(This piece assumes you have seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Come on, it’s been a week. But fear not, no particularly major spoilers here.)
So I finally got a chance to sit down to the biggest sci-fi phenomenon (in terms of pure market value, given Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox Media’s entertainment properties) to a largely empty cinema.
Star Wars Episode VIII picks up some time after Episode VIII ended, with the Resistance on the run after a fierce, brutal counterattack by the First Order, which leaves the good guys on really dire straits, first losing their main base, then most of their fleet. Anyone familiar with real time strategy games would have just hit the concede button at this point on and move on to the next game.
First off, comparing Episode VIII to Empire Strikes Back, is way off. Like as much of a miss like the first proton torpedo shot. Whilst there are superficial trope similarities (and definitely a few scenes that evoke it) between both movies, VIII is less about the conflict but more about the whole Jedi/Sith thing and whether it needs to stick around. If I’m using any comparsion, it’s actually a whole lot closer to a classic video game, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (set thousands years before the events of the Battle of Yavin IV, which is used as an unofficial calendar), which is more talking about the concept of the Force as a whole, of Force Bonds between one Jedi to another (and sometimes Force Bonds doesn’t care which side of it either represents), and the whole ‘letting go’ theme that thankfully holds the film together. Speaking of action, the film gets better all the way to the end, combined with the incredibly loud (I.e awesome) battle sounds.
In regards to racial and gender representation behind the film- as far as I’m concerned, the Resistance and the First Order have completely subscribed to being Equal Opportunity Employers, although the First Order is still off limits for the universe’s non-human species. Chinese and Indian (casted) members of the First Order have had the honour of firing many a mega death laser, causing the untimely demise of billions of Rebel scum. At the very least Rose Tico, played by Kelly Marie Tran gets a lot of screen time and gets her own chance at personal heroics (but not sure if it's worth celebrating to the high heavens over it). Vice Admiral Holdo on the other hand, counts as a pretty poor admiral by any stretch of the imagination.
Star Wars Episode VIII is a good movie, even though the sheer power of the brand would make back its buck even if it was as bad as the prequels. (and that’s not much of a high ground, so to speak.)