Star Wars - The Last Jedi

posted 23 Apr 2018, 15:14 by Paul Woodward

Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy

Stars: Daisy Ridley / John Boyega / Mark Hamill / Carrie Fisher / Adam Driver / Oscar Isaac

Director: Rian Johnson

Certificate: 12A

Run Time: 2hrs 32min

Year: 2017

Picking up immediately after the events of The Force Awakens we see Rey meeting Luke Skywalker on a remote island planet who she is desperate to enlist the aid of in the war against the First order. Kylo Ren and The First Order have decimated the Rebels and are keen to finish off the small band of resistance as they chase them through space lead by Leia Organa.

It’s as fast paced as you would expect from a Star Wars films with lots of action set pieces and excitement. Regardless of all the bad reviews I’d heard before seeing the film I really enjoyed ‘Last Jedi’ it kept my attention and was entertaining throughout. The special effects are stunning and although Johnson has bore the brunt of a lot of negativity the film has received, I actually like the touches he brings to film visually and there are a few scenes which due to the directing were quite beautiful and emotionally impactful. I wouldn’t let the negative reviews put you off seeing ‘Last Jedi’ alongside The Force Awakens and Rogue One (which is by far the best film of the three!) they are entertaining popcorn films which do feel part of the ‘Star Wars’ universe and are vastly superior to the prequel trilogy.

I think one thing that lets these new films down is how the characters come across, we all loved the memorable characters from the original trilogy but these new films struggle to emulate that. A lot of this feels down to the fact the script doesn’t help – for example the fearless Poe Dameron is meant to be the courageous hero who should wow the audience with his bravery and dedication to the cause, but on numerous occasions he makes decisions that make you think he’s a reckless dick. He rebels against the new leader of the Rebels Holdo following Leia going into a coma, but you never really back him as a viewer he just seems pissed off he wasn’t elected to be the next commander. So, when you find out his rebellion goes against Holdo’s plan for survival, something that is kept secret and makes her seem cowardly, only paints him even more villainous. Dameron is not the only character that makes poor choices which paints their persona’s in a very grey area therefore as a viewer you become less invested in their fates.

It’s great to see Hamill back as Skywalker, he’s older more disillusioned and grumpy but still carries that heroic torch he embodied in the original trilogy. It’s hard not to equate what goes on in Rey and Luke’s story arc as similar to Luke and Yoda and to a degree Obi Wan. Thankfully it is different but it’s hard not to draw similarities. There was a lot of bad feedback regarding how the film ends for Luke, but I liked it and thoughtful it’s was powerful and well directed.

Leia spends most the film in a coma but has far more to do in this film than she did in The Force Awakens nonetheless. I had thought following Carrie Fishers death that she would have a defined ending in ‘Last Jedi’ – she doesn’t – so it will be interesting to see how the disappearance of Leia is dealt with in the final film in this trilogy as it will obviously have to be done offscreen and done in a way that is respectful to Fisher but also to Leia’s legacy within the Star Wars universe.

There’s lots of new creatures featured throughout the film that add to the alien aspect of Star Wars which bends more towards Fantasy than science fiction. So, keep your eye out for the new creations, none of whom are overbearing like the Ewoks (whom I loved as a kid) or annoying as Jar Jar Binks. Who all add to creating a very fantastical universe.

Director Johnson who also wrote the screenplay does a good job of keeping it family friendly whilst dealing with some quite dark storylines. Something that he implemented into the script was references to well known criticisms the first film received which you don’t tend to see in film franchises and it’s clear to viewers it’s been dealt with not to appease fans but in acknowledgement. Kylo Ren is berated by Snoke as a second-rate Vader with a stupid helmet, which he ditches after having a hissy fit in a lift, all criticisms of the Ren character in the first film. Either smart script writing or flipping a bird at the toxic fans of the saga – only the man himself knows.

He even deals with the sad and unnecessary flak Fisher got based purely on her looks – how fans expected her to look like she did in 1977 I don’t know, to make it worse neither Hamill or Ford were criticised for getting older! When Luke meets Leia towards the end whom he hasn’t seen for a long time he alludes to in a very emotional meeting how she has grown old, before he says anything in what is a very emotional and touching scene, she says ‘I know, I’ve changed my hair’ which I really thought was nice script writing and also addressed that criticism following the first film.

One of the big mysteries brought up in the first film was who are Rey’s parents and this not only brought up debate but also a lot of frustrated negativity. So, Johnson dealt with this in a short sharp way, which dismissed her parentage and no big reveal or twist involving her parents will be used. It’s not really needed to be honest.

A very entertaining film with lots going on to keep you on the edge of your seats. I think it sits well in the star wars saga and has lots of touches that reflect on the previous films, keep an eye for Yoda back in puppet form doing a cameo in a really cool scene with Luke, which really evokes memories of Empire Strikes Back!

9/10

Review by Woody

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