The Last Jedi – Review [Spoilers]

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So unlike Holly Willoughby, I’m actually going to give readers  a big fat Wookie sized ****** only read on if you’ve seen the film or your obsessive about being let in on all the secrets of the universe.

The Last Jedi

So this film is basically the perfect blend of old and new. Rian Johnson, of ‘Looper’ fame tells a story that triumphs more than The Force Awakens in giving you the feeling of a new path for the Star Wars franchise. The Force Awakens is special and did give us the blend of new and old but I felt like this film really had the balls to say “let the past die. Kill it if you have to” Obviously this is literally for some characters (RIP) but also in spirit.

I really feel like they’re is a whole new battle to be had in episode 9 that we have witnessed the dawning of and I for one cannot wait to see how it is handled. Most of the Star Wars films sway in one direction whether that is comedy tone, drama, action or shock but ‘The Last Jedi’ actually has all of the above. A film that made me laugh had moments of sheer cinematic beauty and moments that will have your hand placed over ones mouth in shock. Rian Johnson has done the original fans justice whilst also nurturing and giving growth to our new heroes. John Williams and various cast members still reminding us though that we are home.

A Fresh Galaxy

Keeping things fresh and exciting for Star Wars must be hard now. This is the 9th movie and one story in a huge amount of animated and gaming outings too. ‘The Last Jedi’ still manages to keep even the most hard-core of Star Wars fans on their toes though by going back to basics on some things. I am referring to what could be the biggest selling cuddly toys of 2018…Porgs. I rolled my eyes when first hearing about these guys and feared a Jar Jar Binks level of try hard characters or replicas of the already endured Ewoks. In fact what we get here are some lovingly crafted puppetry/animatronic creations that are both believable and help with the backdrop of Ahch-To.

The comedic relief they offer is fleeting and I for one hope that the little fella left on the Falcon in the closing scenes is here to stay.  Ahch-To have the indigenous caretakers who also offer some light hearted silliness amongst the heavy drama.

They also use traditional costuming techniques, looking rooted in reality. Ahch-To is fairly standard as settings go. The humbleness of it all however is conducive to the plot. It’s also just nice to see some actual on location shooting, in a world where some films are put together completely with green screen. One new planet that is introduced here is Crait.

It’s jaw dropping in its visuals. The red salt under the frost adds another layer to every bullet that hits the ground, every ship that skims the surface and every footprint that makes a mark. The home-grown Crystal foxes are also great to look at but I struggled to believe in them as much as I did the Porg’s so maybe less would’ve been more for the Vulptex. It’s also got to be said that the space battles can tend to just pass you by with ships pretty much being the same as throughout all the franchise. Yet another X Wing, Y Wing, Tie Fighter or Destroyer doing what we’ve already seen them do before…

But one particular moment of this film had my jaw hit the floor. I’m talking about the great sacrifice of Amilyn Holdo who uses the ‘hyperspace’ to propel herself into the First Orders biggest gun. It is stunning. The use of sound adds to the drama of it all and is a character defining moment for Laura Dern’s Holdo.

Cast

Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa – It’s truly emotional to witness what will be the last performance from Carrie but also a beautiful way to say goodbye. She like she did in ‘The Force Awakens’ has a superb authoritative presence. One particular moment in this film show Leia displaying her true Force power that as a viewer you’ve almost forgot she even has. It plays out with such a gravitas and serenity that serves as a perfect goodbye to our Princess. My one concern though is that due to her passing it’s pretty much guaranteed that we will have to have an off screen departure for the character in episode 9.

Mark Hammill as Luke Skywalker – For me this is Mark’s best performance ever. A scared old man in hiding and has essentially lost his faith. But then a flicker of hope spurs on a new life in him that unfortunately serves as his last but not without one last hurrah. This hurrah sees a swashbuckling but wise Luke Skywalker that has matured wonders since the little shit who used to shoot womp rats with his T-16. A force ghost is inevitable for someone that helped carve out this franchise and deserves the big part he plays in this new trilogy.

Daisy Ridely as Rey – Again Daisy nails the strong willed, heroic and determined Rey. An ever growing power within her character is put across well and you feel we could see her resembling an actual Knight by the end of the trilogy. Her connection with Adam Driver’s Kylo is luckily not a cheap sexual tension but a tension of soul and spirit. Both play this with a great intensity. The scene where Snoke is killed and Rey and Kylo team up to face his guards gave me Goosebumps and potentially one of the most memorable saber scenes in the Star Wars franchise to date.

Adam Driver as Kylo – As a fellow Ben I may be biased but Adam is outstanding in these films. A petulant child in the last film who now gets some power and it’s kind of terrifying. He’s like a toddler who has picked up a gun. But after witnessing a flashback that sees the failed assassination attempt by Luke you kind of get why he is like he is. Maybe with more of attempt to save him he wouldn’t have become the monster he now is? This glimmer of relatability makes offers some humanity, making you long for Ben Solo to pack it all in and go good.

John Boyega and Oscar Isaac as Finn and Poe – These two continue to develop in new and interesting ways. Finn nearly taking a back step by bailing again but constantly finding himself in the mouth of the beast and drawn to playing the hero a role time and time again. A role that he no longer plays but has now become. His relationship with Rose is a cute friendship and I’m not sure how it would work as anything else.  Poe’s passion is infectious but at what cost.

This interesting debate that opens the film gives a really interesting foundation to the internal Resistance drama and you sway from being with and against Poe’s choices throughout. I love that these films are not simply bad guy vs good guy. Reality is about the different layers of conflict in war.

Newcomers Kelly Tran as Rose& Benico Del Toro as DJ – Roses’ sisters sacrifice scene gives Rose a depth to her unwavering kindness which lasts for the duration of the film. Rose, like her sister seems to be a symbol of good. Kelly Tran has an endearing and magnetic charm. Like I said, the romance with Finn can now go either way but the poignant words she delivers on love and hate could become the most memorable of the film.

Del Toro is a massively established actor already so I was surprised at his casting but he gives us a charming new rogue character that you genuinely don’t know whether to love or hate. An easily identifiable stammer and rugged appearance make DJ very memorable and hopefully someone we see lots of again.

Supporting Cast – Hux undermining Kylo is my favourite thing to watch. His Hitler like appearance and speeches are juxtaposed in one scene with Poe’s quips and the result is hilarious. Domhnall Gleeson plays off Adam Driver in splendid fashion with a glint in the eye. Definitely the doom of Kylo or Hux will be caused by one another at some point. Andy Serkis is grotesque in all the best ways as Snoke but with no actual revelation as to his origins before his death the character now just seems like a fart in the wind.

Laura Dern got me immediately attached to the no nonsense approach of Holdo and even after only being around for a matter of hours you are moved by her passing. Christie’s Phasma is again disappointing. Looks awesome but minimal fighting time and easy defeat once in ‘Force Awakens’ and eventually her demise in this makes the character look a lot less intimating than it should have.

A lovely moment of Nostalgia

Apparently ‘The Last Jedi’ offers a number of cameos. But Tom Hardy in a Stormtrooper outfit means about as much as Daniel Craig in a Stormtrooper outfit so not worth exploring. The most notable ‘Holy Shit’ moment though is the return of a force ghost Yoda. The CGI is incredible. Whether he is created using completely CGI techniques or a mixture of practical effects too I’m not sure.

The glorious outcome is identical to the Stuart Freeborn and Frank Oz creation from back in the 80s. It’s a lovely moment of nostalgia in a film that is carving new paths for itself and Yoda’s appearance offers clarity to Luke’s impending actions meaning it does serve the story. Speaking of nostalgia, R2 now played by Jimmy Vee, Anthony Daniels’ 3PO and now full time Chewie performer Joonas Suotamo only seem to serve as backdrops to the story. With BB-8 kicking ass in ATST’s though, there really is no need to worry for the future is in good hands (robot hands).

The final scene for me is what really got me excited. The inspiration caused by Luke’s (apparent) battle with Kylo has “lit a flame” in people throughout the galaxy, helping start what will hopefully be a new rebel alliance. In the closing shot we see a young boy who previously came across Rose and Finn on Canto Bight who looks like force pull a broom and then mimic holding it like a lightsabre whilst looking out into the stars…could we see a new dawn of Jedi? Will we get all-out war next?

Will the next film be set quite far ahead in the future? Does Kylo still have that conflict that Rey believes he does? Will Luke return as a force ghost? Was Kylo bluffing about Rey’s parent’s story? Who the bloody hell is Snoke or does it even matter anymore? The Last Jedi wonderfully serving its purpose of a second film within a trilogy getting you to beg for number 3.

A Resuscitated Franchise

I can honestly say, as a diehard Star Wars fan, that I am absolutely thrilled and feel confident that newcomers and just general part time movie goers alike will love this film too. For the 2 ½ hours run time it doesn’t drag at all. Well-paced action and snappy scripting throughout. You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll say ‘awesome!’ out loud and you’ll go home waving your broom around like a lightsabre. This franchise has been resuscitated in the last 2 years and ‘The Last Jedi’ confirms that Star Wars has successfully come back to life.

9.5 Porgs out of 10 for Ben outta Ten.

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