Star Wars 8 The Last Jedi movie review
Finally here it is. The moment of truth. Is The Last Jedi everything fans and critics have hoped?
The movie is out in cinemas on December 14 and the European premire in at London’s Ryal Albert Hall tonight.
We went to main UK press screening last night and the official Disney and Lucasfilm embargo is about to lift.
Never has a Star Wars movie had so many questions to answer – about Rey, Snoke, Luke, the ancient Jedi, the Force, Leia’s fate, bromances and so much more…
Ryan Johnson has promised there will be some major casualties in this movie. Mark Hamill and his alter-ego Mr Skywalker has warned that things will not go as you expect.
They are both absolutely right.
But does The Last Jedi deliver everything we have been hoping for over the last two years?
The movie opens explosively with the epic battle over D’Qar as the rag-tag Resistance remnants flee and First Order ships loom over the planet.
The trailer previews had hinted at the powerful action scenes, but this is a magnificent, nail-biting sequence that hammers home the terrible sacrifice and deadly danger the tiny rebel forces face.
It also reintroduces Leia as an inspiring, almost mythical figurehead for hope and freedom, contrasted with Kylo Ren’s tortured state of permanent emo-angst. Adam Driver excels in this role in a way that Hayden Christensen only dreamed of back in his “I hate sand” teenage trauma.
These will be two of the central themes of the entire movie. It is all about the Skywalkers, even as Luke hides away, Leia steps up in a majestic and deeply moving final performance from Carrie Fisher.
No spoilers but just WAIT For one Leia scene in particular. It is nothing fans have ever seen before and an absolutely jaw-dropping reminder that she also carries the same powerful bloodline. It is a painful hint of what could have been explored more in Episode 9.
Star Wars 8: Will Kylo turn back to the Light?
As for her twin, Luke is as a grumpy as the trailers have hinted. He is a figure of despair and disillusion and Hamill turns in the performance of his life that builds to an extraodinary final scene that is sure to divide fans for years to come.
As for Rey, the big question is whether she is a hero or budding villain. Actually the big question has always been about her parents. It is finally answered after a lot of teasing that is spun out for virtually the entire movie so that by the time the truth is unveiled it has far too much to deliver. Again, when it finally comes, it is definitely one of those “not what you expected” moments.
Daisy Ridley is fine in the role, but somehow hasn’t built on a stirring debut in The Force Awakens. She is resolute and sturdy but not inspiring.
A real delight is Rose, played with humour and heartache by Kelly Marie Tran. Laura Dern also impresses as Vice Admiral Holdo in a deceptively powerful performance that finally builds to a hell of a pay-off.
Benicio del Toro’s DJ is as slippery and strange as hinted and he turns out to be… well, let’s just say he stays true to his nature.
Star Wars 8 Rey and Snoke
The much-lauded scenes on Canto Bight are strangely rushed and fail to impact as much as the lavish set designs and costumes deserve. A sub-plot about plucky local orphans feels a tad mawkish (and the spectre of child Anakin looms large).
Speaking of spectres, everyone has been hoping for a major Force ghost reveal. There is an huge moment when a major figure from the past features that is by turns whimsical and impressive but to say any more would spoil the fun.
All I can say is that it comes like a bolt from the blue…
The movie dwells repeatedly on the mistakes of the past and whether we can ever escape our origins.
It’s impossible to completely move away from the Skywalker legacy but the dynamic between Rey and Kylo Ren is fixed on the future as much as the past. It introduces a disturbing and deceptive new slant that is very welcome and redefines our notions of good and evil, Light and Dark.
A huge pivotal moment towards the end is a perfect moment that illustrates how finely choices balance on a knife’s (or lightsaber’s) edge.
The entire audience held its breath and we were truly not sure which way it would go.
Star Wars 8: How will Leia’s story end?
Indeed, the most impressive aspect of the movie is the constant unsettling sensation that nobody (the characters included) is sure which way anything will go. For a deeply formulaic franchise this is a a phenomenal achievement.
Yes, some beloved and not so beloved characters move on and there is another spectacular battle scene to finish it all off, but even then Johnson subverts our expectations for the final big reveal.
In a flurry of stunning set-pieces and gorgeous cinematography everything distils down to one last encounter. It is worth the wait, stunningly filmed and then pulls the rug out from under the audience one last time. Some fans will definitely not be happy.
Star Wars 8: Will Luke help Rey?
The movie suffers a little from uneven pacing and occasionally lost my focus here and there but it is a worthy addition to the canon.
As for those porgs, I’m afraid I remain as indifferent as I have from the beginning. All I can say is that Chewbacca has the right idea, involving an open fire and a skewer.
Not all the slightly over-egged humour works, and Domhall Gleeson’s twitching Hux runs the risk of becoming faintly ridiculous at times, but there is some compensation in a breathtakingly cheeky scene involving an iron that sent a wave of guffaws aroudn the audience.
Overall, the movie still has a few wrinkles but is a fine and Force-full addition to the saga.
RATING: 4 stars
Published at Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:22:00 +0000