I looked back at how far this film series has come before I saw The Last Jedi and am reminded of something. When A New Hope began production on March 22nd 1976, the cast and crew all though that the film would be a failure and considering all that went wrong during shooting that could even impress the crew of Apocalypse Now, it certainly looked like it was heading this way. But it was the fans of 1977 that decided that the epic space opera was well ahead of its time and it is the people who saw A New Hope when it first released that The Last Jedi will connect to the most.
Director Rian Johnson has taken The Last Jedi to places that can only be described as bold. There are going to be people who are somewhat sceptical to the idea of a new direction, I on the other hand welcome it. I admire the brave nature of Rian Johnson to take this franchise where it has never been before. Not only does the film answer the questions that we needed to know but it also answers questions we never knew needed to be asked. Most fans and critics commented on how Rogue One felt like a different film from the rest of the Star Wars, The Last Jedi is another one of those films that isn’t afraid to take risks or explore story avenues that many would have rubbed of as a route that doesn’t need to be taken.
Now that’s out of the way, I must talk about the cast and let me get straight to the one plaguing everyone’s mind. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker is fantastic, it is a triumphant return to screen for this character. The best part about his performance is that you can really tell that Luke has aged, his ideals and thoughts have changed since Return of the Jedi when he was full of optimism. Rian Johnson does a fantastic job directing and showing us an evolved Luke Skywalker.
The other members of the cast are also exceptional, there’s so many performances that could be talked about here so here’s a short rundown of the stand outs. Adam Driver delivers the goods as the conflicted Kylo Ren who is quickly becoming my favourite Star Wars character. Oscar Issac finally gets more screen time as Poe Dameron and his hotshot personality was shown more. A fantastic debut from Benicio Del Toro, I was really impressed by his character and you can tell that he was having fun with the role of DJ. Without giving too much away his character is almost working man like, he doesn’t fight for a cause, rather he just keeps the cogs turning.
Next on the Star Wars checklist is action. The Last Jedi has some incredible battles in the most remarkable places in the galaxy. Star Wars has shown intensity in many ways from the intensity of knowing what’s at stake and literally feeling the intensity, The Last Jedi to me follows the feeling path. Yes, the audience knows what’s at stake for its characters, but this is blasted away by incredible visuals and a wonderful score from John Williams.
After The Force Awakens took criticism for being too similar to A New Hope, fans were concerned that The Last Jedi would be another Empire Strikes Back. While I can safely say that this isn’t true, I did pick up some inspiration from The Empire Strikes Back but also Return of the Jedi, which does beg the question to whether this inspiration benefits the film or takes you out of the viewing experience because you’re too busy thinking to yourself “Oh, that like Empire Strikes Back”.
The Last Jedi is by no means a perfect Star Wars film, these films are held to a high standard not just by fans, these films stretch our imagination as to what could lie out there, so I disappointed by one location, this setting stood out from the other as being not adequate or not having that wow factor, if you’ve seen the film you can probably guess where I mean. The locations of Star Wars to me are some of the greatest put to film, the best of the best to me are those that feel familiar but have something uniquely different, this is enough to convince you that you’re on a different planet, the location in The Last Jedi as described feels too familiar with not enough wonder, you could picture it somewhere here on Earth.
Another criticism of The Force Awakens is that enough characters weren’t given enough screen time. Unfortunately, The Last Jedi hasn’t leaned from its past mistake. The twist of the knife is that the biggest offender of this in The Force Awakens, the character Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), whose screen time is still a big dissatisfaction for such a visually appealing character. Just maybe they were taking the Boba Fett angle when it came to create Phasma, however we know more about Phasma than Boba Fett. We know what she sounds like, her role in the film etc. It is this mystery that made Boba Fett popular with fans (that and his kick ass costume).
Despite these errors and the odd deus ex machina moment, Rian Johnson has crafted a fantastic film that creates plenty of room for expansion. The Last Jedi is a very brave film that leaves its characters is places we never thought they could go to. It is a surprising but beautiful film; many scenes were created in mind for a visually stunning film and maybe the odd desktop background. The pedigree of Star Wars continues to build, one can only hope that by Episode IX the pedigree of the sequel trilogy will be solidified.
Final Result: 9/10 – Excellent
Have you seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Pitch Perfect 3