Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Starring Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, John Boyega
Written and Directed by Rian Johnson
Produced by Lucasfilm, distributed by Disney
IMDB Rating: 7.9/10 | Tomatometer: 93%
(As of 18/12/2017, 3 days after release)
The second film in this new, Abraham-led and Disney-backed Star Wars trilogy looks to build upon the relatively good reception given to its previous. With Disney behind it, this was always going to be an enjoyable experience, but can this latest film stand on its own feet, a criticism labelled at the two previous Star Wars movies?
Following on from the events in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the story follows a Resistance on the run from the dominant First Order. Poe Dameron (Isaac) manages to lead a desperate evacuation for the Resistance, but they are still unable to shake the First Order’s tracking device, leaving what is left of them struggling to escape the First Order’s clutches. With no base planet and a dwindling fuel supply, the Resistance are seemingly on a course towards certain annihilation, until defected First Order stormtrooper Finn (Boyega) and mechanic Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), reeling over her sister’s death in the evacuation, hatch a plan to disable the Order’s tracker. Meanwhile, Rey (Ridley) tries to convince an ageing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to teach her how to use the force for the sake of the Resistance and beliefs that he has turned his back upon, while also developing a telepathic relationship through the force with her enemy, the First Order’s Kylo Ren (Driver).
As mentioned before, with Disney the driving force behind these movies, this was always going to be a well-created movie. For the most part I enjoyed the pace of this movie. The Last Jedi starts really well – the dogfights in space are exceptionally well shot, and are plentiful early on in the movie.
My main thought going into this movie, though, was the story. I was fortunate enough to have avoided all the trailers and talk about this movie, and went into it having absolutely no idea what was going to happen. In between all the early skirmishes, the story was set up really nicely. My one problem with the first movie was that the story felt a little simple, the movie itself, inevitably, something of an introduction to the new world of Star Wars. Rogue One, from memory, also felt like its story was a bit simple and linear. The Last Jedi, however, felt like a real cinematic experience, with a balanced story that is simple at its core, but blooms and develops into multiple climaxes. Rian Johnson has created a fantastic range of emotions in The Last Jedi, with moments of comedy, action, drama and philosophy in good measure. The only complaint I had really was that I felt like the movie ran for 15-30 minutes too long – it was actually good enough to merit ending on something of a cliffhanger!
The acting, for the most part, was pretty good. One of Star Wars’ appeals is that the actors are relatively small-time for the film they are in, however that does create some moments where the sense of realism is lost. Saying that, I thought Oscar Isaac showed once more why he has to be one of the best actors around right now with an engaging, entertaining performance. Driver as Ren and John Boyega were also very good, as was Kelly Marie Tran, who took on a starring role beside him in this movie. Daisy Ridley was solid – there’s at times an uncomfortable stiffness to her behaviours, but she has certainly embodied the star character of the series.
The directing was pretty solid, but no more. As mentioned before, the dogfights in space were fantastic to watch, however the hand-to-hand combat, minus a five second shot of Rey and Ren back-to-back, was very laboured and at times quite awkward. Past that, it’s hard to see what scenes were down to Johnson’s great directing, and what were down to the incredible special effects behind this film. The most memorable scenes in this movie – I’m thinking Rey in the cave and the fighters skirting over the red salts – are memorable as much because of the special effects team as they are because of Johnson.
As much as it pains me to see it, Disney are creating some incredible movies, and this Star Wars film is another must see cinema experience. A fantastic range of emotions and a developing, purposeful storyline make this an engrossing watch, while the special effects will always amaze, especially on a cinema screen. It was good fun to watch these talented people do their thing on the big screen. While I don’t know enough of the whole franchise to comment that grandly, I have seen all of the latest Star Wars movies so far, and The Last Jedi continues their gradual upward trajectory – this is the best new Star Wars film yet.