It’s that time of year again, another instalment has been added to the Star Wars franchise in the form of episode VIII; The last Jedi. So, does the newest film live up to the original trilogy, or fall to the lows of the prequels.
Daisy Ridley returns as the aspiring Jedi, Rey, as she attempts to gain the trust and support of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, and prevent the dreaded First Order from crushing the rebels once and for all. The film takes several perspectives of, possibly, the most dramatic 48 hours in Star Wars history as epic battles, dramatic monologues and unexpected events are presented to us through stunning visuals. Mark Hamill gives his greatest Star Wars performance yet, depicting a withered Luke, portraying similar levels of pain compared to coming to terms with his father’s identity. Adam Driver is another stand out, as the evil Kylo Ren, giving a more impassioned performance than many of the other characters.
The Last Jedi is the most visually stunning Star Wars film to date with standout moments involving any lightsabre scenes, and one particular ship destruction sequence. However, it is let down by its story structure and level of unfulfilled potential. Rian Johnson, the director, had the unenviable task of satisfying long term fans of the original trilogy, supporters of the modern additions and facing the inevitable comparison to the highly acclaimed Empire Strikes Back. Unfortunately, he does not succeed in every aspect. The film is 2 hours and 33 minutes long, becoming the longest Star Wars film in history and it shows. Over 5 different story arcs take place and not all of them work, as a result, the film has to balance several characters and awkwardly shifts in tones as we are transported to different stories. There will be no spoilers here, but there are definite events and a certain character that did not live up to the two years’ worth of anticipation.
Despite the films flaws, there are distinct moments of greatness. Luke Skywalker and General Leia, portrayed by the late Carrie Fisher, are both joys to watch as they pass on intellect, experience and the franchise to the new cast of heroes. The sense of discovery and intrigue for new planets and creatures is also present, especially with the introduction of Porgs, who rival the Ewoks in terms of being adorable. As mentioned before, the cinematography, by Steve Yedlin, rivals that of a Nolan film, by making concepts we have seen in eight previous films, look breath-takingly original, having the simple clash of lightsabres a spectacle to behold. The Last Jedi’s overall story is not a rehash of Empire Strikes Back, but is a gripping addition to the Star Wars mythos, which is what matters at the end of the day.
Episode VIII is, by no means a contender for the best Star Wars film, but at the same time, it is not a candidate for the worst Star Wars instalment. Despite the run-time, over-abundance of sub-plots and some confusing, unexplained events, it is still a strong addition to the Star Wars saga and provides hope that there is more to explore in this galaxy far, far away.