Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Kelly Marie Tran
Runtime: 2h 32min
I’m going to throw this out there to begin with: The Last Jedi was not what I was hoping for out of this story. After The Force Awakens, I was extremely excited at the prospects of what would happen in the next film. With that out of the way, I understand as well that this story could all be a ruse and the real revelations will be in the third and final installation of this trilogy. If that does end up being the case, I will go back and correct this review as necessary. Until then, this was a good, but not great follow up that has several problems outside of my own personal bias.
The most unfortunate being that it is simply too long and sluggish to justify being the longest Star Wars film to date. They could have cut out the entire casino subplot and the film would have been better off for it. I also have read other people say the climax happens and then we get another 40 minutes of film, which I also agree with. Director Rian Johnson has gone on record to say the first cut of this film was over 3 hours. I can’t imagine what they cut out, but it couldn’t have been worthwhile.
One other minor complaint I have that is probably pointless to mention, but nonetheless bothered me, was the decision to go back to the puppet Yoda. The use of the puppet Yoda in The Last Jedi was laughable. But ultimately this doesn’t hurt the film as much as it does just make me wonder why they made this decision.
Many people have discussed the new style of humour not fitting Star Wars, and I couldn’t agree more. At parts the humour of this film was a pain-in-the-ass. I mean seriously? An epic style fighting sequence is about to happen, when Luke and Kylo are giving smirks, grins & eye-twitching! I simply couldn’t digest it. Though watching Luke fool Kylo Ren towards the end of the film was hilarious and another highlight.
Now that I have gotten my complaints out of the way, let me say that this film has one of the best scenes one can hope for. The scene with Kylo Ren and Rey fighting together after Snoke gets cut in half got my blood pumping and I thought it was brilliant. Absolutely the highlight of this film and the new trilogy so far. The action is fast, relentless and plentiful in this film. The performances are also quite good by the main cast throughout. I find Kylo Ren to be a very fascinating character and one of my favourites of this new trilogy. I always tend to gravitate towards villains rather than heroes, but Kylo Ren has a little of both in him (I prefer to call him antagonist) and I like the juggling act they have continued with his development and Adam Driver’s impressive performance nails it. I look forward to seeing how they finish this part of the story.
What especially caught my attention is the heavy Kurosawa influence. The influence of Akira Kurosawa is refashioned into graphically bold throne room and battle scenes, Rashomon inspired flashbacks, a a spectacular samurai-stylen light saber melee, red backdrops, and images dripping of rain, sparks, and fog (remember Macbeth?) Another notable reference is the Tarantino connection. Right from the very beginning, that pseudo-punk attitude, throw-it-in-your face dialogues and over-the-top settings reminded me of Tarantino. The film balanced these two aspects remarkably well. The vibrant use of colour, terrific cinematography and believable use of special effects deserves special mention too.
Ultimately, I found more positives than negatives in my first viewing of The Last Jedi. I think the director change hurt more than anything as Rian Johnson completely threw away the story they had and started his own version when he took over from J.J. Abrams. Luckily, Abrams is coming back for the final film and I have full faith in his abilities.