After the blast of the opening bars of John Williams’ score and those unmistakable yellow titles crawling against a backdrop of stars, director Rian Johnson goes in all blasters blazing, dropping us smack dab in the middle of an intergalactic space battle.
Star Wars: Episode VIII –The Last Jedi picks up where Episode VII –The Force Awakens left off: the First Order reigns supreme, the Resistance is in peril, and outer space is in political turmoil.
On one side, we have a ragtag group of scrappy misfits led by General Leia (the late Carrie Fisher) and on the Dark Side we have Supreme Leader Snoke backed up by superior firepower and an army of slick Stormtroopers. The angst of Snoke’s apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has reached an all-time high, as indicated by his dashing new facial scar.
Meanwhile, Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), has tracked down legendary hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and interrupted his blissful, solitary existence on a secluded space island in an attempt to drag him out of Jedi retirement before it’s too late.
If The Force Awakens was about getting Star Wars back on its feet after George Lucas lost the plot, Episode VIII is about returning to its roots. In the previous instalment, director J.J. Abrams recreated the mood, wit, and tempo of the original trilogy with astounding accuracy.
Johnson similarly balances new and nostalgic elements: Walkers roam the snowy terrain of a new planet; Luke Skywalker lives amongst the trees surrounded by adorable (new) creatures; the Millennium Falcon rides again.
But Johnson outstrips J.J. Abrams’ slapstick pace while returning to the space opera’s overarching theme – bringing balance to the Force, the ultimate fight between good and evil. This is attained through vigorous character development against a cosmic backdrop of laser cannons and starships exploding with increasing frequency.
And what a backdrop it is. The film is exquisitely shot, featuring plenty of stunning frames. Like Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Johnson finds beauty in every corner of the vast universe, from the Stormtrooper’s formations to the landscape of a mineral planet.
The characters themselves ricochet off each other throughout the film which is packed with twists, turns, and surprise attacks. John Boyega returns as the intrepid Finn. Carrie Fisher’s commanding screen presence makes her final performance as General (formerly Princess) Leia especially poignant and Mark Hamill does not disappoint with his return as the reluctant Skywalker.
Similarly, Adam Driver lives up to the standard he set in The Force Awakens with his portrayal of Kylo Ren as a multifaceted man-child whose temper tantrums were literally ridiculous the first time around but now, in the political climate of 2017, are slightly more recognisable.
We had great expectations for Rian Johnson’s contributions to everyone’s favourite galaxy far, far away, and he goes above and beyond the call of duty to deliver what will surely go down in cinematic history as one of the greatest Star Wars instalments to date.
|What||Star Wars: The Last Jedi film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
14 Dec 17 – 14 Dec 18, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more information|