It’s 2.45 in the morning, and I have just returned from the latest instalment of the juggernaut that is the Star Wars Saga.
I actually went to a double bill screening of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, to ensure that I was caught up on the new characters and their introduction. It became quite clear that very little back story is explored with the new generation, and The Last Jedi begins to address that.
9To bring us up to date, the Republic was decimated by Starkiller Base, Rey had departed in search of Luke Skywalker, and Finn was left in medical care.
Fast forward two years and we now have Rey meeting Luke, and looking for answers about The Force and how she can use it. Finn is still in the medical bay, and Poe Dameron is becoming a reckless and daring pilot.
As you would expect, there is quite a lot of the movie devoted to Rey seeking guidance from Luke, how has gone to great lengths to isolate himself from the galaxy. We are also introduced to the species native to the island, who have looked after the ancient Jedi temple for thousands of years, and also the Porgs, cuddly looking birdlike creatures that are clearly only in the movie for their cuteness. The setting felt very reminiscent of Fight Club, with recruits following around the master, waiting for some recognition and acceptance.
Towards the end of The Force Awakens we saw that The First Order had confirmed the location of the Resistance headquarters, and were powering up for a second shot when the base was crippled and destroyed. We now have the Resistance evacuating the base ahead of the inevitable counter-attack, in a move that feels very reminiscent of The Empire Strikes Back. If I am honest, I was a little worried that this would set the tone for the entire movie as simply a reskin of Episode V, in the same way that some people consider The Force Awakens to be a reskin of Episode IV.
Luckily, the movie wisely chose to change things around by making a bold decision to introduce new characters quite early on, who become central to the film’s plot.
Finn wakes up from his recovery and wants to go and find Rey, but instead meets Rose, who changes his mind, and becomes his companion for much of the film.
Supreme Leader Snoke was presented as a hologram throughout Episode VII, but here we see him take a central role, as he tries to manipulate his subjects, as any decent villain would do.
We still see regular sniping between General Hux and Kylo Ren, as they vie for favour with Snoke aboard his flagship, and by the end of the movie there is a clear winner in this infantile struggle.
Captain Phasma returns which a much more interesting role, in that she does a lot more than simply walk about ordering others to do as she commands. She proved to be one of my favourites with her increased use as a character, and seeing her engaging in combat is encouraging.
BB-8 seems to have been upgraded from central character with the occasional comedy moment to occasionally on screen, but always commanding attention when he is. BB-9e was introduced in the summer as a First Order version of the new favourite droid, but he is in and out of the movie so quickly a more cynical person might think he was only featured in order to sell more toys.
Rey and Kylo Ren had an intense fight towards the end of The force Awakens, and there is a large investment in exploring the relationship between the force-wielders.
This is one aspect which frustrates me a little. Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One, and was supposed to be one of the best Jedi. In this movie we see a lot of new Jedi powers, and whilst it is good for the story, it did leave me beginning to predict the next series of new powers that we would have seen.
I would suggest that there is plenty of space combat to keep fans happy, plenty of drama, and loss of characters, though some new tricks you didn’t see coming are generally well received. The humour is a little more abundant, but some of the jokes miss the mark, but they can’t all be golden. There is also a cameo of a character that was very well hidden from the media, so I will not mention who it is, but it was great to see.
My biggest criticism of the movie is that it felt like it was 2.5 hours long, which is was, but that is like saying I was fed up with The Return Of The King for going on another 20 minutes or so after they could have ended the movie. I will almost definitely see the movie again at the cinema, but it began to feel like so much needed to be crammed into this movie that the Episode IX team will need to work hard to create some form of peril for our new heroes.
This film is definitely much darker than the previous one, but it feels like it is constantly trying to throw in a joke or sidewards glance to remind you that there are other factions and allegiances being represented, and I have already mentioned the Porgs.
Overall I enjoyed the movie, and would recommend it, although not before advising of a trip to use the toilet prior to the film starting.
– Justin Smith has been a podcaster for over 6 years, and has been visiting the cinema regularly for 4 of them. When he’s not playing games with Star Wars themed miniatures, he spends time with video games.