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Movie Review

Star Wars
Episode VIII
The Last Jedi


Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega
Director: Rian Johnson
Lucasfilm Ltd
Certificate: 12A
Running time: 152 mins
Opens 15 December 2017


There's no way any review of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi isn't going to compare it, favourably or otherwise, with Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back so let's get that out of the way first eh?

Empire is held by many as the *best* of the Star Wars films, indeed some moodhoovers consider it the only other "proper" Star Wars film apart from 1977's original A New Hope, so any favourable comparison is probably going to be considered a win.

Review imageLike Empire... The Last Jedi definitely feels like the middle of something rather than a joyous beginning or a nail biting conclusion. It's a crowded ensemble piece with multiple interweaving storylines. New characters are introduced and old hands are... shall we say... "retired". You are left wanting to see just a bit more of pretty much everything and everyone which is commendable considering the lengthy runtime.

Unlike Empire, The Last Jedi lacks the focus of a really satisfying Big Bad. Kylo Ren is a brilliant character but he's no Vader. Even he knows that which is so incredibly meta I can't quite cope.

Cute-as-a-button Porgs and droids nonwithstanding The Last Jedi feels like a much more Adult film than any other Star Wars movie. Characters are more complicated, their motives not terribly clear. They are conflicted and messy. This is one of The Last Jedi's greatest strengths, it's not a simple story of Black Hats vs White Hats (or blue sabre vs red). Those kind of tales are comfortable, but also predictable. There are several points in The Last Jedi when you really DON'T know what a character will do next and that is very welcome.

Review imageThe overall tone is melancholic and somewhat fatalistic although not without moments of joy and glee. (thinking here of the cameo from a particular Force Ghost). Some of the comedy is a beat too broad and misses the mark but at other times is just sublime. Prepare to be saturated with memes of Luke's brush-off.

The only sour note for me was, disappointingly, Poe Dameron. In The Force Awakens Dameron was a cocky yet charming scoundrel in the Solo mould. In The Last Jedi he is... well, a bit of a dick. Not only does he keep fucking up big time - most notably being directly responsible for almost the entire rebellion being slaughtered over the course of the film - he never seems troubled by this, let alone says "sorry". And nobody else seems to care much either. It's a suspension of disbelief too far.

Rey, Kylo and Finn continue to be a delight to watch and are all given decent character arcs. Finn remains the real human heart of the gang and this installment is off on an adventure paired with Kelly Marie Tran's engaging Rose Tico.

Review imageAll the cameos are splendid. General Hux might be channeling Arnold Rimmer a touch too much at times but I can forgive him. Watching Carrie Fisher's steely General Leia is an emotional rollercoaster as is to be expected and Mark Hamill effectively channels grumpy Obi Wan, wise Qui Gonn and his own badass Return of the Jedi self as a distilation of pure Jedi.

I do so miss the Jedi, I love all things Star Wars and the newer films are no exception but I find myself pining for some lightsabre action. When Rey and Kylo get down to it in The Last Jedi, and take out a squadron of Praetorian Guards, it's most definitely fun but also a little unsatisfying because the opponents are so faceless. It may not be The Done Thing to love the prequels but for a Jedi-junkie they deliver, I'm still waiting for this trilogy to offer me a scene with the spectacle or emotional heft of 'Duel of the Fates'.

With the prequels Lucas and team deliberately tried to create an "all new" experience which was not warmly received by all fans. This new series was made to soften the inevitable transition from "classic" Star Wars to the unknown future, consciously blending the old and new - both actual characters and the production design which goes a long way to explaining their wide appeal.

Review imageThe Last Jedi looks utterly delicious from start to finish. The classic black/red/white palette being used to full effect throughout. The First Order ships are so shiny it almost hurts, Luke's solitary island actually feels moist. It's a triumph.

So despite looking like pure distilled Star Wars, during The Last Jedi there is much talk of "the end of things", "moving on", "change" etc and I for one cannot wait to see what that is.


Lizzie Biscuits

Screen shot

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