Out this week is the highly anticipated sequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Does it live up to the hype?
Set immediately after the events of The Force Awakens Star Wars: The Last Jedi delves right into the action as the Rebels led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher) are being hunted by The First Order which is being spearheaded by the heinous Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his young apprentice Kylo Ren (Driver). On the other side of the Galaxy, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is trying to coax Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) back into the fight and he’s having none of it. This all sets the stage for a battle that will shake the galaxy to its core. More importantly this film may shake its fans to their core as well.
I can only speak for myself but Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a surprisingly emotional experience and this was down to the unusual structure of the story and the unbelievable cinematic beauty of the film. Cinematographer Steve Yedlin has painted this galaxy far, far away with breathtaking brush strokes and I was taken aback by the ravishing imagery on screen. The sun-drenched planets, the crimson battlefields, and the metallic gloss of the First Order scorched away by the fire of the Resistance. It makes for an unforgettable visual experience that I couldn’t take my eyes off of and I know will stay with me. Another aspect that will stay with me is the cast of characters, Rey (Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Kylo Ren (Driver) have made a welcome return and through the course of The Last Jedi all grow as characters. Rey has to continue her struggle in finding her place in the galaxy and the old saying “Never meet your heroes” ringing through her head after meeting Luke her struggle is stronger than it’s ever been. Poe is slowly becoming more than just a hotshot pilot for the Resistance but he still makes severe mistakes and it is this humanity that makes him far more compelling than he was in The Force Awakens.
I couldn’t write this review without discussing the “old guard”, Luke (Hamill) and Leia (Fisher) are absolutely fantastic, Leia surprises in this latest story showing a side to her all fans of Star Wars will be overjoyed to see. Luke is phenomenal a true force of nature and his relationship with his nephew and his sister is remarkably relatable in this story filled with laser swords and space-faring rebels.
If there were some issues with the characters they would rest with Finn’s storyline he is given a quest to help the Resistance survive against the overwhelming power of the First Order and it comes across as an extended version of the infamous rathtar scene from The Force Awakens except this time around we have Benicio Del Toro given nothing truly memorable to do which is deeply disappointing especially if you know some of the rumours about who his character could possibly be. This storyline would be a complete trainwreck except for the latest introduction to the cast Kelly Marie Tran who plays Rose. She is the audience, she is the beating heart of the fandom injected into Star Wars: The Last Jedi and her relationship with Finn is wonderful.
The biggest flaw with Star Wars: The Last Jedi is possibly the story, it’s a slow burn and after the rough and tumble of The Force Awakens this slower quieter turn may not be to the taste of everyone in the audience. The most disappointing element though is where the story wants to go with its surviving characters once the film comes to its rather anti-climatic end. On the technical side of things there are also transitions between our various characters and where they are located and these transitions can be so abrupt at times it can take you out of the moment.
In the end Rian Johnson has crafted a Star Wars like no other and as a legendary Jedi Master once said, “This is not going to go the way you think”.