Star Wars: The Last Jedi
UK Release: 14/12/2017
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis
It’s been a long journey to get to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Not just for the film’s heroes.
It feels like an age since we first saw Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) climbing the steps of Skywalker’s hidden retreat, to find the ageing Jedi Master. Reaching out to him, presenting him with his old lightsaber, and looking on with unspoken awe, she carried the hopes and dreams of the entire Resistance… not to mention every Star Wars fans.
What would the old Jedi make of this new, awakened Force user?
Will Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hamill) train the young Jedi wannabe?
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens raised plenty of questions, and The Last Jedi does answer some of them… but much like Skywalker explains in the recent trailer: “This is not going to go the way you think.”
The Last Jedi is full of surprises.
Everything that’s set up in The Force Awakens comes to fruition in this movie. The groundwork has been laid, and director Rian Johnson uses it as a platform to create something truly unique and special. It’s beautiful, brilliant, emotional and hilarious – sometimes it’s all of those things at once.
And it’s very often entirely unexpected.
After The Resistance destroyed Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, it would have been easy to see The First Order on the back foot. But it was just a minor setback, and instead, we find The Resistance being hounded across the galaxy – doggedly pursued by an enemy that’s out for revenge. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a remarkably similar setup to one of the greatest Star Wars movies ever made, The Empire Strikes Back.
But it’s no mere facsimile.
Rian Johnson takes familiar themes – often ones we’ve seen sown throughout the Star Wars saga – and gives it his own, unique twist. Here are hints of family issues, relationship woes, and even obvious comparisons between characters new and old. Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) lives up to the flyboy archetype of Han Solo… even if he does play it with a bit more heart straight off the bat. But where the familiarities feel comforting, Johnson mixes it all up with some excellent twists and turns. Just when you think you’ve got an idea of what’s going to happen, the rug is pulled out from under you. The Last Jedi expertly traverses some of our favourite, nostalgic aspects of the Star Wars saga, while being different enough to still surprise us. It’s one of the best examples to date of how a filmmaker can utilised nostalgia to great effect, while also bringing something new to the table.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of fan-servicing moments.
There are set pieces and character scenes that Star Wars fans will have been dreaming about for a long time. Watching the old master Luke Skywalker holding his lightsaber once more is almost spine-tinglingly cool. And it’s not just the old classics who get their moments to shine, either.
Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver) is the stand-out in The Last Jedi. If you thought he seemed tortured while killing his father in The Force Awakens, it’s nothing compared to the anguish and heartache he portrays in The Last Jedi. Adam Driver is simply brilliant, able to bring emotional depth to this performance with just a sideways glance.
And Daisy Ridley comes into her own, too. Rey is a force to be reckoned with – never taking no for an answer and pursuing her goals with the tenacity of an abandoned scavenger child, trying to find her place in all of this.
Between Rey and Kylo Ren, we get some of the most impressive action sequences of the entire Star Wars saga. There’s a sequence about halfway through the movie which gives us the lightsaber battle we’ve all been dying to see. Again, it doesn’t go the way you think.
There’s plenty of brilliant moments from the film’s supporting players, too. There’s some hilarious exchanges between Kylo Ren and General Hux (played by Domhnall Gleeson) as well as a brilliant ploy by Poe Dameron to get Hux monologuing early in the movie. Then, there’s the brilliant addition of Rose Tico (played by Kelly Marie Tran) – a lowly engineer who quickly finds out that anyone can become a hero. She’s the Star Wars fan turned Star Wars hero that we all hope to become ourselves… and she gets some incredible, kick-ass moments with Resistance hero, Finn (played by John Boyega).
But throughout all its twists and turns, The Last Jedi is full of heart.
It’s a Star Wars movie in every sense of the word – rugged, charming, and with a sense of magic and wonder that we all remember from when we watched our first Star Wars movies as kids.
It’s very easy to draw comparisons between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back. They’re both the second movie in their respective trilogies, and they both have a hell of a lot to live up to. They share plenty of common themes, too. But make no mistake – The Last Jedi is every bit its own movie. It moves the Star Wars saga into uncharted territories, and it’s a delight to watch the franchise try new things.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is one of the best Star Wars movies ever made.
There are some minor niggles, especially with a particularly cheesy moment in the film’s final act, but above all, it captures everything we love about Star Wars.
And it fills us with A New Hope for Star Wars IX and beyond.
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Kelli Marie Tran, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Benicio Del Toro, and Andy Serkis.
Rian Johnson wrote and directed the movie.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi heads to cinemas on 14 December 2017.