As the credits of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi rolled, I was overwhelmed with so many feelings. It took time to bring together everything I had just seen, and it might be days before I’m done processing it. Overall, I was happy, and had a nice time with my best friends, celebrating a franchise dear to us. But then the most horrifying, dreadful thought loomed over me…
“I have to review this film without spoiling it”
I cannot stress enough how hard to it is to accurately convey my thoughts on this film without going into detail, but never the less, it makes my blood boil when critics carelessly ruin big films for no good reason, and I do not intend to ruin this for anyone. So if you won’t get a chance to see this upon release, fear not, for this review is spoiler free. However, as I noticed minutes after the midnight screening of The Force Awakens, there are those out there who find some twisted fun in ruining something that’s important to a lot of people, so while we’re going to keep things under wraps, be wary of where you browse, for others may not be so kind.
To say as little as possible about the plot, The Last Jedi picks up where it’s predecessor left off; Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and seeks guidance for her newfound abilities, while the battle between the Resistance and the First Order rages on. The film does a fairly good job of dividing it’s time between the ongoing threads, though the story concerning Finn (John Boyega) and newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) messes with the film’s pacing just a little bit, but nothing too damaging. It’s an absolute whirlwind of a film that’s nothing like we’ve seen in the Star Wars saga. Rian Johnson was an excellent choice of director, and the ballsy nature of this film makes the prospect of returning to J.J. Abrams for the last instalment a little bit concerning. Abrams is a good director, but he’s also very safe, which was great for The Force Awakens but will be very jarring after this entry into the franchise, should that still be the route he chooses. Regardless, I’m grateful for Johnsons’ unique stamp on the franchise.
The Last Jedi is far more of a mixed bag than we may have expected or hoped; there are decisions made that are no doubt brave, but will also no doubt confuse or anger a lot of fans, myself included. Certain things that are brought up that are never addressed again, or elements that add nothing of value to the film – Yes, I am referring to Porgs – humour that often doesn’t land (though there are some good zingers in there), and it wouldn’t be unfair to say the film goes on for a little bit too long. Ultimately, it’s just a case of daring decisions that don’t pay off. But on the flip side, there are other decisions that took balls to make and put out there to an audience who have spent two years building up and speculating, and while there’s still every chance that they may not follow through on them, right now I can’t tell you just how refreshed I was by these moments. When The Last Jedi shines, it truly shines. It offers so much in terms of not only the present but the past of this series, asking more questions and giving us more than meets the eye, showing us things and events that are nowhere near as simple as they appear. It’s tantalising, and best of all, it’s doesn’t overplay it; whereas in the prequels these events may have been explained in depth via terrible exposition, The Last Jedi reflects the far more nuanced nature of the original trilogy, proving that less is more and treating the audience with a little more respect.
Performance wise, it’s top marks all around; Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver are both sensational, and our beloved Carrie Fisher is an undeniable force in this film. Oscar Isaac is as charming as ever, not to mention he handles the development to Poe’s character well Domhall Gleeson remains a brilliant and underrated addition to the cast, and John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran sustain a great chemistry in their time together. But all props here to Mark Hamill, a man who never hides just how much he loves this franchise, and how he loves his fans even more, and this film provides his most satisfying and rewarding performance to date. The events that took place after Return of the Jedi are ever present in the way he acts, and though his stamp on the series was already forever solidified, he truly outdoes himself here. And as far as the action is concerned, we’re treated to some excellent space battles with a lot of grip to them, and the fight scenes that take place between the characters are shot to perfection. Johnson has provided us with easily some of the best combat to be seen in a Star Wars film.
When the film finished, nothing about it felt real; it’s a natural feeling when you wait so long for it, the idea that it’s finally there in front of you is difficult to grasp. You feel like you should still be anticipating it, but even further than that, seeing the events that took place and what they mean for Star Wars is nothing short of surreal. Perhaps part of it was not accepting that this film is flawed, that those moments that didn’t work just did not feel real, but ultimately, it’s an unique and indescribable experience that truly has a lot to offer.
To all you Star Wars fans out there, I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. Above all else, it’s a beautiful time to love this franchise.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out now!