Today: July 22, 2024

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

If The Force Awakens was a reboot of A New Hope in the Star Wars cannon then The Last Jedi is, both in theory and in practice, this new series’ Empire Strikes Back. Rest assured Star Wars fans, Empire remains the best Star Wars film but with The Force Awakens proving there is still a healthy appetite for the franchise that revolutionised blockbusters does The Last Jedi live up to its predecessors hype?

So in Empire you had the rebellion on the run from the villains. Same with The Last Jedi. A Jedi in training? Check. A darker tone? Just about check. One of the greatest twists in cinematic history? Nice try, our lips are sealed. No spoilers here. In other words, barring the last point, The Last Jedi is still very much emulating the previous films from a plot point of view. And while that is a good thing there are one or two missteps here that, worryingly, see it vere into the realms of the dreaded prequels.

The rebels, led by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher in her final screen appearance) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) narrowly evading The First Order, led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the dastardly Snoke (Andy Serkis). Meanwhile Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who wants nothing to do with being a Jedi and especially training a new generation of lightsaber wielders.

When The Last Jedi works it really works. And it works when it is striving and happy to conform to what you expect from Star Wars. Fist pumping set pieces, perfectly timed comedic asides and emotional drama that has you genuinely invested. From Poe and Leia’s tough as nails banter, BB-8’s hijinxs, Rey’s beating heart of this new franchise and Luke and Kylo’s tortured souls, these are the moments you yearn for and writer director Rian Johnson perfectly delivers.

The only glitch is when trying to find a decent storyline for The Force Awakens’ secret weapon John Boyega as Finn. He’s still the loveable character from that film but his plot feels fairly circumstantial. What is more a key part of said plot sees him travel to a casino planet which feels horribly like something from Attack Of The Clones. It’s here that Johnson falters, albeit briefly, by taking us to a CGI infused world which feels removed from the overall tone, look and thrill of the main film.

Thankfully said detour is fleeting and the final act is one of vast and endless enjoyment. From frenetic and beautifully choreographed lightsaber duels to epic, rabble rousing battles set against stunning locations and jaw dropping visuals. In fact, so good is the final act you forget that for too long we watched Rey and Luke ignore each other on a remote island. Instead you are swept away by John Williams’ epic score that has you giddy with excitement at what might become of our plucky rebels. So satisfying is this second film that it manages to set up a grandstand finale in the concluding third film so tantalising you wonder, hope, pray it is able to do everything it has accomplished thus far justice.

That flutter in your chest during Star Wars The Last Jedi is your inner child reminding you that no matter how old you get, how cynical you get, Star Wars is, like The Force, with you, now and always.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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