Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi is finally with us and I was lucky enough to catch it last night (this morning) at the opening screening. This is a brief overview of my own thoughts on the film and in no way a definitive review (that will come later) and contains no spoilers.
I had high hopes for The Last Jedi, I knew what I wanted to see and what I wanted to be built upon from The Force Awakens and I knew where I wanted the story to go, for me, most of what I wanted was delivered on.
There was fair criticism on The Force Awakens that it almost re-told a story we all knew, it hit on action scenes, character development and relationships that we all had seen already in the Star Wars franchise and I can say that The Last Jedi doesn’t follow this trend, it feels like a more original Star Wars film, much like Rogue One did despite being part of the larger overarching canon. That being said The Last Jedi didn’t take as many risks as I had hoped, it operated outside by right up against the Star Wars formula, which isn’t by any means a bad thing, it’s a great film, it took some risks and is absolutely a great Star Wars film I just wish, personally that they had stretched out a touch more.
As part of the new trilogy, The Last Jedi surpasses The Force Awakens easily and sets up the next episode in a way that means anything could happen. There are some unexpected moments that stitch together new, underpinning plots which add a new tone to the story. Director Rian Johnson managed to make a potent blend of emotion, action and yes, some comedy. Some of the humour seems a little out of place but in no way damages the film.
Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill work superbly together, Hamill nails the role of a troubled warrior, Luke sees something in Rey but he’s wary of tapping her potential, Rey, on the other hand, is in permanent rage mode and ready to go whenever and wherever which is great to see. Kylo Ren also has some of his own development, we see him in front of his master and how he reacts to the pressure of being the apprentice, his conflict we saw in Episode 7 is still there and is built upon which will please most fans who have an interest in seeing a more fleshed out Ren.
I felt Finn’s role was somewhat subdued this time around, he seems less charismatic but for his arc throughout the film the change in tone works, it just would have been nice to see a little more of that lovable Finn personality shine through. The addition of new characters work well too, they appear where needed and when they are needed and none of them feels forced into the story, there is a place for everything and everything is firmly in its place in terms of the cast of characters.
We also, of course, have to mention Carrier Fisher and her final role. She plays the steely, battled weary General again perfectly, she provides some dry humour, she acts as the icon of hope in the galaxy and mentor to those who serve under her. Her leadership style is still cautious as they face the First Order and continue to learn exactly what they are up against. Speaking of the First Order, I personally enjoy them as the enemy, the Empire always seemed a bit incompetent, famous for legions of Storm Troopers who would struggle to hit a Death Star sized target. The First Order is a genuinely violent and foreboding enemy which the Star Wars universe needed, replacing the Empire who just felt much like an inconvenience rather than a galactic war machine.
I can safely say that not all fan questions are answered and I didn’t expect them to be, some, however, are addressed and of course new questions arise as we head towards the next instalment.
Overall The Last Jedi lives up to the hype, it builds and improves upon Episode 7 and certainly moves the story on a great deal, it’s fast-paced and well drive, thought out and executed. I am immediately excited for the next Star Wars film, be it a spin-off or the next episode and I think it speaks volumes that Disney have been able to spark new interest in the Star Wars universe.