Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Out Now On-Demand
New generation stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac return alongside Star Wars legends Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in this sequel to The Force Awakens. Rian Johnson (Looper) writes and directs this episode, allowing us see why Disney have given him an entire new trilogy of Star Wars films, unrelated to these, to craft next.
Rey (Ridley) took her first steps into a larger world in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will continue her epic journey with Finn (Boyega), Poe (Isaac), and Luke Skywalker (Hamill) in the next chapter of the continuing Star Wars saga.
Adventure, Science Fiction, Blockbuster
Rating: M Violence
Playing out with an alarming degree of familiarity in its tone, setting and storyline, 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens ultimately served franchise course correction over bold storytelling – it existed to reassure the wider audience that Star Wars was in safe hands, and that the (perceived) missteps of the much-maligned prequels would no longer plague fans.
With that aim apparently satisfied, The Last Jedi presented an opportunity to push the franchise forward – it’s an opportunity writer/director Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom, Looper) has embraced with gusto.
This film may not represent a significant upending of what we’ve come to expect from a Star Wars movie, but it nevertheless presents enough new ideas to constitute the most unpredictable and exciting entry in the series since 1980’s widely revered The Empire Strikes Back.
Like that film, The Last Jedi upends many of the seemingly permanent notions put forward by its predecessor. It also introduces plot dynamics not seen before in the series – most impressively a protracted military stalemate that forces difficult decisions for the main characters.
Only glimpsed in the finalé of the last film, Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker is gifted a narrative that honours the mythic status of the character while allowing for Hamill’s underappreciated dramatic and comedic skills to shine. The late Carrie Fisher’s General Leia Organa has a surfeit of great moments as well, all of which are lent extra poignancy by the actor’s untimely passing.
The characters unique to this new trilogy – most notably Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley’s Rey – progress forward in their arcs with a degree of surprise the film’s predecessor may not have led the audience to expect.
The opening space battle scene is an all-time franchise highlight, and the film subsequently offers up several dynamic set-pieces that combine dexterous contemporary filmmaking with a clear affection for the possibilities that George Lucas’ creation always promised.
The Force is most definitely with Rian Johnson, and The Last Jedi bodes extremely well for the recently-announced trilogy of new Star Wars films that he will write and direct.
Also, the origin of Blue Milk is revealed in a scene that feels like something out of early Peter Jackson. The film is peppered with these kinds of joyful moments. Star Wars fans old and new are guaranteed to have an absolute blast.
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It's action-packed and visually stunning, taking a unique direction in the saga - however lacking the character qualities expected from a film of such standard.
Better than The Force Awakens, but still with some pretty major flaws (both in the plot and character progression)
Firstly, The Light Side - I was thoroughly engrossed during the two and a half hour run time, and with more twists and turns than, well, any other Star Wars film to date. It delivers a much more engaging and original storyline than Episode 7 (aka 'Star Wars XL - A New Hope Supersized') and is all the better for it. OK, it did go on a bit, but that I don't mind as long as it gets somewhere in the end, which it does. In fact, I was very pleased to be sat watching the credits thinking, "hmmm... I'm not really sure what they are going to do in Episode 9, they tied that all up quite nicely".
The Dark Side - after the credits roll and you’re on your way home you'll suddenly be hit by all the plot holes and quite simply dumb stuff that passed you by in all the action. SPOILER ALERT the ridiculousness of the whole low-speed car chase in space scene near the end (I can only presume the director is a big fan of the movie Speed?) I mean, as if the First Order leaders would order their Tie fighters to fall back "because they are out of range of cover from our canons". Yeah, right!? Since when would they care about a few Tie Fighters? Especially after couple of them just successfully blew up the bridge and took out pretty much the entire Resistance command! But no, pull them back, we don't want to risk losing them BECAUSE WE'VE ONLY GOT AN ENTIRE FLEET'S WORTH TO SPARE! Next up - there is no friction in space! So why do the Resistance ships suddenly stop dead when their fuel runs out? There’s laws of physics you can play with in Sci-Fi but I’m sorry, that ‘aint one of them. Unless space has somehow been filled with metaclorian particles (ugh) obviously they'd just keep going until they hit the first planet/star/black hole that got in their way. That's kinda how space works. Likewise if the Resistance Cruiser is 'faster' that can only mean has better acceleration, in which case it would be increasingly putting distance between itself and the pursuing ships behind. Plus, of course, the old chestnut - they have somehow figured out how to build hyperspace technology, but not an autopilot??
Yes, there'll be Star Wars nerds out there who can probably come up with excuses for the latter points, but I simply don't care that much and on the face of it that's three really dumb mistakes in a single scene alone. Ho hum.
My final gripe being the direction they went with Luke, which Mark Hamill publically berated, and rightly so. As he also rightly later commented, yes, it works within the context of the film, but I thought Luke's character broke the pre-becoming a Jedi teenage sulky "I can't do this/it's not fair/I can't change anything" mould some time ago, but it seems like he forgot all those lessons he learnt from Yoda (which, funnily enough, he learns all over again here) and has become the archetypal grumpy old man. Even I expected more of him than that, and I’m no fan of the guy.
Having said all that, it was thoroughly entertaining while it lasted (which was a good while, so decent bang for your buck). Shame though, could have been a five star movie if they'd thought things through a bit better.
Too long too repetitive
Must admit I am not a dedicated Star Wars fan so each movie has to give me something to enjoy. I have always found the plots a bit juvenile and the attraction has always been the universe it creates. This film was big on plot but low on what attracts me. I found myself rooting for the bad guys. Finish the resistance off so we can go home! Too long, too self indulgent. Would like to have loved it more, just didn't.
Despite the lengthy runtime, Episode VIII is an entertaining instalment in the Star Wars saga and is worthy of the acclaim it has been receiving of late. There are no rejigs or recycling of material to progress the story and that allows character arcs to flourish. Above all, it is undeniably stylish and fun.
A surprisingly unique experience that is ambitious for a Star Wars movie.
Nothing makes me happier than a movie in a successful franchise that tries something new, and The Last Jedi is a pure example of this. Even if some of it's effort is at the expense of a few weak characters and lackluster scenes, it's still worth the re-watch purely because of the impact that it had on me as the viewer. Not quite as good as episode 7, but far from a disappointment.
NO SPOILERS but - this IS the sequel we've been waiting for!
NO SPOILERS Film Review: STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
This is the sequel we’ve been waiting for…
I’ve been a huge Star Wars fan ever since, a long, long time ago in a cinema far away, I saw the first movie. But then, being a fan, only means I’m easier to disappoint with each new iteration of my favourite space soap.
Yet (despite another destroy-the-Death-Star third-act hokum), The Force Awakens restored my belief in the franchise and now The Last Jedi has cemented my renewed love affair with the sci-fi saga that still has potential to be running light years from now.
Kicking off right where J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens ended, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi plunges us right back in, re-introducing Luke Skywalker, this time in the Obi Wan role as Rey’s reluctant Jedi mentor.
When Johnson was announced as director, I immediately knew we’d be in safe hands, judging by the excellence of his Brick script, and the superb lived-in aesthetic of his sci-fi Looper, Johnson was ideally placed to continue the new trilogy.
Together with his go-to cinematographer, Steve Yedlin, Johnson creates a vivid universe with a colour palette emphasising blacks, whites and reds, as coding for the light, dark and passion / danger sides of the Force.
The plot twists and turns, character development, effects, adventure and aesthetic are superbly realised in a film that’s by turns rewarding, fun, dizzying, spectacular and outright darn funny.
If there’s a major criticism, it’s the humour overload, (occasionally bordering on sly, fourth-wall breaking nods and winks), but hey it’s a family film, and it’s good to see it not be too po-(Dameron)-faced.
There’s still politics, philosophy and portentous revelations, but that doesn’t stop Johnson delivering on the huge spectacle, battle action and fun.
The longest Star Wars yet (at 150-minutes), it only sags slightly in the second act, and with so many characters, not all are as fleshed out or important to the story as you may wish. DJ, Benicio Del Toro’s character, is given little of import, but at least Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) get loads more to do, even if Hux is now more comic relief than cosmic rat.
John Boyega is great as Finn, but the focus here is on Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Adam Driver’s bitter Kylo Ren. Reaching Hamlet proportions of introspection, Ren is here established as one of the saga’s best villains.
Heck, he may not be as ugly as CGI-Snoke (a motion-capture Andy Serkis), but he’s turning into a great, conflicted heir to Darth Vader’s bad guy throne.
Laura Dern provides a new strong (if underwritten) female character as Vice Admiral Holdo, and Kelly Marie Tran is a welcome new addition as Resistance soldier, Rose Tico.
Best of all is welcoming back Mark Hamill, who plays Luke as an older, wiser, introspective Luke, and the opportunity for a fitting farewell to the late Carrie Fisher (as General Leia), to whom the film is dedicated.
The Last Jedi sets out to answer many of the questions posed in The Force Awakens, whilst continuing the saga in a way that should delight old and new fans, and provide some genuinely surprising new takes on old lore.
As a sci-fi blockbuster action movie, it’s a blast. As a Star Wars sequel, it’s a hugely delightful character-focused epic that’s wondrous to behold on the big screen in 3D with pulsating surround sound.
Yup - the Force is strong with this one.