It should come as absolutely no surprise from you guys that I love Star Wars. It’s actually the first film franchise I fell in love with as a writer – some might say I’ve borrowed too heavily from them. So when The Force Awakens came to the cinema, I rushed to see it – and I loved every single minute of it! Yes, I know it has it’s detractors and there are those who are quick to point out how similar it was to the first Star Wars – but for me it was an exciting space opera that reminded me why I fell in love with Star Wars in the first place.
So having just got back from the cinema and seen The Last Jedi, I now would like to give you my thoughts on it! For the record, I actually avoided seeing the trailers for it as much as possible, so as to not spoil too much from this film. Obviously I couldn’t entirely avoid them, but at least I went into this film not knowing too much, so that when things happened it was a surprise.
Just a word of warning, in my review of The Force Awakens, I tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible because I didn’t want to sour everyone’s enjoyment of it. This review is very spoiler heavy – so just be warned about that if you missed my spoiler warning.
After the events of The Force Awakens, The First Order is hunting the Alliance and closing in on them. Now able to track them through lightspeed travel and heavily decimated, the Alliance have to find a way to survive – but running might not be an option here! It’s up to Finn to try and find a way to halt the Order’s attack somehow.
Meanwhile, in a far off world, Rey has discovered Luke Skywalker, teacher of Kylo Ren – and we learn that he has hidden himself away so that the Jedi Order can finally end. He reluctantly takes Rey under his wing to teach her ways of the Force – but Rey goes on a journey of self discovery that opens up more than she bargained for.
And speaking of Kylo Ren, he continues his mission, spurred on by Supreme Commander Snoke. Full of rage (and maybe regret after he killed Han Solo – his father) Kylo Ren tries to find a way to tempt Rey over to his side.
WHAT I LIKED
The sequels of Star Wars have done a very good job of staying true to the original trilogy. And whilst some people might think they have stayed too true and rehashed stories from previous films, that’s never really bothered me. I mean come on, how many times have you seen a film with a plot almost exactly like another film you saw. There are only so many stories in the world, guys and gals! For me, this story set up some real drama. The Alliance were in a tough spot pretty much from the beginning and it became less and less obvious that they would escape. It really raised the stakes and kept you guessing how they would survive – at times it seemed like they wouldn’t!
It was great seeing the characters back from the first film. Poe and BB8 are still as charming to watch as ever, Finn is still finding his place as a hero and Rey is still trying to find her way in the Force. And of course, it’s great to see Leia back. It was quite heartbreaking seeing Leia on the screen, remembering that Carrie Fisher died in 2016 (what a HORRIBLE year for celebrity deaths that was!), but it’s good to see that, even given her ill health, she still put in 100%.
Another returning character is Luke Skywalker – which we knew would return anyway. But I don’t think anyone anticipated we’d get this version of Luke! No longer is he the heroic, idealistic Jedi hero that he was in previous films. Now he is a disillusioned, broken shell of his former self thanks to his failure of training Kylo Ren in the way of the Force. Interestingly enough, we actually get two (or even three) sides to how this happened – but it’s never really explained which one is the correct one. At first, Luke says that Kylo willingly turned to the Dark Side and he destroyed the temple they trained at, but then Kylo explains that Luke tried to kill him. When confronted by Rey, Luke admits that he did in fact try to kill Kylo after seeing the Darkness within him, but couldn’t do it. Whatever the truth is, I guess we’ll just have to make our own minds up. I would comment on the irony that Luke didn’t see any way to save Kylo from the Dark Side, when he believed Darth Vader to be redeemable (later proven to be true), but I guess I’ll put that down to him being embittered by time. Either way, it’s an interesting character development for Luke Skywalker and one that may upset long time fans of the series, but I felt was a necessary change to give Rey’s arc a bit more weight.
It was also good to see Rey progress as a character. Believing the Force to be something for the good of the Universe, she sees her beliefs tested here as she sees both sides of the Force – Light and Dark. However, she doesn’t seem to be aligned to either side at the moment, still trying to work out what she believes in. And ultimately, her belief is in her friends. This kind of acts in stark contrast to Kylo Ren, who seems to have fully given himself to the Dark Side – but maybe not for the reasons you think. Daisy Ridley once again treats us to an emotional performance that makes you remember why we fell in love with her character in the first place.
Onto my other favourite character from the film, Kylo Ren. There is a fan theory going around that Kylo Ren isn’t actually a villain, but he’s trying to destroy the Sith from the inside. And this film might give some weight to that. We all know that Kylo is full of anger and rage, supposedly brought on by Supreme Commander Snoke – but maybe he doesn’t have as much of a hold as much as he thinks he does. One of the best things from this film is the interaction between Rey and Kylo – it is a lot deeper than in The Force Awakens. In fact, you can almost see it from both of their points of view, Kylo wants to let go of the past, whereas Rey is still holding on. It’s a real Hope versus Despair battle that makes Kylo one of the most interesting characters in the Star Wars universe. It almost parallels Luke trying to bring Vader back from the Dark Side. This I thought was one of the most interesting aspects of the film and I’ll be interested in seeing how it goes.
And of course, I have to mention the absolutely amazing battle scenes! One thing I love about Star Wars is that, for the most part, they’ve been able to create absolutely spectacular battles that are full to the brim, but not so chaotic that you don’t know what’s going on. Explosions fly everywhere and Rebels and Alliance soldiers die in equal amounts. It gets really desperate at times, but even when hope sinks, they still find the strength to fight on. The story also takes some interesting twists and turns with certain characters, and even averts some classic tropes. For example, when Kylo and Rey team up to kill Lord Snoke, you might think this is Kylo doing a redemption arc. But rather than go that way, it’s revealed Kylo had his own reasons for doing it. Another example is the character Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), who you think is doing things for her own selfish needs – but actually she turns out to be just as heroic as any Alliance warrior.
Though the overall plot is pretty dark, there are moments of humour in here as well which I believe balance it out. It’s not as in your face as say, the MCU films, but it’s good to take the pressure off once in a while. Though I’ll admit, without Han Solo, it’s just not the same. :’(
So on the whole, there was a lot to love about The Last Jedi. It was tense, emotionally charged and excited to watch. Was it perfect? Well it wouldn’t be a review if I only focused on the good things, so let’s look at some of the negatives.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
For me personally, this film suffered from what I like to call Lord of the Rings syndrome – in that I wasn’t too sure they knew how to end it. There were about five different times this film could have ended and sometimes it just felt like they were dragging the story out for the sake of it. The run time at about two and a half hours can feel a little long, and maybe they could have shortened it a little bit.
I also wasn’t too fond of the character of Rose. I’ll be honest I didn’t really see the point of her character, except to be a ‘love interest’ for Finn. I’m sure others might like her, but for me I wasn’t really too invested in her. Personally I would have preferred to see more of Captain Phasma.
Speaking of which, considering Phasma was such a popular character in the last film, and the fact that most fans bemoaned her lack of appearance in The Force Awakens, you think the creators would have given her a bigger role. But no! Her role was even less in this film – and worst still, they killed her off! Not since Darth Maul have I been so annoyed at a character death in a film. I can’t the only one pissed off with this, right?
Finally, remember how fans were confused how C3PO had a red arm with no explanation. Here he’s back with a gold arm. The reason? Maybe they just fixed him up – oh I dunno. It’s just a minor point anyway – but I’m sure the Internet can explain this.
WHAT I LOVED
It was great seeing Jedi Master Yoda return in Force Ghost form! And it was the old puppet version as well, not the CGI monstrosity from the prequels. Luke and Yoda have little more than banter, but he proves to be important for Luke’s choice to help out in the end. It was a lovely little nod to the fans there.
And props to the Kylo/Luke fight – that was pretty awesome to watch, even if the end was a little bit of a cop out. But it did lead to a happy send off to another beloved character.
Whilst it doesn’t quite have the same power and emotional depth as The Empire Strikes Back, despite some reviewers claiming it to be on par with that film, The Last Jedi is a thrilling instalment into the the Star Wars saga. It sets a different tone that puts a lot of what you thought about Star Wars into a different perspective. Stunning visuals, darker tone and emotional performances from everyone involved makes this an entertaining movie to take us into the Christmas period. And we won’t have to wait long to get our Star Wars fix as next year we apparently get the Han Solo spin off film – for those of you still hurting about his death in The Force Awakens.
It’s by no means the best film of the year, but as far as Star Wars films go, this one is definitely worth your time. Go to the biggest screen you can to get the best experience! And may the Force be with you!
FINAL SCORE: 4.5/5