STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
FOUR STARS A young woman seeks help from a master Jedi to help contain the force within.
Daisy Ridley, John Boyega
SCIENCE FICTION #THELASTJEDI
Where STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS was little more than a refurbishing of A NEW HOPE (albeit in glorious detail and with the kind of chutzpah only J.J. Abrams could muster), Episode 8 finally - at the risk of mixing franchises - goes where the series has not gone before. That’s to say, doubt has crept into the galaxy: doubt that Vader’s cheer squad can take over the known universe, that the rebels can hold them back, doubt that good guys are entirely good, or that the bad guys are entirely bad. It’s quite the dilemma.
Director Rian Johnson is known for turning genres on their head. He did it with BRICK (a noirish detective yarn set in a high school), and LOOPER (where a cop from the future is sent to kill himself in the past). Clever stuff. And while THE LAST JEDI doesn’t suddenly leap out of the STAR WARS universe - the studio keeps everything as it ought to be - Johnson does invest this chapter with much of his signature wit and style.
He also sets a cracking pace - there’s barely a moment in which high octane action doesn’t get a look in whether that’s battling the forces of evil in space, on land or at Skywalker’s hideaway where young Rey has arrived for some training with Master Luke - for the force is strong with this one. As it is with Johnson and his set designer - Snoke’s shiny red lair looks like something the Paris fashion show would kill for, while a battle that turns a barren white landscape crimson are two of the movie’s finest visual moments. And let's not forget the tantalising split screen couplings of Rey and her nemesis (or is he?) Ren. It brings art to the multiplex.
THE LAST JEDI is also a pleasingly self-contained for a bridging film. Although the under-rated ROGUE ONE is still a more satisfying journey overall, Johnson’s film does a fine job of pulling the story forward, resolving some storylines while leaving plenty of scope for the franchise to move forward. In doing so, he has created an exciting, sometimes thrilling but never disappointing entry into the STAR WARS canon.
Doubt may have overwhelmed the galaxy, but there's none that THE LAST JEDI is a hell of a ride, and a fitting finalé for the late, much-loved Carrie Fisher.