Star Wars: The Last Jedi, 2017.
Written and Directed by Rian Johnson.
Starring Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran, Benicio del Toro, Billie Lourd, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Jimmy Vee, Tim Rose, Warwick Davis, Hermione Corfield, and Veronica Ngo.
Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.
In the trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker says “This is not going to go the way you think.” That sentence doesn’t just apply to the characters within the movie, but the audience as well. Director Rian Johnson crafts a fine Star Wars film that is full of surprises, character development and heart.
Much like The Empire Strikes Back before it, Johnson takes the foundation of J.J. Abrams The Force Awakens and builds upon it, moving the series in a new and unexpected direction. The Last Jedi feels fresh and is different from most of the other Star Wars films. It is an introspective look at the legacy of Luke Skywalker and the other characters while also offering some meta-commentary about the franchise itself.
Much of the character development is great. Rey continues to be a captivating hero with Daisy Ridley pulling us into her emotional conflict. She’s still trying to find her place within the galaxy and believes studying The Force under Luke is the answer she’s looking for. Her arc is one of the most interesting because she plays off of Mark Hamill a lot and has plenty of interesting discussions on the nature of The Force. The Last Jedi delves into the philosophy behind the all-powerful energy that feels familiar while also opening up future instalments further.
Hamill himself is great in his role as an aged and cynical Luke Skywalker, one who has questioned his and the Jedi’s place in the galaxy. In many ways he is the heart of this film as he trains Rey and rediscovers his purpose. The late Carrie Fisher similarly excels in her role, providing just as much heart as Hamill does. It is bittersweet seeing her onscreen, but she gives a great performance that displays Leia’s strength of character and her chemistry with the cast is great.
Adam Driver gives a much more layered performance as Kylo Ren this time round. His actions are entirely unpredictable as you’re never quite sure which way he’ll swing and Driver sells the conflict within him through his facial expressions, body language and line delivery. There is a lot of subtlety Driver puts into his performance. John Boyega also improves as Finn as he gives a bit more of a serious take with Finn than in Force Awakens. Oscar Isaac also gets more to do in this film, both with the size of his role and the development Poe Dameron goes through from the best Resistance pilot to more of a leader.
Newcomers Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro also do well with their roles, particularly Dern. Tran shares some good chemistry with Boyega and gets a nice amount of development, though del Toro’s DJ is somewhat underdeveloped and while Dern does deliver some good moments, her character could also have benefited from a bit more screentime.
The film is well paced for the most part. The only real issue is in the middle act involving one of the stories that seems to drag on for a while with the same problem happening again and again. Despite that, The Last Jedi moves along fairly well. As mentioned above, Johnson devotes a lot of time to discussion around the nature and use of The Force, developing the connection between Luke, Rey and Kylo Ren. It is some interesting and thought provoking scenes that help take The Last Jedi, and by extension Episode IX and the future of the series, into a new direction.
Being a Star Wars film, it’s no surprise there are a few memorable set pieces, from the lightsaber fights to the ground battles. The fight choreography is very well done, but what helps elevate these scenes is the cinematography. The Last Jedi looks beautiful with some excellent visuals that really pop off the screen. The climax is one of the best looking that has been featured in Star Wars thanks to its cinematography and colours.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi definitely moves the franchise in a new and different arena. Johnson takes a lot of chances and pulls some surprising moves with most of them paying off. It gives fans the feeling that a chapter is truly closing while a new one is beginning with a great cast that has grown comfortable in their roles. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is very well directed, visually astounding and one of the best films of the year.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★