Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis
Star Wars is easily the world’s most recognisable movie franchise. It’s no wonder that so many people hold is so close to their hearts and even feel a certain ownership towards the space saga. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess (now General) Leia, Darth Vader, C3P0 and R2D2 have become important parts of cinematic history and some fans may even feel that they are part of their own family.
What writer-director Rian Johnson decided to do with Star Wars: The Last Jedi was to take the franchise away slightly from the Skywalker saga, explore new themes, new parts of the galaxy and be bold and brave. This is something that previous Star Wars films in the past have been slightly afraid to do, including J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The Last Jedi starts off where The Force Awakens ended. The battle between The Resistance and The New Order continues. Leia’s Resistance is in a bad state after the events of The Force Awakens left the Republic in tatters after Starkiller Base’s attack.
I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.
On the complete other side of the galaxy, we have Rey on Ahch To who is trying to convince Luke to rejoin the Resistance and help them in their ongoing battle with The New Order. However, she finds him to be very unhelpful. I’ll stop the synopsis here for fear of spoilers. I want to keep this review as spoiler-free as I can.
Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the bravest and most groundbreaking Star Wars film ever made. He set out to break the mound we have come to expect from a Star Wars movie. This isn’t only in the way the film is shot and edited (it’s beautifully shot by the way), but also in the way the story unfolds. The Last Jedi is full of unexpected twists and turns the likes of which we haven’t seen from a Star Wars movie before.
A lot of people think back to the iconic moment in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader tells Luke that he is his father. Many people may have expected something similar to happen in this film (I won’t say about whom), yet Johnson shies away from the Star Wars tropes and manages to create something new in the process.
We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down.
Now, let’s try and move away from some of the more spoilery details of the film and take a more ‘Jedi’ approach to this review. It’s time to search my feelings. How did this film make me feel? I’m going to be honest. After watching it I wasn’t quite sure how I felt. There were some scenes and some plot choices which puzzles me slightly. Johnson’s film had also answered many of the questions I had from The Force Awakens but I wasn’t entirely sure where I was satisfied with the answers or not.
However, upon reflection, it dawned on me how important Johnson’s film really was for the Star Wars franchise moving forward. It shows that the Jedi can be so much more than what we knew them to be. It is chocked full of human emotions and characters make choices that feel far more ‘human’ than in any of the previous Star Wars films. It’s also very funny. This film is full of jokes and I do understand people saying that in parts it felt more like a Marvel movie, but I feel that the levity was needed because this film explores a lot of dark themes.
Among the themes explored are abandonment, mental health, cruelty to animals, social inequality, the truths behind war, war in general… They’re all very poignant to our world today and I’m sorry to say have been lacking from Star Wars films of the past. Johnson was willing to tackle these themes head on and he did so in a Star Wars movie which is extremely brave and progressive.
I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi… to end.
Then there are the performances. This film gives all the actors a decent amount of screen time to show how good they are. Daisy Ridley is wonderful yet again as the good yet conflicted Rey, Mark Hamill demonstrates that if you give him some lines of dialogue that actually make sense in a Star Wars movie he can deliver you an awards-worthy performance. John Boyega demonstrates that Finn is so much more than just a comedic role.
Oscar Isaac is brilliant as Poe, the trigger-happy fighter pilot who needs to learn how to truly become a leader. Then there’s Carrie Fisher, who delivers a note-perfect performance as Leia who’s strong, wise and the leader that the Resistance so desperately needs. Andy Serkis is brilliant yet again as Supreme Leader Snoke and shows how he’s able to play absolutely anyone. Domhnall Gleeson’s Hux once again wonderful toes the line between comedic value and insane Nazi general.
Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be.
There are also fine performances from Star Wars newbies such as Benicio Del Toro (although I would have preferred less stuttering), Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico and Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Holdo.
I do understand why the film’s been met with some ‘resistance’ (pardon the pun) from Star Wars fans. It’s the least Star Wars-y film ever. Yet, what Johnson has done is factor in what’s so fundamental to the Star Wars franchise and incorporated some of his own ideas, his own filmmaking prowess and has managed to bring the next generation of Star Wars films forward. It may not be the film that some of the fans wanted, but it’s the film that the franchise needed and I’m sure that in time people will understand how important The Last Jedi truly is.