It's December 2017 and time for us to finally see the big release that many of us have been waiting to see for the last two years. I am of course talking about Episode VIII - Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This is also the long awaited return of Luke Skywalker.
The last time Mark Hamill's Skywalker was seen on screen was back in 2015 at the end of The Force Awakens (Episode VII) while standing on a cliff side on a secluded island in front of Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she attempts to reunite the Jedi master with his infamous blue lightsaber.
The Last Jedi picks up right from where the Force Awakens ends.
General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and the rest of The Resistance continue their fight against The First Order which is commanded by the Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). The Resistance's best pilot, Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac), leads a a risky but effective mission to destroy the Dreadnaught - an empire ship loaded with heavy artillery. Meanwhile Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found her way on to the uncharted island of Ahch-To to try to convince a depressed and hermit like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to return to his sister and the resistance to save the galaxy from Snoke and a conflicted Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) after he had murdered his father Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and continues to cause heartache for mother Leia.
Firstly for those of you feeling anxious, this is a no spoiler review. Maybe some small parts of the plot are mentioned but no big spoilers. Is The Last Jedi the greatest Star Wars release yet? Maybe not, but it is definitely in my top three. I loved the Force Awakens, but unfortunately I wasn't too impressed with Rogue One (yes I know it's a spin off). Despite believing Felicity Jones was the best casting choice for the role of Jyn Erso. So episode VIII really had to be good for me. It did not disappoint. Director and writer Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom and Looper), was the man in charge of The Last Jedi. He did an amazing job! This film, in my opinion is so totally different from any other film within the Star Wars franchise. If you love the typical Star Wars traits such as space battles with tie fighters and X-wings, the intense emotion from lightsaber duels and some interesting wildlife then you will love The Last Jedi.
As I've mentioned the wildlife, I have to talk about the ones in this feature. Even if you haven't yet seen the film I'm sure you will have seen Porgs everywhere. In social media, plush toys in shops, on clothing and more. "Porgs are native to Ahch-To, and can be found dwelling along the cliffs of the island where Luke and Rey are. In many ways, they’re the Star Wars version of puffins. They build nests. They can fly. Their babies are called porglets."-www.starwars.com. So incase you weren't aware of what a Porg is, now you know. To be honest the little puffin like birds aren't overly important to the story, but they do add the cute factor and introduce some comedy as they seem to be nothing but an annoyance to poor Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). The second new critter I will briefly discuss are the visually stunning crystal arctic foxes that are seen towards the end of the movie as "they inhabit the "mineral-rich world of Crait" -https://www.altpress.com/news/entry/star_wars_the_last_jedi_new_creature_vulptex
The crystal foxes are actually identified as Vulpex and they are slightly more relevant to the character's story compared to the Porgs.
Of course the film sees the return of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac), General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) BB-8 and more. In this installment director and writer Rian Johnson has also introduced new characters including quirky resistance engineer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), Leia's second in command, lilac haired Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) and DJ (Benicio Del Toro), a well known scoundrel to many across the galaxy.
So lets briefly discuss the plot lines without revealing the rather large spoilers. The Force Awakens left us asking a lot of questions. Some of them are answered in The Last Jedi.
Does Luke (Hamill) accept his old lightsaber from Rey?
Without spoiling the answer to that question I will use a quote from master Skywalker himself "This is not going to go the way you think!" There's not much more I can tell you other than that regarding the passing of the baton.
Does Rey find out who her parents are?
Rey is shown in a rather trippy scene after asking 'the force' who her parents are. I won't go into it too much as it will ruin the suspense for you all. This was a very different thing to see in a Star Wars film but it did work. Also through a psychic connection (slight little spoiler) with Kylo Ren (Driver), Rey (Ridley) does eventually find out who her parents are, even though deep down she's always known the origin of her lineage. Some people I have spoken to don't agree with the outcome and believe it's a cover up for the real reveal, but I will allow you to make up your own mind and form your own opinions on that one.
Lets go further into a discussion about Rey and Kylo/Ben's phsycic connection. Which actually brings up more questions in itself. Why or how are they connected? Are they related like Leia and Luke? Will Kylo Ren convince Rey to turn to the dark side? Will Rey be able to find the good in Kylo Ren and convince him to return to the light side? Some of them are answered later on in the film. So thats something to look out for. But the connection between the two characters does reel you in. I thought it was one of the best points within the feature.
Adam Driver is remarkably brilliant in this film. I was not impressed with Kylo Ren/Ben Solo at all in The Force Awakens as he was full of impatient toddler like tantrums and not much else. I thought for a Sith he was a very weak character. He totally turned me into a Kylo Ren fan this time around. He really stood out. Not only is he physically and emotionally scarred, it is abundantly clear that he is still feeling very conflicted about his actions after murdering his father Han Solo (Harrison Ford) so the emotions that he portrays are really intriguing to watch. The only thing that I thought where his character was ruined was a scene depicting a shirtless Kylo Ren. It really wasn't necessary at all and probably was just an attempt to add the 'sexy' factor to the film, especially after the interest of Princess Leia's slave costume in Return of the Jedi.
In continuation, for now I'll stay with the characters of The First order. Episode VIII sees the return of the fair skinned, fiery haired General Armitage Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). With his raspy and impatient tone, he remains at Kylo Ren's side working under the orders of the Supreme Leader Snoke (Serkis). As a General of the First Order, Hux is the man responsible for the many attempts to eliminate The Resistance. It was great to see more of Gleeson's on edge character in this film. Not only that he also provided us with a lot of quick witted comments bringing a sense of humour to the role too. Something we wouldn't necessarily expect to see coming from a vengeful straight faced First Order General. This is mostly seen within the first few moments within the film as there is a little on screen banter between Poe (Issac) and Hux as they converse via a communication call.
Now the next character I will mention is one that I was looking forward to seeing as they definitely weren't included enough in The Force Awakens. That character is the chrome covered Captain Phasma. Captain Phasma is a female storm trooper portrayed by actress Gwendoline Christie, who has previously been seen on our television screens as Brienne of Tarth in the hugely popular series Game of Thrones. Captain Phasma products and write ups were everywhere when Christie was initially cast. Her mannerisms are very similar to her Game of Thrones counterpart, except Phasma is a bit of a cold hearted bitch. So I and I'm sure that many others had expected great things from this character. But she was completely under used in The Force Awakens and unfortunately her role in the Last Jedi was no different. We still saw very little of her on screen and when we did it was usually momentarily with simple one liners - Mostly insults such as "rebel scum!" aimed at former storm trooper turned Resistance hero, Finn (John Boyega). She really could have added so much more to the story. But sadly no. Maybe it was due to the actress' busy work schedule while continuing to work on Game of Thrones and other recent projects for the BBC. We may never know.
I can't really move on from The First Order until I have mentioned the main villain of the film. The Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Not much is given away regarding his background story. Leaving us with possibly more questions. Although we do get to see him in his physical form this time around compared to usually seeing him as a hologram previously. Although very intimidating and clearly harnessing great power, we see very little of the 'big bad villain'. He is only seen in his what i call throne room. A large spacious room with blood red walls, containing a chair for the unsightly villain while he is surrounded by his guards, all in red.
That's The First order discussed and done. I won't go into too much detail about characters that I haven't yet included in the review, if I do it's likely that I will end up ruining the mystery of the film.
As many of you have seen in the trailers for the film, Finn (Boyega) is no longer at Rey's (Ridley) side. He has found a new partner in Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) when it comes to working on their own mission in an attempt to help save their friends lives. The pair work have great on screen chemistry and together they come to explore the planet Canto Bight which is basically the Las Vegas of the Star Wars universe. Tran's character is a very likeable one, she makes a great asset to the cast line up.
Lastly when talking about individual characters I have to include of course our main heroes. Rey, Luke and Leia. As we already know from the trailers, Rey is in training with Luke so he is able to teach her the ways of the force. Rey begs for Luke's help as she explains "I need someone to show me my place in all of this" as she is already aware of her potential. The relationship between the two characters is somewhat rocky to begin with but it does develop more as the film continues.
I was so pleased to see not only the return of Luke to the big screen, but Hamill too. I think he is one of those actors that is so diverse and unique, he's just brilliant. Hamill completely dominated the majority of the story in The Last Jedi. It's something that fans have been desperate to see for years. Not only does he deliver the most dramatic and emotional performance in the film but he also wins the award for probably the most humorous moments too. Also once again we saw an amazing performance from Daisy Ridley as Rey. She just keeps getting better and better.
Unfortunately the film was overshadowed by the fact that the world lost a true cinematic icon back in December 2016. The one and only Carrie Fisher. Thankfully she had finished filming her scenes for Episode VIII before her passing, so this gave us the opportunity to see our Princess and ballsy heroine one last time. She gave a very strong performance as Leia and it is sure to be one that will never be forgotten. The film certainly gave Princess Leia the ending that she deserved and it really was a beautiful tribute to Fisher. Within the end credits there is also a touching dedication to the actress which simply wrote "In loving memory of our princess. CARRIE FISHER". Carrie you will forever be our princess. "May the force be with you always."
With stunning visual effects, an amazing cast, interesting characters, plot twists and a completely new take on a Star Wars adventure, Rian Johnson absolutely nailed it. Even though I felt like aspects of the film could have made room for a little improvement, it does not take away the fact that I have just watched a fantastic cinematic release and I definitely have every intention on seeing it again. Whether you love Star Wars or not you will absolutely love this film.