STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI gets 8/10 Rebel rebel!

Directed by Rian Johnson
Starring Daisy Rider, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill

8/10

It’s that time of year when people eagerly line up, full of wonder and excitement. All thanks to a stout, white bearded fellow… George Lucas. His creation has amazed fans since 1977 (even if we did have a few painful years due to the prequels), and with that torch being picked up by Disney, it is likely to continue to do so till we experience the eventual heat death of the universe.

Two years back Star Wars: The Force Awakens continued that saga into the next generation of Skywalkers. It did this by cleaving closely to the touchstone of the original trilogy. You know the saying, something old, something new, something borrowed, and something Blue Harvest… well in this case A New Hope, which The Force Awakens borrowed heavily from in terms of plot, and action beats. Although a number of fans did complain about it’s lack of originality, it did manage to correct course from the mess of the Clone War trilogy, and establish itself clearly in line with the original film. For its sequel however, the question is, does Star Wars: The Last Jedi have the midichlorians to make itself something special, or will it just be a clone (trooper) of The Empire Strikes Back?

As The First Order consolidates its power, The Resistance finds itself on the back foot. Fleeing from their destroyed base they are pursued by The First Order fleet, and find themselves barely able to outrun the superior force, and running low on fuel. While Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and a rebel technician called Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) try and work out a way to escape the First Order Star Destroyers, Rey (Daisy Rider) tries to convince a reluctant Luke (Mark Hamill) to return to The Resistance. A task that is not helped as Rey starts to share thoughts with the conflicted Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

So back to that nagging question, is The Last Jedi just a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back? No… from a certain point of view. It shares many of Episode V’s characteristics with its themes of resistance, training, and sacrifice. It also mirrors a number of sequences from both The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, but it always puts a significant twist on these, using our own expectations to mislead us as to which direction the plot will go. The Last Jedi frequently surprises us, jinking like the Millennium Falcon in an asteroid field, to end up somewhere unexpected. As Luke says, “this is not going to go the way you think”.

What we are given is a tale of battle and desperation, as we learn more about the events that lead Luke to abandon the Resistance, as well more background on both Rey and Kylo Ren. In answering many of those questions that The Force Awakens raised, we are also given some major turning points for the trilogy, that should make the final film something entirely different from what has come before. It must also be said that despite the darkness of the themes covered, there is also an amazing humour at play here, bringing some great comedic moments that allow for a tonal balance of light and shade in amongst the spectacle.

Ridley, Isaac, and Boyega maintain the wonderful chemistry established in the previous film, even if the trio spends much of its time apart, but it is the older cast that really stand out here. Hamill is phenomenal as the sour and disillusioned Luke, and it is bittersweet seeing Fisher in her final performance knowing that there is not more to come.

The Last Jedi delivers all you could want from Star Wars as a series, forging further with the tale of The Resistance against The First Order, and leaves you yearning to see what will follow.

DAVID O’CONNELL

 

 

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