It’s finally here, after a pretty great year of films we hit December and Star Wars Episode 8 is finally on screens worldwide. The expectations for Rian Johnson’s film were through the roof going into it and it seemed an almost impossible task to live up to the hype. After one viewing I didn’t feel ready to review this film, so this is my first review having seen the film twice.
Picking up right where Episode 7 left off, the opening scenes are engaging and get you straight into the film. Theres no slow open here, we are thrown into The Last Jedi and expected to remember where things ended in the Force Awakens.
From there the films story weaves three seperate stories that all come together towards the finale in what is the boldest and most shocking Star Wars film to date. Not to say that this is an entirely dark movie, in fact there’s more funny moments than you’d think, but the reveals, twists and character choices are so unexpected that I was truly shocked at some of the revelations.
Mark Hamill finally gets to speak and makes his return as my childhood hero Luke Skywalker. He gives what is comfortably for me the best performance he’s ever given in a live action film. This is a character we haven’t seen for over 30 years and we get reveals about what he’s been doing and why he is where he is, and Hamill does a great job of showing the mental scars the events have inflicted on the character.
We see Carrie Fisher in what was the last performance before her untimely passing, and the first time she is on screen does remind you of the sad circumstances. Once into the movie, she gives what is a powerful performance and very similar to Hamill, the wear and tear the character has been through is clear in the performance. Leia is tired in this film, having led one rebellion and now at the beginning of another she is the leader the new characters look to in the film.
Those new characters, and by new I mean the ones introduced in The Force Awakens, are played excellently across the board by Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and John Boyega. Daisy Ridley has come along a lot from the Force Awakens and she is better this time round than she was in the original, where I thought she was a little iffy at times, particularly early in the film. Oscar Isaac as Poe is perfect, he has that charisma that just makes him magnetic on screen. Boyega as Finn is given arguably the weakest plot line of the 3, but his performance is still great.
Adam Driver returns as angsty villain Kylo Ren, and he is fantastic, really portraying the conflict inside his own mind with the decisions he’s made. Andy Serkis brings gravitas to the wrinkly CGI bad guy Snoke, and even if I’m not sure this had to be a CGI character. His motion capture skills aren’t really used much, it’s more of a regular acting performance.
Among the negatives for me, aside from Finn’s slightly weaker and at times out of place storyline, was Domnall Gleeson as General Huxx. He commits to the character 1000%, but at times he is just too over the top. The film does make fun of this, but it just didn’t work for me when he’s supposed to be an imposing figure. I just don’t believe he’d have got to the position he’s in based on the way the character is in the film.
I find it very hard to think of this film without my fandom knowledge of the universe of star wars coming into it. As a huge fan of the franchise, this film is an absolute thrill ride. To someone who isn’t a big fan it may seem like there are a few moments that don’t fully add up. However to me every big moment paid off in a huge way.
Director Rian Johnson has somehow delivered on the potential we saw in trailers. He takes characters we know and love, and develops them and challenges your expectations. On top of this excellent character building is some astounding action, featuring an amazing space battle, a lightsaber fight that will live long in fans memories, and a moment that is so cinematically beautiful I wish I could capture the 3 or 4 seconds of it and frame it, you’ll know it when you see it.
Star Wars The Last Jedi is a powerful, character driven story that is surrounded by the pomp and fanfare we’ve come to expect from Star Wars films. It’s a franchise unlike any other, and this is a film that boldly steps out from the expected pattern and takes Star Wars into unknown places. Coming out of Episode 7, I had a decent idea where the next episode would pick up, and I was right. This time, coming out of Episode 8 having seen it twice already, I have no idea what to expect next, and I can’t help but be excited about that.
Good for: Every Star Wars fan will get something from this. The bold choices may not work for some, but for me this is a brilliant star wars film.
Bad for: The crazy few who don’t like the franchise. Seriously how can you not enjoy Star Wars. Mad people.
Verdict – 8/10 – Up there with the best Star Wars had to offer.