Film Review: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

Disney whisks viewers off on another journey to a galaxy far, far away…

Spoiler-free review


SW Last Jedi

The ‘Star Wars’ saga continues with Rian Johnson’s visually astonishing ‘The Last Jedi’.

Starring:  Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis

Directed and written by:  Rian Johnson / 152 minutes

What’s it about?

As the Resistance fights for survival against the First Order, Rey seeks to learn the ways of the Force and draw Luke Skywalker out of exile in the hope of restoring peace to the galaxy…

In review

Following the colossal success of The Force Awakens and Rogue One, Disney unleash their latest cinematic Star Wars adventure with the ominously titled The Last Jedi, episode VIII of the main saga which focuses on the story and legacy of the Force-strong Skywalker family.  Helmed by Looper director Rian Johnson, the title of this latest chapter may imply that all is hopeless with nothing but darkness beyond, yet despite some desperate stakes and high drama there’s still an overriding sense of optimism and a good dose of fun and humour (albeit some of the latter at times feeling out of place) along with the requisite spectacle that’s an essential element of any Star Wars outing.

It’s not a perfect film though and The Last Jedi doesn’t always fulfil its ambitions, there are certainly some wisely employed creative risks and surprising twists but the plot becomes burdened by one sub plot too many and a pace that drags momentum from time to time.  There’s also some commercialism at play, where it seems clear that Disney have one eye on potential merchandising revenue.  That being said, The Last Jedi is at least as good as The Force Awakens, even outshining it some instances though ultimately, it doesn’t achieve the same lauded status of ‘masterpiece’ awarded to classic instalments A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.  Still, The Last Jedi, on the whole, is undeniably a good Star Wars film.

Picking up where The Force Awakens left off, General Leia’s Resistance faces annihilation by the First Order as Leia and her forces are relentlessly pursued by General Hux (a slightly cheesy but enjoyable Domhnall Gleeson) who seeks to eagerly prove himself to the sinister Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).  Leia’s only hope is that Rey can convince Luke Skywalker to cease his self-imposed exile and help end the First Order’s tyranny once and for all.

There is a jumble of sub plots along the way as the story shifts between Rey’s time with Luke and her exploration of the Force, the plight of the dwindling Resistance fleet, Kylo Renn’s continued slide into darkness and Finn’s (now recovered from the injuries he sustained in The Force Awakens) secret mission to a Casino planet.  It all hangs together in the end but it does result in some uneven pacing.  Thankfully, viewers are rewarded with an exciting, emotionally charged and epic final act that can be considered amongst the greatest Star Wars moments ever.

Where The Last Jedi can sometimes stumble in keeping its narrative concise and properly focused, it excels in its characterisation, actor performances and visual appeal.  Firstly, Mark Hamill is superb in a surprisingly more tortured, less hopeful take on Luke Skywalker, here a grizzled, brooding recluse who sees himself as much more of a failure than the legend he is purported to be.  Hamill is given some of the best material to work with and it leads to one of the finest performances of his career.  Likewise, the late Carrie Fisher is captivating in her final screen role with a turn that’s poignant and enlightening and together with Hamill provide The Last Jedi with a strong, satisfying and nostalgic emotional core.  The newer generation of characters are once again a delight, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver are the clear standouts but there’s, pleasingly, an increased function for Oscar Isaac’s fearless Poe Dameron who, beyond more daring feats in the cockpit of an X-Wing, gets to butt heads with Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo.  John Boyega, again, brings a neat balance of fun and seriousness to Finn and although his adventure to Canto Bight is one of the weaker and more unnecessary plot elements it facilitates the introduction of Kellie Mary Tran’s Rose and Benecio Del Toro’s shady convict ‘DJ’.  Andy Serkis turns in another fine motion capture performance as Snoke and is a decent enough villain but it doesn’t feel as though the character quite lives up to the bleak threat that seemed promised in his brief appearance from The Force Awakens.

Director Rian Johnson (who also writes) is a masterful storyteller, delivering some astonishing visuals.  The expected space battles, ground assaults and lightsabre duels are all there and executed with attention and skill but it’s in the quieter, more emotional character focused moments, tied together with some rather trippy Force-infused sequences, that give The Last Jedi its own unique voice and originality – there are things in this film that have never been seen in a Star Wars film before and The Last Jedi is all the better for it.

Anticipation for The Last Jedi has been feverishly high and it’s unlikely to please everyone but as it stands, it’s a strong entry in the Star Wars franchise that’s not without flaws but is a highly enjoyable if not instantly classic SF Fantasy adventure.

The bottom line:  The Last Jedi has its flaws but is without a doubt a good Star Wars film and a highly enjoyable blockbuster that is a worthy addition to the series.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in cinemas now.

11 thoughts on “Film Review: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

  1. Brilliant review. I really enjoyed The Last Jedi, been so much anticipation for this movie. I think for the most part it lives up to all the hype, the plot gets a bit choppy in places, but the stunning effects and strong character moments make this a riveting Star Wars movie. A most worth addition to the saga indeed 🙂

      • I agree, was thinking the same thing. Force Awakens kind of grows on you more after a few more viewings, sure the same thing will go for The Last Jedi. I think its easy to get caught up in the spectacular effects and hype, so much so that its easy to miss the finer nuances of the plot and characterization.

  2. Excellent thoughts you put down here. I’m not sure where I stand with this entry. There are many great moments and material in here but I found so many flaws with the plot and logic that I found to be too distracting and had me asking “why don’t they do this…”, nevertheless this is an intriguing film and warrants a repeat viewing.

  3. Fantastic review as always, Chris. I have to admit that I am part of those who didn’t think this was a good Star Wars movie. I had soooo many WTF moments while watching it, it was scary. The humour is also crazily reminiscent of a lot of Marvel’s superhero movies nowadays. I’m starting to feel a formula, and I don’t like the direction that Disney is going with all their movies. The Last Jedi is still a great and fun movie, especially for families. But ultimately… A lot of things made no sense or were greatly underused. Snoke really seemed like he’d be a huge threat but how they dealt with him was way too easy. The movie however excels visually though. I totally enjoyed it in that department. Love how balanced your review was though. I’m so curious to see what a 100% rant would be like coming from you. You seem to see the light even in the darkest places!! 😀 Have you ever hated something without seeing anything positive to it? I need a review for The Dark Knight Strikes Again or something from you!! 😀

    • Thanks Lashaan, I agree with some of the points you raise – especially concerning the humour it was very Disney/MCU-like and was probably the most irritating element for me. Sure, there was a good dash of humour in ‘The Force Awakens’ but they were genuinely funny moments (likewise with the original trilogy). Alas I am such a geek in love with the things I enjoy that I always try to focus on the more positive aspects haha. Well, if you’re interested in seeing a more negative critique from me, search the blog for my film review of ‘Futureworld’ (the dire sequel to ‘Westworld’)!

  4. YESSS SUPER REVIEW!! Thank god you like it too HAHA I loved this movie, my review has sparked some quite of discussions on the blog 🙂 Happy New Year btw ! Wanna give you a big thank you for being with us since the beginning of everything 😀

  5. Well written piece! I find myself agreeing with a lot of your points. I really enjoyed the film. It was one where, despite its flaws, it managed to overcome its shortfalls with enough to entertain. Indeed, the opening battle is now one of my favourite action sequences of any Star Wars film ever. For a film at over 2 and a half hours it never dragged for me, that in itself says a lot. Abrams and Johnson have done the franchise proud.

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