Monday 19 March 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★★

Since becoming a Disney franchise, ‘Star Wars’ has made an excellent comeback, exciting existing fans and even making some new ones (myself included). ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ was a such a brilliant re-introduction that Disney had set themselves a tough act to follow with the latest film, which is the middle of a trilogy (which most likely will be followed by another trilogy, if the past is anything to go by).

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ follows on from the death of Han Solo and annihilation of the last remnants of the Galactic Republic. There’s only a handful of rebels left, though the First Order has had losses itself through the destruction of its planet Destroyer. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has finally managed to locate Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is believed to be the only way of saving the galaxy and putting an end to the First Order and the increasingly dangerous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

It’s not as easy as it sounds though as Luke isn’t having any of it, so Rey has to find a way to change his mind whilst the rest of the rebels face attacks from the First Order. Their head count is getting smaller and smaller by the minute, and both Ren and General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) aren’t planning on slowing down.

If you’ve read any other reviews of ‘The Last Jedi’ then you’ll know by now that it’s received a very mixed criticism - lots of fans love it, yet many superfans were turned off because it just didn’t feel much like the original ‘Star Wars’. They’ve both got a point - although I’m not a superfan and have limited knowledge of the originals, even I could sense the overbearing feeling of all things Disney as I watched it. It’s not completely different though, as there’s an interesting mix of both Disney and the style of Lucasfilm that, although bizarre at points, mostly works. It’s easy to get precious about a series that you’ve grown up with but, considering the feedback on ‘The Force Awakens’ (in particular how some felt it was a rehash of the very first ‘Star Wars’ film) I think we got a pretty good deal with this one.

If anything’s off it’s the Disney-style humour, which I felt was just slightly too frequent at points. There’s a couple of plot holes too, but nothing massively major and that’s really the only negative thing I can say about it. What it maybe lacks in consistency it completely makes up in acting, visuals, sound, and storyline, with it all tying seamlessly together like the last one did. There were some scenes I really wasn’t expecting, such as a major character dying, but this was nicely refreshing as that surprise is something that’s often lacking from movies today (maybe I watch too many films, but finding a film where I can’t predict it all within the first half an hour is, sadly, a rarity). 

The CGI is realistic and beautiful throughout, as are the real-life locations such as Luke’s hiding place, which is actually a real island off the coast of Ireland (yes, you can travel there - no, you won’t have to drink the milk of the Thala-Siren). One thing that really stuck with me in ‘The Force Awakens’ was the use of sound, and this time it’s no different - that heart-stopping noise of The Force is just as powerful as before. Again, the fighting scenes are truly gripping, although this time they’re even more brutal than before. I also can’t fault the acting, with Driver really making the role of Kylo Ren his own and demonstrating such conflict in a character that I don’t think anyone else could have played that role as well.

What really makes the film though is the selection of themes that it explores. Obviously the plot focuses on the war between the rebels and the First Order, but really ‘The Last Jedi’ is a wonderful take on both character conflict and self-discovery, and it’s these moments in the film that really make it. Yes, the action scenes are brilliant (and there are a lot of them) but those intimate yet wary conversations between Rey and Kylo are what really stick in your mind. 

I ended up watching ‘The Force Awakens’ four times overall and, although ‘The Last Jedi’ isn’t quite as breathtaking as its predecessor, I can still see myself enjoying it multiple times.

Hannah Read

Star Wars: The Last Jedi at CeX

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