I have left writing this review for a little while as I appreciate that the new Star Wars film is a little bit like Marmite (veggie mite or any other Bovril type substance that you may be accustomed with). While I am a bit of a Star Wars fan, I obviously didn’t appreciate the deep seated feelings that it invokes in people.
So, as a warning, I disliked the film and I will be writing about why. If you loved the film, I am really happy that you did, so please don’t, as I found with a few people who I had a discussion with that loved it, get totally, morally offended that I didn’t see your point of view or assume that I didn’t understand the film, I appreciate that it is an institution and believe me, I am as upset as you are that I didn’t enjoy the latest instalment of this household stable from the film industry.
I am not going to break down the entire story line, as I know that some of you out there have not seen the movie yet and probably want to, but there will, as ever be spoilers so, if you don’t want to know the secrets of where blue milk comes from or why Leia rivals Mary Poppins, look away now.
As you probably know, this is the 8th film in this long running saga, and the First Order and the Rebellion are still battling on. The film starts with the Rebellion trying to blow up a Dreadnought, with devastating results, harping back to days of the “Empire Strikes Back”, and this pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film.
We then proceed through a story which really goes against the previous division of good and evil, as we have seen in the past, more about the balance and conflict of those who can use the force. The feel has shifted from the separation of moral ground to that of what I think was supposed to be ultimate understanding. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), is now a jaded and a frankly grumpy hermit, seeing in Rey (Daisy Ridley), what he saw in Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) years earlier, and it scares him. His new resistance to teaching Rey how to handle the force demonstrating how he had turned his back on his own Jedi abilities, only then to teach her three lessons in the force, which ultimately boils down to the force is within everyone and everything, it is basically the moral fiber of how everything is made up, and to have the light you must also have the dark. You do also get to see a homage to the blue milk with Luke expressing green milk from a Thalasiren. This is a rather uncomfortable scene and I really could have lived without it.
While Luke and Rey have this battle of what should happen with the force, the Rebellion are fudging through a poor battle against the First Order, their numbers dwindling and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is trying to keep head strong Poe (Oscar Isaac) in check. The First Order, have invested in some better technology and they are now able to track ships through hyperspace jumps, and Leia’s ship is running desperately low on fuel. This invokes some crazy plans, a trip for Fin (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), to a gambling planet to find a code breaker (Benicio del Toro) who can help them and some bizzare chase scene with ships and Fathiers. This ultimately results in the capture of Fin and Rose, and the realisation that the code breaker has sold them out. There is also a very misguided scene where part of the Rebellions ship is blown up, and in a clumsy attempt to demonstrate Leia’s own force, as she is catapulted into the depths of space, we see her frozen death mask, only for her fingers to twitch and she manages to pull herself back to the ship, before collapsing.
Erstwhile, Rey and Kylo have connected in the manner of the force being one and the same, and Kylo’s conflicted feelings over his place in the universe, and this peaks in a turn of events which wasn’t totally unexpected, the battle really making this scene a mix between joyful and cringeworthy. There is a moment, after the death of Snoke (Andy Serkis), where you think that Kylo and Rey might join their forces, to give a balanced ruling over the galaxy, but this is short lived and just pushes Kylo’s conflicted anger to epic proportions. Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) tries to distract the First Order, by jumping the ship in through the first orders ship, in a scene which looks like it was directed by David Lynch, and really, while it was one of the best parts of the film, did not fit in at all.
The showdown is dramatic and visual exciting, the planet of Crait, giving a perfect backdrop with its white covering of salt which turns red when disturbed, but visuals can’t take away from the fact that Leia’s crew is down to about 20 people against the whole First Order. I am also a little confused why the Vulptex (the spangly frost foxes) look a little bit like they would fit right in to the pokemon franchise.
Luke turns up in a dramatic, but teenage temper tantrum showdown with Kylo, only for Luke to be projecting himself. followed by his death scene which is reminiscent of the turtle kung fu master in “Kung fu Panda”.
I have left out dirty great chunks of story line, in an attempt to be illusive enough for those who haven’t seen this film, not to feel cheated by any spoilers I may have dropped.
What I wanted from this film was a logical follow on from “The Force Awakens”, what I got was a hash of history repeating itself. Rey being made almost redundant, three quarters of the way through the film, and a cameo from Yoda.
The filming techniques slip and slide through varying styles, moving the film away from what we are used to in a Star Wars film, and trying to bring some artsy visuals to something that really didn’t need it. I appreciate that Rian Johnson is trying to make his mark in the Star Wars franchise, but on this occasion it is a little bit of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The humour has shifted in this film as well, and characters that we all know and love have taken some odd turns in their lives, making them come across as something new and not altogether enjoyable.
I can completely see why some of you out there have loved this film and like me why some do not. It does raise many questions, such as, if putting a ship in to hyperdrive and aiming at another ship causes that much destruction, why didn’t the Rebellion stockpile old ships and aim them at things like…I don’t know… a death star? Although this could then potentially turn the Rebellion in to what could be seen as suicide bombers (seeing as you need someone to pilot the ship) and this is probably a line no one wants to cross, although droids could have pilotted these ships… I could talk myself around in circles all day .
You do however have the new cute animals from the film to entertain your kids with in the Porgs. Put in to cover up the puffins on the island that filming took place on, these off the same type of comedy relief as maybe the ewoks did. No doubt we will be inundated with plush toys and keyrings of these little blighters soon enough.
With all of this said, I expect that this has brought about some emotions either way about how I have seen the film, and how you see it, so I will take the opportunity to remind you that art is subjective and each viewer of a painting or a film, or reader of a book will have their own take on it.
So, please, feel free to give me your take on The Last Jedi, in the comments, but please don’t take it personally that I didn’t like it… it’s just a film at the end of the day.