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Written By: Rick Masters
Is the force strong with this one or is the dark side taking hold?
Directed by Rian Johnson (who directed 2012’s Sci-Fi epic “Looper”), The Last Jedi picks up where The Force Awakens finished with the rebels in a desperate escape attempt from the grips of the new order. A dramatic and action-packed space battle plays out before we return to our hero Ray and her plea with Luke to come to the rebels rescue.
Theres an awful lot I love about this new instalment in the Star Wars franchise, first and foremost its the quality of acting portrayed here… Ray (Daisy Ridley) is everything you would ever want from a films heroine. She’s an enormously strong role-model for young girls: intelligent, feisty and resourceful as well as being emotional and gorgeous. Her performance here was nothing short of phenomenal. And matching her beat for beat was Mark Hamill who returns as Luke Skywalker. The scenes with these two are easily some of the best moments in the film.
The trend for strong female characters continues with some of the key leaders of the rebel alliance – Leia and newcomer Vice Admimal Holdo (Jurassic Park’s Laura Dern) are, both strong and powerful leaders. The late Carrie Fisher delivers a great performance in her final outing as the Princess and she will be missed massively going forward.
Serkis as Snoke has some moments of brilliance even through his Mo-Cap CGI. That being said I would have preferred an actual actor in his place. I believe an actor could have provided us with a more sinister character and would have had more of a presence. Benicio del Toro (“Sicario”) is also a welcome surprise and plays a quirky and memorable mercenary who I hope we’ll see again.
There’s some humour to be found in this outing (the alien cow thing made me chuckle) but I felt it missed the mark on a number of occasions. I didn’t find it a particularly funny film, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It helps with the tone of the film and keeps thing relatively serious.
Technically, the film excels. John Williams once again delivers a rousing and powerful score, beating The Force Awakens soundtrack easily. The film also delivers some eye-wateringly good CGI, with scenes set on “bloody salt flats” being particularly impressive. The space battles are high energy and exciting, ripped directly from every Star Wars fans wet dreams. There are moments of sheer cinematic joy, with one particular dramatic and devastating moment being one of the greatest heart in mouth, goosebump causing moments I’ll witness all year! A child in front gasped “oh my god” in sheer amazement upon witnessing this and it’s these moments which sum up exactly what cinema is all about!
These visuals coupled with some of the most impressive sound effects I’ve ever heard make this entire movie a sensory treat. The crackle from the lightsabers as they burn through armour to the ground shaking depth of the explosions… I was opened mouthed and tingling throughout. There’s no doubt this film features some of the greatest moments ever witnessed in Star Wars lore to date.
Where the force is weaker though is with the story, also by Rian Johnson. The film is (unnecessarily) over-long and has a very inconsistent pace. My biggest gripe is with Finns little adventure with his new sidekick Rose Tico (played by Kelly Marie Tran). It almost feels as though they didn’t know what to do with John Boyegas character in this film and their entire quest seems like a waste of time. That’s not to say there weren’t a few decent moments from their adventures but ultimately is wasn’t needed nor did I care for it in any way.
Another annoyance was the amount of questionable moments that spring up throughout, including the deaths of some characters that had been built up and had so much more potential, only to be snubbed out a little too easily (and perhaps too early) or with no reason AT ALL. One of the final moments left me scratching my head and ultimately disappointed.
Some questions are answered but one in particular was incredibly frustrating regarding Rays parents. Hopefully this is a set up for an Episode IX twist, if not then I CALL BULLSHIT.
The editing seemed a touch broken at times too. One transition was particularly jarring. Star Wars was always known for its clever scene transitions, but here we jump from location to location in a notably choppy and clunky manner.