Luke’s review published on Letterboxd:
After the incredible success of The Force Awakens, there was an extreme amount of pressure on the next instalment and what Rian Johnson would do with it. Johnson has created a visually stunning film, filled with incredible character moments and story elements. Many people complained that TFA was too much like A New Hope, but I think that is exactly what the new trilogy needed. Episode 8 didn’t need that and Johnson is able to be bold with his film and make some really strong choices. It feels completely unique whilst still feeling like Star Wars.
The film is darker and grittier than its predecessor, whilst still maintaining lighter and more heartfelt moments, a balance that Johnson did brilliantly. Finn and Rose (an excellent addition to an already stellar cast) have some great lighthearted moments, and great chemistry between the pair. Poe is being Poe for most of the film, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Oscar Isaac plays him with boundful energy that exudes off the screen.
The real breadwinners in this film though are Luke, Rey and Kylo. Mark Hamill gives a fantastic performance as Luke and Johnson wrote the character beautifully. This isn’t the Luke we grew up knowing and loving. He’s isolated himself and lost all hope after his failures at training new Jedi and he has some absolutely fantastic character moments. Moments that left me without breathe and feeling elated. Rey and Kylo have some seriously great scenes in this film. Watching the two play off each other in this film was quite mesmerising, and Ridley and Driver give great performances. They both do things in this film that left me in shock and awe, and I love that! Leia is so Leia and Carrie Fisher plays the character like she never left it. There’s one scene that gave me chills but I’m really not sure how most people will feel about it.
The new additions to the cast were really great for the most part, with the standouts being Kelly Marie Tran and Laura Dern. Both of these ladies do the most they can with their characters and have some really badass moments. If I had been talking (which like hey.. don’t be that person) there is a scene with Dern that would’ve left me speechless. Mainly at how stunning it looked. Benicio is very Benicio and not sure of my entire thoughts on him yet.
Overall the film is a visual masterpiece, taking the saga into uncharted territory, and playing with dark themes whilst still maintaining the sense of adventure Star Wars has always had. It answers some questions whilst raising many others and gives J.J a lot of material to explore in episode 9. I honestly can’t wait to see how it wraps up.
This is honestly one of the best Star Wars films to date, however it isn’t a perfect film. I definitely had issues with certain elements of it, mainly certain choices that were made for certain characters. For the most part I do think it works better as a stand alone film rather than a middle film in a trilogy, as it makes incredibly bold choices that don’t quite seem to follow on from TFA. That goes hand in hand with a certain character choice. Rian Johnson has however done a brilliant job at delivering another beautiful Wars film to the masses, a film that gives you a lot to analyse and take in. A film that must be seen multiple times.
Can’t wait to talk spoilers once more peeps have seen it. Oh also Porgs are cute as fuck!