Star Wars – The Last Jedi – Spoiler-Free Review

The Force has awoken and brought to life a new and unpredictable Star Wars movie, challenging much of what fans were expecting in the sequel to The Force Awakens. Director Rian Johnson brought to life a beautiful looking film that focuses on the passing of the baton from the old generation of heroes to our new protagonist in a way that will see our new characters go deeper and develop in ways no one saw coming. The Last Jedi has some incredible highs, some epic battles on all scales, some beautiful story arcs and some minor disappointments, but this is a worthy second act in a three act saga.

The Last Jedi5

The story picks up with Rey continuing her journey approaching Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, handing him his old lightsabre. This Luke is different to the one people remember from 30 years ago, doing something with the lightsabre that no one would have expected. Played brilliantly and intelligently by Mark Hamill, Luke is reluctant to become the teacher that Rey seeks, or the hero the galaxy expects of him based on the failures of his past. Rey, unwilling to give up on the Jedi Master, continues to try and learn how she fits into everything and how to better understand the Force. To quote Snoke “Darkness rises, and the Light to meet it.” As Rey becomes stronger with the force as does her dark side opponent, Kylo Ren.

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Adam Driver gives perhaps one of the best performances in The Last Jedi, creating a depth to the character of Kylo Ren, to which the surface was scratched in The Force Awakens. Driver brings to Ren a conflict that fans were hoping to see in the prequels, as a young man gives himself to the dark side, even as the light is pulling at him. He still plays the young man, lacking control over his emotions and living in the shadow of what his Grand Father achieved, a legacy that weighs heavily on him. His relationship with his new master Snoke, his old master Luke and his light side counter part in Rey, play vital roles in his development as a main character in this Saga.

The Last Jedi Kylo Ren

In between the tale of the light and dark side of the Force, there is a military story unlike any that has come before in a Star Wars movie. It is here we see a new military strategy used by The Resistance to out manoeuvre the First Order ships pursuing them, using an imaginative and slightly frustrating technique rather than engage in a losing battle. At the centre of this plot are two stories, one of Finn and Rose, the other of Poe, Leia and newcomer, Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern). On first viewing neither of these story lines sat right with me, it wasn’t until revisiting the movie that I saw what Johnson was aiming for. These stories play more towards the development of the characters of Finn and in particular Poe, setting them on a path to greatness for Episode IX. The arc of Poe felt unnecessary at first, the story would have been so simple to fix, but when a character goes through as much growth as he does, you can see why the story had to play out the way it did.

The Last Jedi Poe

Whilst not all the new characters were successful additions to the franchise, newcomer Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico definitely was. She represents the average person, not born into a special family or trained as Special Forces; she just wants to do her part for The Resistance. Her storyline with Finn is a rather interesting one, unfortunately though, their story on Canto Bight really does feel like it belongs in another movie.

Despite my love for this new installment in the Star Wars Universe, it is not without its flaws. Some of the characters arcs feel dragged out, whilst others are rushed or wasted. The Finn and Rose story feels out of place in the movie, and the Poe story takes ages to make sense, though when it does the pay off is there. Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo definitely needed to be fleshed out more, with the character potentially benefiting from more time, or even a role in The Force AwakensThe Last Jedi is far from perfect, but the ambitious nature of the story meant that it never would be, and that is something I admire about what Johnson is trying to achieve.

Rose and Finn The Last Jedi

Something Johnson did that surprised me was the new way he perceives the Force. With these two new trilogy movies we have began to see new Force abilities not seen in any of the prior movies. The Force is a powerful entity that requires balance, light and dark, something that Johnson begins to explore throughout The Last Jedi. We see how it can protect characters, connect characters and even do some incredible things far beyond “a power that Jedi have that lets them control people and… make things float.” This might not appeal to everyone, especially people who feel that the force is simply mind tricks or telepathy but it furthers the Star Wars lore in ways that none of the other movies have pushed it.

The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi will make some people extremely happy, in particular those who feel wanted something different to what had come before, but with change comes disappointment to those who don’t get the change they wanted to see. Audiences will be polarised by this latest edition to the Star Wars universe, with there not being wide spread hate like there was for the prequels but there was not the same love that the Originals have. I was surprised to see what Johnson did and love what he created, especially with our new characters.

Recommendation:

See it, but as the great Jedi Master Luke Skywalker says, “This is not going to go, the way you think.” If you see it for a second time, see it with fresh eyes; carry no emotion or expectations in with you.

The Last Jedi Hamill

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Graham says:

    Interesting review. Feels like you might opt for around 8.5/10?

    I saw it last weekend and found it entertaining but there are certain things that I found quite annoying on reflection. First is the script, use of words like “cops”, “perps”, “spunk” and “Godspeed” all felt like they had no place in a Star Wars film to me. God doesn’t exist in this galaxy far far away in my opinion. I really hated the bit at the end when Poe introduced himself to Rey which was one of the most cringeworthy moments I think I’ve ever seen in cinema (surely they’d have met by now?). I agree with what you say about Finn’s story, I’d go as far as to say it was pointless and they could’ve cut it out. Some of the characters like the cleaners at the Jedi temple were pointless also. Maybe 6.5 to 7/10 for me.

    But will I go and see the next one? Probably. But I think that this could then be the end of my Star Wars saga, if not Disney’s corporate machine.

    On a side note, did you think Carrie Fisher looked extremely frail and unwell? I’m surprised she made it through filming. It’ll be interesting to see how they explain her exit away…perhaps the next film will just begin with a funeral.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great review! I saw this movie last Thursday night and loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Derrick says:

    I agree with you when you say that the best way to go into THE LAST JEDI with no expectations. The reason legions of fans were disappointed and even outright hated the movie was that they’d built up all these expectations for the movie that it could never live up to.

    Me? I loved it. I’ve been a STAR WARS fan since 1977 when I had what amounted to the closest thing I’ll ever come to a religious experience when I saw the movie during it’s original theatrical run (I was in my senior year of HS) and I want to see the universe George Lucas created thrive, grow and change.

    Only complaint I got with the movie? I was waiting for the Force Ghost of Yoda to say to Luke; “Know you now how felt I when on Dagobah showed up you did, yes?”

    Liked by 1 person

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