2017 in Cinema:
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, 2017
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro
The Last Jedi is better than The Force Awakens. It’s quite strange how in each trilogy the second instalment is better than the first (albeit this is my opinion, I’ve seen others say differently). I do not hide away from the fact I’m not a major Star Wars fan; prior to starting the films in the build-up to The Last Jedi I had only seen one as a child and wasn’t a fan (I can’t remember which one it was but after seeing them all I can guarantee it was a prequel film), but I loved this film. Not quite as much as The Empire Strikes Back, but a very, very close second. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour film that flies by with constant action, perfectly written and acted character, a villain with a moral dilemma and the usual beautiful score and visual effects that have become accustomed to the Star Wars films (but it does still have the wipes). The Last Jedi sees Rey (Daisy Ridley, Murder on the Orient Express) try to persuade Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill, Return of the Jedi) to train her in the power of the force and to help stop the oncoming attack by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, Logan Lucky), who is chasing down the last of the resistance, led by the late Carrie Fisher (The Force Awakens) and joined by the returning team members (Fin (John Boyega, Detroit) and Poe (Oscar Isaac, Suburbicon)) as well as new characters such as Rose (Kelly Marie Tran).
I fell in love almost immediately with Daisy Ridley in The Force Awakens, as her character was very well written and very well acted. Her performance and character in The Last Jedi were much, much better. It establishes throughout that Rey is being pulled towards the dark side, much like Kylo Ren is being pulled towards the light, and this brings the characters together throughout the film. This uncertainty about their allegiances allow the characters so much more personality, and once they choose their side they are so much more than what they were at the start, and that’s good writing and storytelling. But it’s not just Kylo Ren and Rey, everyone is well written and brilliantly acted throughout. Poe is so much fun, but learns valuable lessons throughout the film, Fin is such a sweetheart, waking up after his near-death experience simply caring about Rey, Luke is the best Mark Hamill has ever played him and Rose is a nice new addition, although her relationship with Fin has both positives and negatives about it, although she does one action which I thought was brilliant.
Much like The Empire Strikes Back this film is largely action-filled from start to finish, with only a few moments slowing the pace down a bit. The journeys, while separately, join together towards the end and set up a grand finish to the film. And by the end of the film the villain, the one true established villain, feels like a genuine threat, but prone to mistakes. And that makes for a villain both terrifying yet beatable. I also loved how the film slowly moved on from the original cast to make way for the new team. My biggest gripe about The Force Awakens was that there was too much focus on the original team (having Han Solo (Harrison Ford, Blade Runner) as a main hero, Leia (Carrie Fisher) a leader of the rebellion and the villain their son), The Last Jedi perfectly acknowledges in the battles, but moving forward leads the third instalment to have a clear focus on the new cast.
There aren’t too many negatives in this film, which is unusual for a Star Wars film, with the only negative (aside from the use of wipes) being the slowing down of the pace to focus on the relationship and dynamic between two characters. They go on their own mission but it feels different to the rest of the film. And the First Order is full of terrible fighters. How have the villains of these films continued to use variations of these soldiers throughout eight films and three separate battles against a Sith Lord yet they cannot effectively shoot the sea from a boat. It does take away from the realism generated in the film when there are shots being fired and missing despite being shot from not too far away at people who aren’t even a Jedi. But, as I’m sure you’re aware, those faults are not exactly native to The Last Jedi, so there really isn’t all too much to criticise. A very well made Star Wars film, and an entertaining ride throughout. From someone who isn’t a Star Wars fan.
Plot: * * * * *
Acting: * * * *
Writing: * * * * *
Presentation: * * * *
Overall Rating: * * * * ½
Other films in the Star Wars series: