If there was a book that was written to cover all the things one should expect from a Star Wars movie, it’d be safe to say that Rian Johnson either: a) ripped it up, 2) set it on fire, or 3) just plainly ignored it. This is the best way I can describe Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it did things that shouldn’t have happened following the nostalgia tinged Force Awakens. This review will try to be as spoiler free as possible.
An opening moment with Luke Skywalker sets the tone of the film. A closing shot that sets up what’s to come and what Star Wars means to people. Shots of striking beauty and composition. There are moments of sheer awe. There is more than one shot in the film that grasps hold of you and doesn’t let you go.
This isn’t hyperbole.
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There is something special about Star Wars: The Last Jedi and what Rian Johnson has managed to achieve. For me he has touched on themes and ideas that were only touched on in the (now abandoned) Expanded Universe. If you wanted more Force, you got it. If any of these “moments” were in done in the same way in any other series, they’d be laughable. But it’s Star Wars, there’s a mythology to be delved into.
All the cast are excellent. There is more Poe Dameron, who is one of the most upbeat and optimistic characters of modern times; a character that when played by Oscar Isaac is someone you want to fight with, that you want to win. John Boyega and Daisy Ridley expand on Finn ad Rey in a way which is totally in keeping with what we saw in the film before. Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux is a much improved character here than in Force Awakens.
Mark Hamill seems to be enjoying becoming Luke Skywalker again, a role which started off as an idealistic boy with dreams of the Rebellion, now bitter, hurt, broken. The late Carrie Fisher embodies Leia Organa; she is still as driven, stubborn and fierce as she was when we first saw her.
Special mention to Benicio del Toro and Laura Dern, with somewhat limited roles. But they get their moments which justify them being on the screen. The only little quibble with characters is Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christine) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), but like I said before, there was a book and Rian Johnson tore it to shreds.
What has to be brought forward is Adam Driver as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico. Adam Driver wears the face of someone who has been beaten down, who is conflicted, who is angry, simmers with rage, yet is longing for something else. A truly fantastic character. On the other end of the scale Kelly Marie Tran as Rose is someone who is perfect for the Rebellion. What she does, what she says, what she believes, she IS the Rebellion. For someone who has been in minimal film and some TV roles, she is a talent to watch.
There are many, many cameos, and nods to various points in the series that no doubt will be picked apart in the weeks to come.
Without going into detail, The Last Jedi is a Star Wars film that for the first time in a long time belongs in the lore of the world George Lucas created back in 1977. Rian Johnson has carved a path into Star Wars that we will feel the ramifications of for years to come.