Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, also known as Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, is a 2017 American space epic written and directed by Rian Johnson and stars another huge cast that includes: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro. The story follows Rey as she seeks the aid of Luke Skywalker, in hopes of turning the tide for the Resistance in the fight against Kylo Ren and the First Order, while General Leia Organa, Finn, and Poe Dameron attempt to escape a First Order attack on the dwindling Resistance.

Having finally re-watched The Last Jedi, for only the third time since its release, I believe at this point in time I can say this is a film I respect more than I necessarily enjoy. What makes this film really stand out above others in the franchise is the phenomenal cinematography by Steve Yedlin that's on display. The red guard/throne sequence with Kylo and Rey is one of, if not, my favourite sequence in the franchise. It's absolutely stunning to watch as the utter beauty of the sequence encapsulated me throughout and provided, by far, the best moment of this film when the two team up for the first time to take down Snoke and the red-robed Royal Guards.

Now, when The Last Jedi gets it right, it more than hits its stride. For the most part, it's a character driven film about the discovery of who they are. Rey journeys to find Luke and train as a Jedi like he once had, Finn and Rose go on a mission to a casino to find a 'codebreaker' to help the resistance and Poe tries to save the resistance by taking charge of the situation and becoming an almost Leia like symbol in the rebellion. When the film focuses on the characters journeys and their overall development, it works a treat. It's just sad the storyline doesn't fully utilise their abilities. Yet, what's most interesting to me about The Last Jedi's character moments is that of Luke's return as the mentor rather than the student, grappling with his failure in the role before, and later aspiring to be the wise and patient teacher that Rey needed. Luke's "battle" with Kylo Ren was, for me, one of the best moments of this film, and despite him not actually being there, it still allows for the film to end on a sad, but fitting note for his character as he fades into the background and becomes one with the force.

The journeys the characters go on throughout the film develop them into far more than carbon copies of the original cast and help flesh out the world, are lore, of Star Wars all the more as not only are they interesting to watch, but the performances from the main cast were once again splendid and therefore, compelled me all the more to watch on.

However, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has always been a film that has deeply frustrated me. Even writing this now I'm frustrated as I get why many people adore it, I do as well for the most part, it's just the overall second act that truly bugs me. Whilst the cinematography and performances are all great, the storyline leaves so much to be desired as our three main characters spend the whole runtime apart from one another on three different 'missions'. This takes away much of the bond between our main characters as we ultimately don't get to see them interact with one another till the very last scene.

Similarly, the Finn and Rose relationship was one that proved to have so much potential, but the way it was ultimately utilised left a lot to be desired and sadly, has always been the weakest aspect of this film for me as the potential for something great was there, they just never managed to write it correctly. Likewise, the character of Admiral Holdo, played by Laura Dern, has always been one I've never revered. Her characters sacrifice was supposed to hold some significance in the film, while it is meaningful for the story, we never got to know her character beforehand and therefore the sacrifice never held any emotional value for me as ultimately, it's a character I never cared about in the first place.

At the end of the day, under the fastidious guidance of writer-director Rian Johnson, The Last Jedi feels like the most down to earth movie in the franchise and for that, it flourishes with it's character driven narrative, beautiful looking sequences and strong performances. However, intentions and inspiration aside, The Last Jedi doesn’t add up to an “Empire Strikes Back” for this trilogy. Despite being undoubtedly the best looking, most thematically rich, Star Wars film and working as a fitting conclusion to Luke's story, the romance plot and way in which the overall story was handled, has always deeply frustrated me and for that, whilst I don't hate this movie, I just can't get past my preconceptions and disappointment of it to fully enjoy it. 
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What are your thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Did it 'ruin your childhood' or are you one of the many fans that enjoy it?

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