Film Review: Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi – 8.5/10

“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be…’

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In some ways, JJ Abrams had it easy with The Force Awakens. Armed with the sheer power of reuniting the most iconic on screen characters ever, not just with each other but with an adoring audience, meant that he couldn’t really miss. That being said, Abrams did have to do all the heavy lifting in terms of setting the scene and introducing a whole new set of characters. The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson didn’t have the luxury of a heart made fond by absence. He would stand and fall on getting everything else right. He mostly succeeds…

Lets not waste time on plot. The resistance do battle with the First Order. Done. Instead, let us delve into all the things that Johnson gets right. Firstly, and perhaps most critically, the character development for the new guard is flawless. Rey goes from being a pretty bland character in The Force Awakens to one of the most crucial players here and she is fleshed out beautifully. Poe Dameron was always going to be the next Han Solo, all it took was a little more screen time. Kylo Ren though… he is the one. To be totally honest I loved Ren from the moment I set eyes on him. There is so much going on behind that peculiar mask and Adam Driver plays him perfectly. As much as I love Han, Luke and Leia, the future is in good hands with Rey and her fellow rebels.

Secondly, there are some truly epic battle sequences in The Last Jedi. The whole thing zips by at astonishing pace, so much so that I am still finding it difficult to process everything. The Force Awakens was so recognisable, so familiar as a Star Wars film that it all made sense pretty quickly. The Last Jedi then is the moment where the third part of this epic saga really achieves an identity for itself.

Not everything here is perfect however. Star Wars has always trod the line between sci-fi and toy commercial and it perhaps strays beyond that marker a little at times here. Also, and I’m going to mention an incredibly mild spoiler here, you can only call on a Deus Ex Machina a couple of times before the audience starts to feel a little cheated. Again, Rian Johnson comes uncomfortably close to crossing that boundary.

Overall there is a lot to enjoy about The Last Jedi. There are some genuinely franchise defining moments and some other scenes that are head-scratchers. I am happy to concede that right now I would put it on par with The Force Awakens. I need a little more time to think it over though…