Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Stellar Success or Universal Failure?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

Rutime: 152mins | Director: Rian Johnson | Rating: 3.75 Stars

Unlike many, I’m not a huge Star Wars fan. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the films, but I’ve never had that die-hard fan status which many feel. I also would likely be demonised by a lot of these die-hard fans, as to their horror, I actually really enjoy the prequel trilogy, and, dare I say it…. I liked Jar-Jar Binks. As a result of this, I went into Star Wars: The Last Jedi with an open mind and no romanticised bias and came out thinking, overall, it was a great film (despite having some glaring flaws).

The Last Jedi follows the various stories of those in the Rebel Alliance and their attempts to stop The First Order. Whilst this is occurring, Rey (Daisy Ridley) seeks out Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to teach her the ways of the force and convince him to re-join the Alliance in an attempt to bring down Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his apprentice, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who threaten to take over the galaxy.

One thing Star Wars has always excelled in is its action sequences and The Last Jedi isn’t any different. Whether this comes as a result of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), the unusually gifted Rebel Alliance pilot weaving with ease around incoming laser beams to guide his squad to victory, or Rey and Kylo Ren demonstrating their skills (and ferocity) with a lightsaber - it is a film to be awed. More importantly, though, no expense was spared on visual effects. Unfortunately, good CGI is something which can’t be taken for granted these days (Justice League is still a sensitive subject for me…) yet The Last Jedi makes its universe appear as real as one can expect from a film filled with aliens and laser swords.


The Last Jedi also excelled in its cinematography, courtesy of Steven Yedlin. After I saw Blade Runner 2049, I was convinced that there wasn’t another film that could be released this year that could rival it. Whilst I still stand by this, The Last Jedi has one scene in it which, for me, wins hands down. Of course, I’m talking about the scene where Admiral Holdo sends her ship at lightspeed through another to save the last of the Rebel Alliance who are escaping. Rather than the calamitous crash we expect to hear, we are gifted with silence accompanied by the most stunning slow-motion shots of the ship splintering apart – it was nothing short of cinematic magic. An honourable mention also goes to the scene where Luke is staring at the two suns before he fades, bringing his character full circle from his first appearance on Tatooine in A New Hope – a nice nod to the original films.

Now, whilst the acting in The Last Jedi, on the whole, was good, Adam Driver undeniably stole the show. When I first saw Driver in The Force Awakens, I wasn’t convinced he would be a good villain – after this instalment, I am. Not only was he compelling and fun to watch, but Kylo Ren has become one of my favourite villains in a fantasy based film for a long time. More often than not villains lack any real depth, but this is something Ren has plenty of and it is explored thoroughly throughout - something I really enjoyed seeing.

Unfortunately, however, this brings me to my first criticism of The Last Jedi. Whilst a lot of the acting was good, the script in a lot of places wasn’t – there was far too much comedy in places where there was no need for it. I understand that humour has always played a big part in the Star Wars franchise, but this just felt overbearing – a good example is a tedious exchange between Poe and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) at the beginning of the film. Whilst I can see people finding this funny, for me, it just felt like they were trying to imitate something similar to Guardians of the Galaxy and failed.

Secondly, after the Force Awakens positioned Supreme Leader Snoke as one of the most powerful and intimidating villains the universe has to offer, I was disappointed when he was killed off, and in a very underwhelming way. Given that previously in the film he is shown to manipulate both Kylo Ren and Rey, it seems unlikely that he wouldn’t anticipate one of them tampering with the very conveniently placed lightsaber at his side, making his death not only disappointing but also unblievable…

One final note is that I’ve always been a sucker for a lightsaber fight – maybe that’s why I liked the prequels so much as they had so many; Obi-Wan and Qui Gon v. Darth Maul, various people v. Count Dooku, Obi-Wan v. General Grievous, Yoda v. Darth Sidious to name but a few, and that is one thing The Last Jedi lacked. Given that in the story the Jedi are a dying species, it is understandable why there aren’t as many lightsaber fights – still, this doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Saying that though, the duel between Kylo Ren and Rey was one of the highlights of the film for me – I just wish that they’d included more. Perhaps Kylo could have duelled Snoke to the death? This certainly seems a more glorious and appropriate end for him given they wanted him killed off.

Despite my criticisms and the surrounding controversy in the media, the most important thing to be said about The Last Jedi is that it is a lot of fun to see, despite grappling with some serious, and often quite intense, issues. Whilst it may not be the best Star Wars film ever made, it is still a worthy addition to the universe and one I’d recommend seeing. May the force be with you!


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