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Film/TV Star Wars

Published on December 14th, 2017 | by voxx

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Star Wars – The Last Jedi

Out: Now
Cert: 12A
Length: 152 minutes
Rating: 4/5

Director: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson

Plot: Rey (Ridley) develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of her teacher, Luke Skywalker (Hamill), who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. They join forces with Leia (Fisher), Finn (Boyega) and Poe (Isaac) to unlock the mysteries of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle against the First Order.

Questions were asked after the 2 hour 16 minute runtime of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. “What’s happened to Luke Skywalker?” “Why did he disappear?” were just a couple of the seemingly millions of questions coming from fans as they walked out of the cinema. For a while it seemed like these questions were never going to be answered, or perhaps not receive a clear enough answer anyway. After a two year wait you can finally get those answers you were looking for. Hello writer-director Rian Johnson, a director with a clear insight, some brass balls and a camera in hand that creates one of the best ‘Star Wars’ films to date. Gift wrapping it with a bold, dark, often heartbreaking, moving and tense touch, it’s certainly the film that fans of the saga have been waiting for and it definitely couldn’t be timelier.

After ‘The Force Awakens’ ended with Rey (Ridley) handing an elderly Luke Skywalker (Hamill) that lightsaber (that moment here is a throwaway, literally), Johnson decides to take an entirely different approach to the traditional ‘Star Wars’ starter. He opens in space, obviously, with an attack on a rebel base (that’s enough of that). He slowly introduces us to main characters Poe Dameron (Isaac, rewarded here with a longer screen-time and a brilliant performance), General Leia (Fisher, taking command of the rebel base and getting more than just a cameo), Rey (stranded on a lonely planet), and with her of course, Luke (he just wants to be left alone). Further mention goes to a stronger Finn (Boyega), who shares incredible chemistry with engineer Rose (a fantastic Kelly Marie Tran). On the Dark Side; there’s a promising return of Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, showing to be beyond that angsty child-like behavior which dawned on his performance the first time around, and joined by his trusty right-hand man, General Hux (Gleeson, not shouting as much). They come complete with their adviser, Supreme Leader Snoke (Serkis looking much more intimidating in person). So as you can see Episode VIII is fairly packed with characters, but at a whopping 152 minutes they each get their fair share of the screen, with Johnson not leaving anything amiss.

The film’s predecessor was entirely Han Solo’s movie until it ended after a horrible fate, which still brings a lump to our throats. This time round the stage belongs to Luke, whom at first wants to be left in peace but is soon changed by a persistent Rey, and thankfully through every moment Hamill is on screen he delivers with his best performance in years. It truly is a gift of a role he’s been given here, and it shows that even after two more years out of the Jedi limelight the role still fits him like a glove. Of course you have to credit Johnson too. After working with Bruce Willis on his previous sci-fi venture, Looper, he clearly knows how to handle older actors.

Though Johnson doesn’t just deserve that credit. He makes ‘The Last Jedi’ a purely cinematic pleasure; his ability to bring every scene to life with colour and the angles he reaches are way further than previous entries. He’s not afraid to introduce new techniques to the saga, yet as a writer he’s clever at showing a clear understanding of the typical ‘Star Wars’ dialogue. Previously, J.J. Abrams, along with several other writers, would add a little humour on the side. Here, Johnson’s techniques at writing are a little slapdash with the addition of a little more humour, though when it’s serious it’s bolder, darker and more heartbreaking than the previous time round. As a director he’s truly daring as he explores different camera techniques. Abrams would use techniques where he made the villains look more menacing than they were, and often it would work. Johnson scraps that procedure and creates his own angles. He gets in close to the lightsaber action…a close-up of Ren’s fiery lightsaber, and a brutal lightsaber kill are things never seen in a ‘Star Wars’ film before.

The force isn’t fully strong with ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’. In the middle section when the film takes a break from the action the story meanders and sadly suffers from this, but thankfully it is saved by Finn and Rose’s incredible chemistry. And Johnson clearly knows what he’s doing here as he makes Episode VIII a fitting addition to the nine film saga, showing daring techniques and an incredible hand in writing. It’s definitely a match for the fans and one that shouldn’t go amiss. And finally, it shows as a fitting memorial piece to Carrie Fisher.

VERDICT: Episode VIII is a dark, earnest, often fun and sometimes heartbreaking addition to the ‘Star Wars’ saga, one that measures well in the eyes of fans and certainly one that shouldn’t be missed.

- By Corey Denford


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