After the events of The Force Awakens, Rey has found Luke Skywalker and is hoping to be trained in the ways of the Jedi. However, she and Kylo Ren find themselves linked by the force. Meanwhile, Finn and Poe are being hunted by The First Order after an attack on the last rebel base.
Critics were mixed on the story of The Force Awakens but one can say with some certainty that the characters, Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo, have become as beloved as Luke, Leah and Han, if not more so. Now with The Last Jedi we get more of the characters. We get more conflicted Kylo, we get the great relationship between Rey and Kylo, Poe is still a hot head trigger happy fly-boy and Finn learns a great deal about the war. Each of these searches feels necessary to the overall trajectory of the story and each is tied closely to the character that they concern.
I really enjoyed the sections between Kylo and Rey, there was a good balancing act between the light and the dark with great interplay between the two characters as they begin to exchange ideas and the intrigue starts as you try to work out who will turn who. This is done with a deftness and skill that allows us a greater insight into who these characters are, where they are from and where they are going. The performances help here, with Daisy Ridley’s wide eyed optimism contrasting so well with Adam Driver’s anger and fear. Old man Luke is similarly entertaining; a curmudgeon with deep flaws and something to add to the lore of Star Wars that was fascinating. Though some fans may have thought that this was a betrayal of the character, I thought that presenting him as flawed as he is here is a wonderful piece of storytelling and Mark Hamil carries it perfectly.
I will say that despite these excellent arcs and themes in the film, they aren’t exactly handled with finesse; there are elements that are clunky and a little obvious. The main issue is with everything that doesn’t involve Rey and Kylo. This is where we come back to balance again. Finn’s arc is vital and it is interesting coming across the small players in the war between the resistance, like new character Rose, played by Kelly Marie Tran, and the First Order and those who don’t pick a side, represented by Benicio Del Toro as DJ. However, it feels tacked on and rushed like certain elements weren’t supposed to appear until episode nine because the conclusion is incredibly underwhelming and it could have been a fantastic bit of star wars story telling. Poe didn’t really do anything at all, I am not sure he changed, he didn’t go anywhere, do anything or say anything that made him seem relevant at all, he didn’t even learn a lesson. This is exclusively Rey and Kylo’s film. What there is of that is amazing, but everyone else feels a little side-lined and last minute.
Similarly, if you think too hard about the details of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, you find that the plot is rather flimsy, which ties in with my complaint about balance and Finn’s mission. When we go back to Finn and Poe the story scratches and as it changes track you can physically feal the gears turning as we go from one part of the story to another. There is also a lot of plot that perhaps needs a question to answer why it happened, you are constantly asking yourself why does this happen after watching the film, which breaks the illusion of The Last Jedi. Furthermore, you do see elements of the Empire Strikes Back in the movie, and those who found Force Awakens’ similarities to A New Hope off-putting then you might have similar struggles here.
You must take these things I have said with a grain of salt, I have spent a few days pondering Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In that time I may have over thought it and found that it was lacking in the mechanics of story and plotting. But with the characters there are also some fantastic moments: I loved DJ’s lisp and attitude, I loved the design of the mineral world at the end, the weapon dealing world, the casino and I especially loved all the reveals to the mysteries that we had in Episode Seven, where Rey is from and who is Supreme Leader Snoke. I was in awe of Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo right until the end of the film where I was left speechless by a sequence that was impeccably executed. This is a film that had me on the edge of my seat squealing and gasping like a child as I was watching it.
It may have seemed like I have been incredibly negative and that I didn’t like The Last Jedi, that could not be further from the truth. It definitely does have its problems and those become apparent the more time you have to think on them. However, as a cinematic experience, The Last Jedi is absolutely fantastic. It is filled with charm and wit and a great cast of characters. It is a film that whisked me away to a galaxy far far away for a wild ride full of twists and turns and fun. You owe it to yourself after the year that 2017 has been, to get some friends/family, some 3d glasses and have a grand old time.
You can watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi in cinemas now