Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Space Opera.
Starring: Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Larua Dern, Benicio del Toro.
Year Of Release: 2017
Certificate: 12A (UK)
Runtime: 152 Minutes
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer(s): Rian Johnson
Synopsis: “Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.” IMDB
So, December 14th has finally arrived, and that can only mean one thing: it's time for us geeks to level up to the max as we head in for the latest installment in the phenomenally successful Star Wars Saga. That’s right, the day of The Last Jedi has finally arrived and it’s time to voice my opinion.
It feels like an age since I sat at the cinema watching Luke and Rey play the world’s longest staring competition and I wondered what the hell was going to happen next, or who would win, but time flies and finally here we are again, with more answers and even more questions about the final installment.
Now, let’s be about right, J. J. Abrams did a mighty fine job of bringing the franchise back to the fans with The Force Awakens. Sure, there were some complaints that is was basically a re-hash of A New Hope, and to be fair that’s quite accurate. That being said, you have to look at the bigger picture. After the abysmal offerings that were the prequel series, fans both needed and deserved to have a Star Wars film that actually felt like a Star Wars film, and that’s what we got, whether you liked the method or not. However, no matter what you felt about it, there’s no denying that it reignited the flame that Lucas had most definitely blown out. And that’s where you have to stop and think. J. J. Abrams sucked us right back into the SW world and gave us a new hope (sorry) that the franchise could be revived and saved from those terrible three previous efforts. Well, that’s exactly what happened so it was a good job well done (I say all this with not actually being a big fan of Abram’s style). He lit the fire for someone else to stoke…
Enter Rian Johnson.
Known for such things as Looper (2012), Brick (2005), three episodes of Breaking Bad, and a couple of other things that you’ve probably never heard of, he seemed like an odd choice to carry the torch forward towards the finishing line. Although, with the recent news that he is to begin a brand-new trilogy in the SW universe, it’s safe to say that the powers that be were confident of his work pre-release. So, how did he do? Well, let’s get to it… The fantastic trailer got us all pumped up pretty well, and Luke’s line ‘This isn’t going to go the way you think’, pretty much stood out above everything else, because it was a blatant tease to the audience as we all sat there hypothesizing about absolutely everything. So, did it go the way you might think? Well, you’ll just have to watch it and find out for yourselves.
Let me start with the visuals. The trailer gave us a lot of red and it really seems to separate itself from the other films that have come before in terms of how it looks. I think that was a deliberate move to make us question whether anyone in particular would be swaying to the dark side. Yet another tease. The CG is very good. We all know that it is used heavily these days in big blockbusters and sometimes it can take us away from the story. Let’s face it, the prequels used the ever-loving fuck out of it, and it was nothing short of a hot mess. That’s not the case with TLJ. All the hard would that goes into creating It looks fantastic and draws you in as opposed to pushing you out and pissing you off. Everything that takes place on the new planet Crait looks beautiful, especially. At last there seems to be a fine balance rather than just a complete shambles, and the battle sequences look cool. Snoke looks pretty cool, but not perfect, to be honest. Fortunately, the performance of the always reliable Andy Serkis means that you don’t really care about that too much. There’s not really too much more I can say about the visuals (they were basically great), so, let’s move on to the cast.
TLJ reunites us with characters that we have already met, and introduces us to some new ones. There are several standout performances in this film. Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron is certainly one of my favourites. He plays his character with a wonderful charm that is certainly reminiscent of Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Not in the way that there’s any copying of the character, but in the natural way he brings the character to life and makes him stand out from the crowd. I love every scene that he is in. So, then there is Mark Hamill: Mr. Star Wars himself. Luke Skywalker. Luke, to me, was always such a whiney character. A great one, but whiney. However, he was just a boy, to be fair. In TLJ we see a brand-new Luke. Deep, aged, tormented and with regret, Hamill really does bring maturity and gravitas to a weary character that he absolutely owns. Every scene that he was in was an absolute pleasure to watch and you felt like you were watching a legend of the big screen every time he was on. It was an amazing performance of an iconic character, and definitely the best I have ever seen from him.
So, to the late Carrie Fisher. In TFA we didn’t really get to see enough of her to gauge her character, but she has a much greater part in this one, and to be honest, she is wonderful. Her character has grown so much and you really feel it in this film. The success of a character is in both the writing and the performance. Rian has written great character progression in Leia and Carrie delivered and portrayed this quite brilliantly. There was heart and caring in her performance, like she truly understood Leia better than anyone, which of course, she did. It was a perfect final performance to a spunky and tough character of which she will always be remembered, appreciated and loved.
Not all characters impressed me though. To be honest, I couldn’t take to Rose Tico at all. In fact, I found her quite boring. As Finn’s sidekick, there just wasn’t anything about her that I felt to be interesting. I just thought she was a bit flat and empty. That’s not to say that Kelly Marie Tran didn’t portray her well, there just wasn’t much of any interest to portray. Benicio del Toro was fine as DL (watch it, you’ll find out who he is), but it took a while to warm to is character, and he was pretty generic. Laura Dern as Admiral Amilyn Holdo was another one that was basically okay, but nothing special. So that brings me to Daisy Ridley as Rey. She is a tough one. Just as in TFA, I really go back and forth with her. At some points she is really good and at others she just comes across as quite a bad actress. Her deliverance is sometimes a bit garage, whilst others it’s great. It’s an inconsistency that really annoys me, but overall, I do like her. Adam Driver as Kylo is, just as he was before, simply outstanding. He is a man that knows his character and plays him brilliantly. He really is one of my favourite casting choices for these films.
So, now to the story. For the most part, Rian has brought us a great new chapter. The story flows well (although there are some pacing issues), and it seems to have been written with good understanding and focus of where the story should go before it finally wraps up forever. He certainly seems to have a good grasp on the characters and the relationships between each of them. At some points the writing got a bit sloppy (mostly when it came to dialogue) and I found myself cringing a little, and it got a little too slow somewhere in the middle. As always, there is a touch of comedy in this film. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s pretty much hit-and- miss, but for the most part I really enjoyed the lighter side of it. There were certainly parts where I was disappointed. Moments that the trailer had teased landed a bit flat when they actually played out, and there were some parts where I thought that they could have done it a lot better. Some things seemed to be skipped over a bit too quickly, for my liking. Captain Phasma, for me, was yet again about as useful as a cock on a corpse, but that’s just my opinion. That being said, the relationship between Rey and Luke was awesome to watch and there was a great on-screen chemistry between the two. Plus, there are some truly epic moments that really make the film what it is.
Overall, TLJ is a quality continuation of the story. It’s not without its flaws, but Rian has delivered us a fantastic episode that guarantees that the final installment is going to bring the house crashing down. It’s fun, funny and full of action and leads us wonderfully towards its inevitable end. Rian has managed to keep the magic of SW alive, yet made it his own and take us into new, fresh territory. Putting a stamp on it that singles it out from all the others and bringing us many questions and excitement for what is to come in the final chapter. There are sad moments, funny moments and some spectacular surprises. Despite my few gripes, it is the SW film that the fans deserve, and I simply cannot wait to see what happens next. Some wonderful performances, great direction and, for the most part, expert scripting make this a SW movie that will stand the test of time. This film is the perfect tribute to the late and great Carrie Fisher.