Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Movie Review – A fearless, unpredictable sequel.

At last, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is finally upon us. I have been anticipating this film greatly like many others have, ever since the credits rolled at the end of The Force Awakens. Be aware this is a completely spoiler free review, I won’t even explain the plot because there’s a certain level of excitement and anticipation, that surrounds reading the opening crawl for a new Star Wars film, and I don’t want to ruin that.

One criticism many people had when retroactively looking back upon The Force Awakens, is the film’s similarities to A New Hope. If you feared The Last Jedi would follow too closely to The Empire Strikes Back, fear not. Rian Johnson’s script is bold and unpredictable. The script takes risks and almost all of them pay off, you’ll be left with many things to think about and process by the time it all ends. I found the film to be riveting, I had my heart in my throat for the majority of the run time. The level of emotional investment I had with the characters and how nervous and on edge some sequences made me feel, is a feeling I have rarely ever felt whilst watching a film. Situations that put the characters into peril worked really effectively, I felt as if nobody was completely safe or guaranteed to get the best of the situations they’re in, and it’s a credit to the scripts unpredictability that allowed me to fear for characters in that way. This is something that is very rare in blockbuster films such as this.

The performances from Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver were both outstanding, and that is both a credit to them as actors and also to how Rey and Kylo were written within the script. Rian’s script does an excellent job taking these characters to the next level, putting them in new situations that are completely different to what we had experienced with them in The Force Awakens. The script also elevates the material these actors had to work with, to help resonate the characters with the audience even more. At it’s core, the film is first and foremost character driven, the development of these characters drive the story that surrounds them and this approach works really well. The level of character development on display is superb, particularly with Rey, Kylo and Luke. Both Daisy and Adam portray their characters with a sophisticated high level of depth and attention, their work here make for some of the best and most emotionally driven performances in the Star Wars saga thus far. The way they are developed also felt organic and faithful to the characters we got to know in The Force Awakens, Rey is still trying to search for her place amongst everything she was thrusted into, come the end of The Force Awakens. Meanwhile Kylo’s conflicted nature is expanded upon and taken to new heights. I loved this character both before and after seeing The Force Awakens, now having seen The Last Jedi I am tremendously pleased with how he is treated and developed in this film.

Mark Hamill’s performance as Luke is one of the best on screen performances I have ever seen him give. It’s an emotionally damaged and layered performance , in which he evokes so much emotion that it becomes very compelling. Oscar Issac has a couple dramatic moments which showcase his power as an actor, and why he’s one of the strongest working today. I like the direction Poe was taken in, the script showcases some of his flaws as he butts heads with some other characters, who believe he let’s his heroic nature get in the way of making the correct decisions and being a great leader. John Boyega didn’t have much to do in terms of displaying the level of charisma, we seen in The Force Awakens with his portrayal of Finn, his role is more serious this time round but I still believe John excelled with material he was given. There’s a new character called Rose, played by Kelly Marie Tran. I liked Rose, she has her own motivations and reasons for wanting to step forward and fight for the resistance, and those reasons are fuelled by things that I thought were well woven into the script. Also I thought her dynamic and developing friendship with Finn worked nicely. The late Carrie Fisher’s performance as Leia surprised me, she got a lot more to do here than she did in the previous film and Carrie handled the material well, often portraying Leia as a wise leader who tried her best to get out of the situations the Resistance is faced with, whilst maintaining a focused and a level head. Andy Serkis has always been one of the most under appreciated actors in my opinion, it’s easy to overlook the high level of performance that has gone into bringing Supreme Leader Snoke to life. Andy brings a suitable level of menace and power to the role, not only in the motion capture movements but also in the strength of his voice work. Both Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro appear as new characters and I thought they both gave good performances, although Benicio’s character did feel a little out of place and not like a Star Wars character.

There’s some great crowd pleasing surprises in this film and there’s also some shocking unexpected risks, which links back to what I said about the heart in the throat feeling I had whilst watching the film. I just didn’t know what was going to happen next, it had me riveted and literally on the edge of my seat for most of the film. There’s quite a lot of humour injected into the script and that mostly works. Some jokes did fall flat and one in particular, took a very dramatic anticipated moment, and resolved it by using humour which was completely unexpected, and days after seeing the film I still can’t work out if I approve of how that scene was handled.

Back in 2012 I stated in one of my YouTube videos that Rian Johnson would be my first choice to direct a Star Wars film, fast forward five years and he’s done exactly that. He also didn’t let me down either, the direction is solid and the cinematography is wonderful, there’s some beautiful imagery on display in certain scenes and the way some shots are composed make them feel like pieces of art. The visual effects were as good as you’d expect them to be, except for a couple scenes where the green screen was very noticeable and broke the immersion of the scene a little bit.

Now for the negatives, the main thing I think could’ve been better, linking back to the direction and the script is the structure of the story, as well as the editing. The film jumps about between different characters in different locations very often, and sometimes the transitions between these scenes isn’t smooth. Now that could be put down to the editing but it’s also due to the structure. There’s a lot going on in the film, it’s two and a half hours long but I think the film could’ve been structured better, with certain scenes in certain places to make it all flow better as a whole. My next issue revolves around sequence on a planet called Canto Bight, I have problems with the scenes on that planet, I just didn’t like the sequence and how things played out. It slowed the film down, it was the one time during the run time where I was waiting for it to pick up the pace and move forward onto the next scene. Funnily enough it’s one of the longest sequences in the film, so it started to drag and I felt it definitely could’ve been cut down to fit within the rest of the film better. The final thing I have an issue with is the fact that some characters barely appear in the film, and when they do finally show up they don’t get the fulfilment I had desired, resulting in these characters getting short changed.

Overall Star Wars: The Last Jedi is bold, unpredictable and exciting. If you watch it with an open mind then certain aspects will blow your mind. The positives certainly outweigh the negatives, and I commend Rian Johnson for being fearless with some of the choices he decided to make when writing the script.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

(4 Stars Out of 5)

-T.Graham.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Starring Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Carrie Fisher, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro.

Directed by Rian Johnson.

Now showing in U.K. and U.S. Cinemas.

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