“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”: Non-Spoiler Movie Review
The Secret Life of Porgs
Star Wars: The Last Jedi a.k.a Episode VIII is an action-adventure space opera written and directed by Rian Johnson. The second film in the new Star Wars trilogy, The Last Jedi features returning stars Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Adam Driver and the late Carrie Fisher; as well as new additions Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro. The Last Jedi picks up where 2015s The Force Awakens left off, as Rey (Ridley) attempts to convince Luke Skywalker (Hamill) to come out of exile and join the few remaining members of the Resistance in the fight against the evil First Order. Out of respect for all Star Wars fans, no further plot points will be revealed in this review, in order to maintain the giddy excitement many fans will no doubt have walking into this film, not knowing what to expect.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney’s Lucasfilm set a new standard for the holiday season. Grossing over 240-million dollars in its U.S. opening weekend alone, it reinvigorated the Star Wars franchise and set the foundations for a new story centred on fresh faces. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver became global superstars overnight, and here they return with a new director, Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick, Breaking Bad) at the helm. Early signs of the film’s quality seem very positive, with no highly-publicised production issues as well as the greenlighting of an ALL-NEW Star Wars trilogy launched by Rian Johnson (Could The Last Jedi really be that good?). The only real damper on the day is, of course, the sad passing of Carrie Fisher. But with the best talents in the industry as well as the backing of the world’s most powerful filmmaking company, Johnson and co. should have been working hard to create a picture worthy of the late Princess’ memory.
Expectations met. Thought not without its flaws, The Last Jedi is another strong entry in the Star Wars saga, boasting action-packed sequences, a well-written story and visuals that feature some of the best shots seen this year. Where Daisy Ridley stole the show in The Force Awakens, Adam Driver is the star of this episode, as we delve deeper into his complex psyche. Certain storylines are better than others, and most of the film’s antagonists are either underdeveloped, underwhelming, or both. But the second half of the film is pure cinematic brilliance, and many fans will leave the theatre satisfied. It’s difficult not to see this movie delivering another huge box office weekend. It is the will of the Force.
Last Rey of Hope
‘Bold’ is the word many critics used to describe The Last Jedi. And for good reason. Expect the unexpected, because there’re a few choices Rian Johnson makes in the screenplay that may immediately turn members of the audience off. But there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity, and in this case it is very much the former. Known for his unique brand of storytelling, Johnson does not hold back in blurring the line between the light and dark sides of the Force. Like the Emperor luring young Anakin to the dark side, Johnson teases the viewer with so many possibilities, putting everyone’s lives on the line and egging on our desire to find out what happens next. The visuals in this film are jaw-dropping, especially on the planet with red salt that is so heavily featured in the marketing. What isn’t marketed, however, is the unexpected amount of humour injected into this otherwise dark movie, which almost always hits and offers moments of great levity where appropriate.
Pretty much the entire cast does a fair job with their part, with Daisy Ridley again showing extraordinary sincerity and presence. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reprise their career-defining roles to add that pinch of nostalgia, while our favourite wookie and droids also show up (BB8 being the most central to the story). Of the new additions to the cast, Kelly Marie Tran's Rose is a standout, as she shows the most range with limited screentime. But The Last Jedi ends with Kylo Ren being the most intriguing character of them all. Adam Driver really utilises his acting chops to play the raging, hateful, but powerful villain. One we can sympathise with, and even root for, even if we don't understand how deep in the dark side Ren has buried himself. Special mention here also goes to the impossibly cute Porgs, who will most probably bring lots of profits to Disney from toy sales.
The Dark Knight Rises
Captain Phasma (played by Gwendoline Christie) is once again wasted in a Star Wars movie. At this rate, we should be wondering if Lucasfilm is deliberately wasting the talents of such a good actress and the potential of such a cool-looking character. In addition, the Emperor-like Supreme Leader Snoke (played by mo-cap hero Andy Serkis) honestly felt as underdeveloped as Phasma was wasted, though I appreciated the role he played in the film. Alas, fans salivating at the prospect of seeing Snoke whip out his lightsaber and duelling Luke Skywalker will be severely disappointed to know that this is not that kind of movie. Despite all the exciting adventures involved in the Star Wars movies, the storyline involving Finn (Boyega) and Rose was unfortunately a bit out of place in tone, compared to the other storylines running in parallel. I constantly wanted to switch back to scenes involving either Rey and Luke, or Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) and Leia. This was a shame, considering the characters themselves are so unique and likeable.
Repeat viewings are required to determine the extent to which The Last Jedi surpasses its predecessors, but there is no doubt that Rian Johnson has done a spectacular job in steering the franchise into a fresh new direction, despite the film having several similarities to Episode V! The Last Jedi may not be The Empire Strikes Back of this latest trilogy, but when the credits roll, there’ll be this strong feeling that this is only the end of the beginning, and that there is a wealth of potential storylines this franchise can thread into. It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan, as The Last Jedi is an easily-lovable film despite its flaws and different stylistic choices. If one thing’s for sure, it’s that fans will be rubbing their palms in anticipation for the newly-announced Rian Johnson Star Wars trilogy. It’s a bit disappointing that Johnson won’t be directing Episode IX, but J. J. Abrams should do just fine. It may be ‘time for the Jedi to end’, as Luke Skywalker says, but there is no sign of the Star Wars hype train doing the same.
Overall Score: 8.5/10