After the events of The Force Awakens, the First Order have taken over the galaxy, but the Resistance is small but intact. When the Resistance has to flee their base, they find the First Order is tracking them and have to find a way to shake them if they are to survive. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and while she has a lot to discover about herself, Luke does not respond to her presence in the way she hoped.
Two years after The Force Awakens, there is a lot of pressure on The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson to carry on the slick, engaging and exciting story started by J.J. Abrams with The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi is the so-called difficult second movie in the new Star Wars trilogy, and although there is so much fun to be had with the film, there are times when this shows.
The main cast are back, and they are obviously having a great time with the expanded roles they have in this new film. John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and Carrie Fisher get to give their characters more layers throughout the film, and are joined by Benicio Del Toro, Kelly Marie Tran and Laura Dern, who widen the world of Star Wars that we already know, and bring depth to the story. Kelly Marie Tran is the standout of the film; her character Rose begins the film star struck at meeting a Resistance fighter, and throughout the not inconsiderable running time, Tran makes the character a fierce fighter and a loyal friend, and an inspirational woman. Oh, and in good news; the Porg are rather cute and not annoying at all; Johnson uses them cleverly and sparingly.
Rian Johnson’s screenplay brings a lot of humour to the world of Star Wars, and tries to fill the void left by Han Solo’s absence with characters who have the same easy charm and quick wit. There are times when this succeeds, and others when it does not, but there is a lot of fun to be had with the characters and the expansions that Johnson gives them. The story is a solid one, but feels rather small in terms of the Star Wars universe, and splitting the story between Rey’s calm and sedate storyline and Finn’s more action packed adventure leaves the film feeling divided and the energy a little messy. At 152 minutes The Last Jedi is the longest Star Wars movie to date, and there are times when it shows, and the momentum of the film drops. The opening and closing sequences however, go a long way to help this.
As director, Rian Johnson has a lot of fun with the Star Wars universe, and the characters give strong and engaging performances, with the new characters feeling as though they effortlessly fit within the world of the film series. That said, there are times when the pacing of the film slows right down and although it is still enjoyable to spend time in Johnson’s Star Wars world, the story feels as though it is forgotten from time to time. As well as this, the slick, tight and exciting feel of J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens is not always evident in this sequel. The beautiful cinematography of the film adds some magic and wonder however, and the new creatures of the film get to shine too.
In all, there is a lot of fun to be had with The Last Jedi, and the story is progressed nicely for the final film in the trilogy. The new characters work well in the world of the film, and add warmth and depth; the Porg are not annoying – no Gungans here! – and everyone seems to be having a good time in this space epic. That said, there are times when the pacing drops and the main story seems almost to be forgotten, but the humour and heart of Star Wars is definitely there, and the opening and closing sequences are more fun than they have a right to be. It’s just a shame that the energy fizzles from time to time.