It’s the movie everyone has been anticipating for the last couple of years since Episode VII. Sure, we had Rogue One hit cinemas last year, but we all eagerly anticipated what was next in store for newcomers Rey, Finn, BB-8 and pals. However, The Last Jedi is a new chapter that has ultimately divided opinion. Has the hype lived up to it’s multi-billion franchise name?
(I’m writing this review a few weeks after release so I can discuss my opinion on every detail, including spoilers. If you wish to avoid, I suggest you attend the nearest screening, then come straight back here!)
Okay, I’m gonna be serious now. The Last Jedi is my favourite Star Wars film of the whole franchise. Why?
Cutest. Creatures. EVER.
THEY’RE SO ADORABLE I WANT TO KEEP THEM ALL.
(Oh, and who knew Kylo worked out so much? ABS.)
Oh okay, so that wasn’t entirely serious, but I’m being honest in that I enjoyed this movie more than any other entry in the franchise. Obviously, I am a fan of the original trilogy and The Force Awakens. Rogue One I felt lack a certain something (you can read my thoughts here), and the less said about prequels, the better. But what made The Last Jedi a standout for me is the rule changing. I loved it. No one, and nothing is safe. The Resistance find themselves in real life-threatening jeopardy. Kylo Ren has doubts about the dark path he is on. Leia can use The Force. Luke has blocked himself from The Force. And then there is Rey, caught in the middle of this war, not knowing where she is headed or why The Force has seemingly chosen her. At the same time as all this new unknown territory arising, we still get to catch up with the characters we know and love: R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca… even Yoda is back for a bit!
Rey (Daisy Ridley) goes through a remarkable heartfelt journey of self-discovery over the course of the 2 hour 35 minute runtime. She finally finds hermit Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) living on the ancient Jedi birth planet of Ahch-To, who reluctantly agrees to teach her about the Jedi, and why he believes it should end. Luke is fighting an inner battle, feeling guilty for paving his nephew Ben Solo’s descent into Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the deaths that followed.
Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship unfolding through mysterious Force bond sequences was a huge highlight, and was full of chemistry between the two characters. They start to get a proper understanding of each other, and indeed realise they are both on a path of trying to find their true belonging. Rey appears to almost redeem Kylo (who Rey calls by his birth name, Ben) and convince that there is still good within him. Kylo tells her the “truth”(?) about her good-for-nothing parents. He also flat out tells her that she is special to him, and that they should make their own destiny together. Of course, that would mean Rey’s friends dying, so it’s looking like they are back on opposite sides of the war… for now. But let’s be real here – we all felt that connection between them. They had each other’s back in the fight against the “Big Bad” Supreme Leader Snoake (Andy Serkis). There’s still time for Kylo to choose good, as he showed in that said battle. Surely Kylo and Rey together would bring a balance to the galaxy? No black or white, just grey? I’m shipping Reylo and I don’t care who knows it.
I’m also loving newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and stormtrooper-turned-hero Finn (John Boyega) – what a whirlwind adventure these two had! I loved their mission to the casino city of Canto Bight alongside the ever adorable droid BB-8. In their short time together, they gained each other’s trust and respect, and accomplished some great things, such as freeing the beautiful Fathier creatures from slavery (one of quite a few subliminal messages about stopping animal cruelty planted into the film) and managing to get aboard the First Order’s command base to shut down the tracking device to allow the Resistance to escape their clutches. What is really sweet with this pair is how Rose saved Finn from commuting suicide by putting herself in grave danger. I can’t wait to see more Finn/Rose in Episode IX!
Leia’s old friend Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) also made her premiere appearance with her gorgeous lavender hair, taking over Leia’s leadership responsibilities when she is seriously hurt. The trigger-happy Poe (Oscar Issac) conflicts with her decisions to the point of mutiny aboard their own ship, but Holdo turns it around in a jaw-dropping scene like never before – Holdo sacrifices herself to allow the other rebels, including the brash Poe, to flee, by ramming her ship through the middle of Snoake’s star destroyer. You could hear a pin drop in the cinema it was so captivating. This character is not only a strong powerful woman, she is also feminine in her appearance – a bold new leap for Star Wars, who may have cast Gwendolyn Christie as the intimidating Captain Phasma in The Force Awakens, but also placed her under layers of silver genderless stormtrooper armour. Holdo is the new kind of role model we deserve to see in movies… it’s only a shame she didn’t live long enough to see the next entry in the series.
Speaking of strong female heroines, The Last Jedi was made even more special by Leia. As we all know, it has now been over a year since actress Carrie Fisher’s death, but Carrie’s presence throughout this movie is so strong. Carrie worked as a script doctor on the production, and you can tell of her input by the wit featured throughout the script and spoken by her very character. It was hard to not get emotional at Leia being reunited with Luke after so long apart, and at the tribute to “our princess” in the credits. Episode IX just won’t be the same without her.
The one thing that is blindingly clear is how different The Last Jedi is to every other movie in the Star Wars franchise. I thought that the cinematography was very cleverly shot, especially with the use of colour and the capture of expression. Directed by Rian Johnson in contrast to The Force Awakens J.J.Abrams, Rogue One Gareth Edwards and the original big boss George Lucas himself, Rian definitely made his imprint by exploring what it truly is to be a “Jedi”, and what exactly The Force is. Is it an ancient religion, an art form, a superpower that only those lucky few can possess?
The answer? Well, according to a self-imposed exiled Luke, it exists all around, everywhere in the galaxy. Is there rules? Not indefinitely, as proved by Yoda’s ghost showing up and free-spiritedly burning the ancient Jedi temple, along with it’s textbooks (one of my personal favourite humorous scenes). So, how exactly does it work? Why can Leia suddenly use The Force to save herself in the cold vacuum of space? Why does a “nobody” like Rey feel it’s calling? How can Luke project an image of himself halfway around the galaxy? And, most predominantly, how come a random orphan child shows signs of using The Force in the very last scene? None of this is answered in this movie. But guess what? I’m content that it doesn’t! The Last Jedi is only the middle section of storytelling from a trilogy. Just like any good detective tv series, you don’t find the killer halfway through the season (or if you do, you’re prepared for a huge plot twist). So, the real question is… will Episode IX end this story with a bang? Only time will tell!
Oh, and on a very final note, there was hardly any of the crystal fox-like Vulptex merchandise on the market and I’m not happy about that… and that was literally the only thing I’m not happy about with The Last Jedi! I want to own one of these cute critters in plush form!
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!