Star Wars: The Last Jedi (PG-13)
Staring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
Release date: December 15, 2017
Runtime: 152 minutes
With the comic book movie arms race between Marvel and DC increasing exponentially year by year – five this year and even more scheduled for 2018 – Event cinema is starting to feel like less of an event.
The Force Awakens arrived with salivating anticipation that can’t be replicated– the first time we have seen the original characters since the apparent swansong of 1983’s Return of the Jedi was always going to create a buzz that would be impossible to replicate. However, with Rogue One, a Han Solo spin-off, Boba Fett (or bounty hunter movie) and Kenobi looking likely as well as the third part of this trilogy already arrived or incoming, The Last Jedi seems to have arrived with its tracking beacon disabled.
The Force Awakens, while entertaining, was a shameless nostalgia grab of “member berries” designed to steady the ship back into the green and distance itself from the stink of the prequel trilogy. To borrow from the other space opera, logic would dictate that The Last Jedi would be this series’ Empire Strikes Back. Instead, it veers wildly away and forges its own path and is a much better film for doing so.
It’s also really funny. The opening scene where a sneering General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is having his evil monologue undercut by bad connection before launching into a full-scale attack highlights everything that was missing from the prequels.
Considering the new series seems to revolve around her storyline, Daisy Ridley’s Rey feels underserved her, bursting into tears so often I was worried she may be hospitalised with dehydration before the film ended.
Highlights in the movie include new addition Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico is a damaged character whose loss during the rebellion has added a steely reserve to her innocent features and the interactions with Hux and Kylo Ren are fantastic, bickering with each other like two attention-starved children while the fate of the galaxy is in the balance.
Scenes that should have no business working (a flying in space moment in particular) somehow don’t draw groans thanks in part to the goodwill the cast have built up. But also by director Rian Johnson offering something that as Luke says “is not going to go the way you think” he has added so much to the Star Wars mythology.
Johnson has made new characters iconic and has added character to icons and, seaking of icons, the film belongs to Mark Hamill as it’s undoubtedly his best ever performance.
Here his haunted, hollow eyes give way to awe and fear when he begins to see the scale of Rey’s power. This is the first time I have truly appreciated how good an actor he is, his most famous role here both a blessing and a curse, with the ghost of performances we have missed out on because he was too recognisable as the Jedi master lingering.
The Last Jedi is a throwback to when event cinema was big and exciting and more importantly, delivered.
4 out of 5
Words - Andy McCarroll @andymc1983