Star Wars: The Last Jedi 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Thinking critically while watching film is a passion of mine. I love movies. I love watching and discussing them as entertainment and as an art form. Some are clever. Some are cool. Some are fun. Some are sad. Some have a deep life commentary. And some have political statements. The great ones have a little of everything. Then there is STAR WARS. I say this with the most affection as the STAR WARS films cloud all judgment in the best way possible that reaches its fans on a personal level. Does STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI have some problems? Sure. Did I think it was absolutely incredible? Absolutely.
My completely spoiler free review can be summed up by saying those who are a fan of STAR WARS will not be disappointed and those who have never quite understood the love that fans have for the epic sci-fi space opera, will probably continue to do so. Likewise, the 152 minute runtime will probably seem well worth it for one side and unnecessarily long for the other. Okay, even I can admit it could have used a tighter trim.
THE LAST JEDI picks up almost immediately where THE FORCE AWAKENS ends. As you might remember, Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a remote island and reaches out to hand him his lightsaber in a scene that gave me chills as my body flooded with emotions. Those who, like me, have always considered Jedi Luke one of the greatest characters in the STAR WARS universe will be happy to have more than just the glimpse they received from THE FORCE AWAKENS. Meanwhile, the Resistance, led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) along with her ace pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac) and a recovering Finn (John Boyega), is preparing for battle against the First Order, led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who are under the command of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).
Like all the STAR WARS films, THE LAST JEDI has an incredible production of visual effects, creating a world that is totally immersive and full of fascinating characters. The locations, creatures, and battles are incredibly detailed, energizing the imagination. Also like the other STAR WARS films, THE LAST JEDI struggles in the dialogue department, sometimes expressing feelings or actions verbally that are a bit too on the nose. My wife says she can feel the hate within me as a I cringe at some of the poor dialogue. Nonetheless, writer/director Rian Johnson builds a strong and surprisingly humorous entry that purposefully alters what we might think we already know within the saga, simultaneously respecting the old, yet clearly making way for the new. Sure there are a few questionable decisions and a subplot that is probably unnecessary, outside of introducing an intriguing new character, but THE LAST JEDI dares to build on character and explore deeper themes about who we are and the choices we make.
One of the greatest strengths of the new STAR WARS films is the casting of Daisy Ridley, who continues to be a magnetic force. It’s tough not to immediately be drawn to her presence whenever she is on screen. While I know it was a struggle for some to see Kylo Ren as a whiney youngster rather than the ultra cool new villain, I love the complexity his character is given. I consider the dynamic between Rey and Kylo Ren as one of the best in the series. THE LAST JEDI explores their combative relationship, finding commonality in their conflict.
While the full runtime is a bit too long, the lengthy action-packed final act is well-worth the wait. Of course I think it’s a bit early to make any grand statements, but THE LAST JEDI did not initially tickle my emotional senses the way THE FORCE AWAKENS did, however that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not the better movie. Nostalgia and length of time between a good STAR WARS movie played a big part. With that said, I think THE LAST JEDI may contain one of the most exciting scenes in the entire STAR WARS adventure. I look forward to seeing STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI again and I can’t wait to see where the third installment of this current trilogy in a galaxy far, far away leads.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: By now, it seems like STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI’s 4K disc has been hailed the greatest UHD of all time. Although hyperbole is not foreign to any Star Wars film, my thoughts on the presentation stop just short of calling it the best ever (that’s another, much longer debate). The truth is, the Star Wars films were all made with spectacle and sound in mind, so they’re tailor-made to shine on 4K. The Last Jedi does not disappoint, delivering impressive visuals at almost every turn. The scenes on Ahch-To are bright, vibrant and will put the HDR to use as you get a more nuanced horizon and details in the mountainous setting. But for me, the real joy of the 4K came with the scenes on the passenger carrier, mostly involving Poe. As great as the space battles and lightsabre duels look, it’s the extra detail and color depth in the close-quarters scenes that stood out, giving them an almost 3D-like effect. There is a grain discussion to be had with any movie shot on film and transferred to UHD, so be forewarned that the 4K heightens the grain in the film and if you’re anti-grain, you might have something to complain about. Personally, I want to see a movie the way the director intended and I believe this is what Rian Johnson wanted.
So is this the best UHD on the market? I’m not ready to call it just yet, but to be fair, we’re installing a new home theater system over the next few weeks and STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is the movie I’ll be using to show it off.
Audio: The Dolby Atmos audio track plays beautifully, even if the surround channels aren’t utilized as much as I would have expected. But I loved the end battle scene as the junk-speeders are racing across the salt desert.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Commentary with Rian Johnson: Haters of the film should give this a listen. I know a lot of Star Wars fans have issues with the film, but hearing Johnson talk about it should at least give you an understanding of what he was trying to do. He gives a great commentary and clearly has a passion for the film.
The Director and the Jedi (1:35:25): If commentaries aren’t your thing, but you really want to learn more about the making of the film, then this 90+ minute featurette is made for you. After watching this, I can’t think of anything I’d want to know about the movie that wasn’t covered here.
Balance of the Fore (10:15): I’m not sure why this wasn’t included in the above documentary, but Johnson talks about some of the Force-gifted characters and how they fit into the universe.
Scene Breakdowns (32:59): Three difference scenes get a detailed breakdown.
Deleted Scenes (23:00): 14 scenes are included and they occur through a variety of places in the film. Luke doesn’t show up that often and the caretakers on Ahch-To show up too often.
Andy Serkis Live (5:50): We get to see Serkis in his mo-cap suit.