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[Joint Review] – ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’


Release Date: 15 December 2017 (USA)
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daisy Ridley - John Boyega - Mark Hamill - Carrie Fisher - Adam Driver

Posted December 17, 2017 by

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Lestat’s Perspective:

The greatest science-fiction film franchise returns with its eighth in-story instalment. Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been a highly anticipated entry given the success of its predecessor Star Wars: The Force Awakens. TLJ takes off immediately from where TFA ends, Rey (Ridley) is atop a cliff handing Luke Skywalker (Hamill) his lightsaber; Finn (Boyega) is still in recovery following his battle with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Poe Dameron (Isaac) are leading the Resistance against the First Order.

That’s one hell of a pilot – Poe Dameron

But, all efforts by the Resistance result in diminishing returns. Every insurgence leads to more losses, and with the First Order close on their heels, Poe, Finn and engineer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) have to come up with a secret plan to save what’s left of the good guys.

In the meantime, Rey tries her best to convince Luke to join the fight, believing him to be the last hope to defeat the darkness, but Luke is terrified by Rey’s untapped power and the past that continues to haunt him. How can all these disparate elements come together and vanquish the threat of the Dark Side for good?

The Last Jedi will leave you breathless with its outstanding cinematography. The contrasting colours in Snoke’s office is magnificent to behold, as are the fight scenes – shot as quick, clipped scenes that heighten the tension. The space battles too, are striking and memorable. Writer-director Rian Johnson suffuses many tense and dark moments with humour and laughs, which feels both at odds with Star Wars and refreshingly original.

JJ Abrams’ TFA divided many for being too reverential and not original enough, yet captured the nostalgia that most fans were looking for. TLJ, on the other hand, feels like Johnson was mandated with making an antithesis to the previous instalment. At every turn, the writer-director attempts to subvert our Star Wars-esque expectations, only to end up writing a carbon copy of the original trilogy anyway.

Johnson’s previous big budget credit includes Looper, which wouldn’t immediately recommend him to helm a franchise of this magnitude – and his inexperience shows. As a long-time Star Wars fan, I found this film boring, despite its occasional humour, spectacular cinematography and exquisite action set-pieces. The entire film felt like a conglomeration of jigsaw puzzle pieces with the pieces glued together because the matching partner couldn’t be found. Much of the film seems cyclical, replaying the same moments in different ways for different characters and only seldom resulting in different conclusions. This is not supposed to be a remake of Looper.

In an attempt to be bigger (as Hollywood believes all sequels should be), we are introduced to a host of new characters, or characters with bigger roles – Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis in mo-cap), Rose, Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), Benicio Del Toro’s Lando Calrissian knock-off, most of whose roles could and should have been occupied by the existing cast. I am guessing Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie’s scheduling conflicts led to their severely curtailed on-screen time, but why did Johnson give so little screen time to everyone else?

Epic stare-down – Rose and Finn

There are too many arcs and storylines to follow – Rey’s training, Luke’s recent history, Rey and Kylo’s connection, General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo’s enmity, Finn and Rose’s mission to find the Master Codebreaker, Poe being un-Poe like to Holdo – it’s a lot to pack in one film, even when it’s the longest entry of the entire franchise. By breaking up the main cast into so many fragments the film loses cohesion, tension and, most importantly, heart. We don’t get to see these characters build on the relationships they created in TFA; instead, most of them are forming new relationships, the majority of which aren’t fully explored or fleshed out, which detracts from the point of creating a sequel.

Even John Williams’ score sounds derivative with nary an original tune added to the soundtrack. Most of the set-pieces are backed by the iconic tunes from the previous trilogies, adding fuel to the critics’ fire that this new series is little more than fan service. If only it actually did serve the fans’ expectations.

Most science-fiction films rely heavily on exposition, but TLJ takes it to the other extreme. Every backstory, plot point, feeling and thought appears to be spoken out loud, yet nothing much is explained. People are overly emotional and hysterical, but we do not understand why. None of these characters seem like the capable and good-hearted people we met in the previous film. The fact that Leia slaps Poe for disobeying her orders in the beginning of the film tells you all you need to know about this film – it knows nothing about how an actual leader would react in a situation like that and it doesn’t understand Star Wars.

Either Johnson has little understanding of the franchise’s ethos, or studio interference led to this mishmash, but the majority of TLJ is a series of bad decisions made by the main characters that leads to the grave situation the universe is in at the end of the film. I am not sure why Johnson decided that making the characters stupid, incompetent and egotistical would make a perfect Star Wars story, because it doesn’t work and the audience is left disheartened once the credits roll.

Despite its bright sparks, spectacular and original cinematography, Star Wars: The Last Jedi fails to capture the essence of Star Wars – that light must overcome darkness, friendship and family can defeat anything, and the good guys are actually good.

Written By:


Lestat de Lioncourt
Random Thoughts – Lestat’s Blog
Freelance Contributor


Louis’s Perspective:

If there was one thing we could not miss in 2017, it was the hype surrounding Star Wars: The Last Jedi (TLJ). Following the massive success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TFA) in 2015, worldwide fans were desperate for the next instalment of the beloved franchise.

TLJ begins moments after the events of TFA. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) leads Resistance fighters against the First Order, who have tracked them down to the Resistance base. The Resistance manage to escape the First Order’s clutches but not for long, leading Poe, Finn and newest Star Wars alum Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) to hatch a dangerous, and unsanctioned, plan to save the Resistance.

Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) tries to convince Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to return to the Resistance. He reluctantly agrees to help train her but soon realises that Rey’s untapped potential is far too similar to Ben Solo’s (Adam Driver). Can Luke stop Rey from joining the dark side, as his pupil Ben Solo did?

To say a Star Wars film has excellent visuals seems like an obvious statement to make, but it is worth mentioning every time, especially in 2017 when we have seen some poor CGI on the big screen. The locations are a sight to behold; the creatures we encounter are fantastically rendered. Near the latter half of the film, there is a particularly brilliant shot in space that is stunning in its simplicity; I can’t say more without giving too much away. And yes, the porgs are actually as adorable in the film as they appeared to be in the trailers.

TLJ has a great mix of all that we love about Star Wars – the conflict between good and evil, redemption arcs, humour and space battles. There are several moments when characters find themselves in jeopardy and your heart skips a beat.

One of the criticisms against TFA was that the diversity in background characters was missing. This film aims to rectify it. Along with the characters from the original trilogy and TFA, we are also introduced to Rose, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) and DJ (Benicio Del Toro), all of whom have substantial amounts of screen time. These new characters help add to the richness, and more importantly, the diversity of the universe.

There are a number of delightfully humorous moments in the film particularly between Kylo Ren and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Luke and Rey, which helps the overall darkness that permeates TLJ.

This film is very much a Luke Skywalker film. I was surprised to learn that Mark Hamill did not agree with writer-director Rian Johnson on his vision of Skywalker because Hamill is amazing throughout. He portrays Skywalker as jaded and afraid, tempted to do right by his new pupil but afraid he will fail again. TLJ adds a brand new but believable dimension to Luke’s arc which began with him being an orphaned farm boy on Tatooine in A New Hope back in 1977. Hamill is clearly the star of the show here.

It is hard to criticise a Star Wars film because… well, it’s Star Wars. We all desperately want to love the films but TLJ has far too much going on, which explains why the film has the longest runtime of all Star Wars films. At any given point, there are at least five storylines running concurrently. It isn’t as confusing as one would expect, but it does give the film a fragmented feel. No matter how many groups the characters split into in previous Star Wars films, there was always a cohesive narrative.

TLJ tries to knit its several threads together but doesn’t succeed. There are too many sequences where main characters have nothing to do while actions take place around them, which is a bizarre story choice, to say the least.

Despite taking up the story mere moments after TFA, there are plenty of inconsistencies here. Poe Dameron’s Black Squadron are absent as is the medical officer who was treating Chewie before he left in the Falcon with Rey. The new characters in the Resistance also seem to come out of nowhere. It’s these little aspects that hold TLJ back from greatness.

Also, I understand that director Johnson was trying to recreate the Star Wars sequel formula by splitting the main characters up but Rey, Finn and Poe have barely any scenes together. What a shame considering the astounding chemistry we saw between the characters in TFA. I can’t help but wonder if this was Disney’s backlash against the fan-favourite StormPilot pairing. If so, it does the fans and the actors a great disservice.

I get the feeling that Rian Johnson knew he only had the one shot at making a Star Wars film so he put everything imaginable in it. While watching the film, there are very clear moments that pay homage to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. That is too much for one film and it often feels like TLJ has bitten off more than it can chew.

I hate to say it but The Last Jedi may be one of the weakest entries in the Star Wars franchise. Considering the hype surrounding this film and the love fans already have for these characters and this universe, The Last Jedi has not lived up to expectations. Yes, it has numerous moments that make for fantastic cinema and several key elements that expand the Star Wars universe but its greatest failure is that it tries to do too much and ends up achieving too little. Episode XI will have its work cut out.

Written by:

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 20.58.57

Louis Skye
Freelance Contributor


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