Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
Written and Directed by Rian Johnson
Based on characters created by George Lucas
Starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher
Review by Jordan
Note that this review contains no spoilers
“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be”
The authentically cinematic nature of the Star Wars films is unrivalled among the bastions of competitive franchises who would seek to dethrone its status.
Unlike the pantomime scenarios and unlived worlds presented in some big-screen blast of pop-culture cross-referencing, the series born from George Lucas’ original vision of a galaxy far, far away and the timeless battle and personalities that define it, and now continued through grandiose episodes both nostalgic and future-focussed in partnership with spinoffs that populate oft discussed gaps, feels both genuine and fantastical.
This has always been Star Wars’ strength: to ground the unbelievable and add consequence to every act.
Following Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the unexpectedly outstanding Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi takes the expected struggle between the domineering First Order led by Supreme Leader Snoke and decimated Rebellion commanded by Leia Organa, and uses its destined existence to focus less on the war, and more on inner turmoil and instincts of those fighting it. This is a captivating approach that naturalistically unearths hidden mysteries, though regrettably the outcomes of key character uncertainties aren’t as unpredictable as they originally, and so promisingly seemed to be.
The flaws of Poe Dameron (inability to distinguish loyalty from sacrifice), Finn (instinct to engage an adversary takes precedence over valuing life) and Luke Skywalker (trust for those with power to wield it admirably) are shown to have varying levels of account, and each hero receives the humbling and development they need; though at times Finn’s role in all of the dazzling chaos does appear uncertain. The predominant drawback relates to aspiring Jedi Rey and the anguished Kylo Ren, in the form of a deflating realisation that the captivating intersection their paths cross at may not lead to an end befitting its potential.
Ben Solo is such a tormented character, and his mantra of letting the past die to create a personal fate not pulled down by it so befits his deformed, though strangely compelling agenda. His power heightened and proposition made in earnest, its possible to view the film’s final act from the perspective of an exasperated mind struggling to comprehend the futility of good an evil without a lasting outcome.
It seems that Star Wars isn’t invested in lasting outcomes that define the greater balance; only the shifting sands of power as it resides in the hands of light and dark, maintaining consequences that will lead to the scales being tipped one way or the other until it tips again. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is an important continuation of an epic saga in many respects, and as always it breathes cinematic quality, but the unforseen moments that lead to less than the anticipation they generate hold it back from greatness.
4 questionable milk sources out of 5
For Eddie’s take on the film CLICK HERE