by Ryan Pollard
When The Force Awakens came out in 2015, it revitalised the Star Wars franchise for a new millennium, despite some criticism of retreading familiar ground. Love it or not, The Force Awakens was a massive worldwide phenomenon, so expectation was high to see if this would be as good, if not better, especially after J.J. Abrams stepped down from the director’s chair (temporarily) and let Rian Johnson take the helm. Well, The Last Jedi blows all expectations out of the water, and then some, being the riskiest of the Star Wars movies by taking massive chances and risks, which may divide some audiences, but for me anyway, it massively succeeded in its own right. Like The Empire Strikes Back, this is darker than The Force Awakens, yet it’s also its own beast to the point where this feels more like a movie that has transcended beyond what Star Wars was always about by acknowledging the past while also building a new future.
Throughout the movie, there are moments of pure, genuine magic that will truly resonate with audiences, and will most likely leave people openly weeping. Sometimes with fist-pounding joy, sometimes with raw pain or sometimes out of nostalgic delight. But more than anything, this feels like a completely different movie, introducing sequences and scenarios that are fresh, invigorating and very bold new additions to the franchise. What Rian Johnson has crafted is something that is beyond remarkable, and his voice and his vision is present throughout, which is also evident in his other films like Brick, The Brothers Bloom and Looper. With him calling the shots, this movie is a demonstration of masterclass direction and writing, and he even subverts the typical three-act structure, opting to go for almost a five-act structure that actually works really well for this kind of movie. While it is true that the story can be very uneven, this movie makes up for that with its brilliant characterisation, character development, and in deliverance of size and spectacle. The beginning of this movie immediately gets you excited, but THAT last hour is truly a killer.
Daisy Ridley once again kills it as Rey, proving to be the real beacon of light and hope in this new trilogy, while both John Boyega and Oscar Isaac still offer great support and are given more to do this time round. Newcomer Kelly Marie Tran is a excellent addition to this new roster of characters, and her dynamic/chemistry with Boyega is both fun and heartwarming. Adam Driver is terrific as Kylo Ren, taking the character to extreme new depths and terrifying places that makes him more and more the crucial key antagonist of this new series. With sad, tragic passing of Carrie Fisher last year, everyone was curious as to how they would handle her in this movie, and they indeed do Leia justice here, giving her some great scenes to work with, and Fisher really went out on a high note. However, Mark Hamill is the ultimate key that lifts this movie up and keeps its beating heart alive as Luke Skywalker, delivering his best performance as Luke to date. Benicio del Toro on the other hand, I’m not so sure about…
In the end, The Last Jedi subverts all expectations; you may think the movie goes one way, but then it slyly pulls the rug out from under you. Go into this movie completely dark and avoid spoilers like the plague because you are going to be surprised at the level of extraordinary achievement that is accomplished here. If The Force Awakens was a safe springboard, this is the ultimate game-changer that takes the franchise into uncharted territory for both the upcoming Episode 9, as well as Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars trilogy. With all that going for it, now is the time to be a Star Wars fan.
Dir: Rian Johnson
Scr: Rian Johnson
Cast: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Dohmnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro
Prd: Kathleen Kennedy, Ram Bergman
DOP: Steve Yedlin
Music: John Williams
Run time: 152 mins
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out now in cinemas.