Twelve years since his impressive indie noir debut, Brick, Rian Johnson is now the man in the chair behind the second entry in the new Star Wars trilogy. Star Wars: The Last Jedi follows on almost immediately from where J.J.Abram’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens left us two years ago. The highly anticipated second instalment reintroduces us to the ongoing struggle of the rebels, lead by General Leia Organa. As our beloved heroine continues to forge forward with the daunting task of bringing down The First Order, Rey, the film’s central heroin, is finally in the presence of a tortured and unwelcoming Luke Skywalker, desperate for the legendary Jedi to train her in the ways of the force. Star Wars: The Last Jedi continues to build on the impressive re-envisioning of Lucas’ beloved world and upon a handful of the charismatic individuals it centres around, from icons such as Luke and Leia to the fresher additions of John Boyega’s Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe. At 150 minutes, Johnson’s venture is expertly paced and maintains a clear and confident vision of where it wants to go and where it wants to end up. Long in length but strong in its intention, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is certainly a satisfying follow up to a film that reignited my childhood infatuation with episodes four to six. Not without its flaws, this is a film with evident issues within its occasionally stale script and which doesn’t always adequately judge or time its humour. That said, there is so much to like about this highly anticipated return to a new franchise which continues to fade any painful memories of the relatively soulless prequels. Star Wars: The Last Jedi might not have engrossed me as much as I’d hoped but it’s most definitely brimming with character and sincerity.
This is very much Hamill’s film – who seems very comfortable and content to be back in Luke’s shoes, after several decades. Hamill captures the same whiny manner we have come to recognise in a younger Skywalker but also brings to Luke a dark inner turmoil and resentment for what has gone before. Hamill’s bristly depiction of the Jedi master and myth is counteracted by Daisy Ridley’s defiance as keen and dedicated Rey – struggling with the isolation her connection to the force is causing her. There are some lovely additions to the cast here with the likes of Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro and a charming breakout performance from Kelly Marie Tran. Adam Driver builds on the foundations of the conflicted, monstrous Kylo Ren and develops him into an even more complex villain. With so many characters proving so vital to the film’s narrative it’s impressive just how well all are juggled and balanced. Sadly, I found the film’s aesthetic to be lacking in the authentic, with what appeared to be some particularly cheap uses of green screen. When your film sounds this good and moves so well it’s even more obvious when the aesthetic doesn’t always match. I fear this may ultimately have distanced me from ever truly investing myself in the story and its many creative elements. Many of Leia’s scenes are made perhaps unintentionally emotional with the one year anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s death almost here but the loss still feeling incredibly fresh. Regardless, Fisher remains a captivating presence throughout, as dedicated as Hamill to not just her character but an iconic cinematic Princess. With its ongoing respect and references to the original trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi bridges the gap beautifully between what’s gone before and what is yet to come. Despite some troubling CGI and dialogue, it remains ultimately triumphant and earns its rightful place amongst the best films within the galactic canon.
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