Star Wars: The Last Jedi (No Spoilers)


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I, like many geeks, had a number of questions going in to The Last Jedi. Could it maintain the quality of The Force Awakens? Might it even be better than its predecessor? Would it still be fun despite the darker tone suggested by the trailer? Would it prove a fitting tribute to Carrie Fisher? Is Gary Barlow really in it? Who are Rey’s parents? Has Luke gone a bit bad? How did Maz Kanata get Luke’s Lightsaber? Could Kylo ‘Ben’ Ren be heading towards redemption? Well, having now seen it I am happy to report the following answers: Yes, yes, yes, yes, not that I could see, I’m not telling, I’m not telling, they’re not telling and oh wow, just you wait.

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Beyond that you won’t get any spoilers out of me, at least not in this post. There is one key thing I will say, referring to what I believe is the best aspect of the film, and it is nicely expressed by a line spoken by Luke Skywalker in the movie; ‘This is not going to go the way you think’. (Oh yes, mini spoiler; Luke actually speaks in this one.)

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You have to remember that you are not going to get an impartial view on this from me. I have been a Star Wars fan for all time and there’s never been a better time to be a Star Wars fan than right now so I may be going a little giddy about the whole thing. Nonetheless I will happily argue that Rian Johnson’s follow up to The Force Awakens is another absolute triumph. It takes the characters you already love from the previous film(s) and develops them with an intriguing story full of adventure and peril that constantly goes in directions you would not anticipate.

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The Last Jedi is different to any other Star Wars film. It has some wonderful nods to what has come before, including a great little scene that literally replays a part of the original movie, but it is very much its own thing. The expanded Star Wars universe has long been telling little side stories to the main events, through the books, the computer games and the cartoons, and in some respects it feels like that is what is happening here despite Luke and Leia being at the heart of it. There are essentially three separate tales going on in The Last Jedi even though they are linked and come together well at the end.

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You can demonstrably tell that this film has a different writing and directing team to The Force Awakens. I had read in the press that producer Kathleen Kennedy told Rian Johnson that the story was his to pick up and run with as he wanted to which I found hard to believe at the time. Having seen the film though I totally accept that this is what happened. Much of what The Force Awakens set up is abandoned here and some character moments even feel a little inconsistent with that film. The Force also seems to be able to allow some people to do some pretty incredible things now and I’m not sure they are following the parameters set up by George Lucas, such as they were. Also, while I’m being critical, some parts seem underwritten in the sense that it isn’t clear why certain things happen as a result of certain other things happening and one returning classic character feels a little shoehorned in. If there was one thing that The Force Awakens was criticised for though it was that it too closely followed the beats of A New Hope and that is absolutely not the case here. Some fans may not like the direction it goes in but I went with it all the way and I cannot wait for Episode IX (which interestingly is being directed by the man behind The Force Awakens, J.J Abrams).

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Outside of all of this the movie is funny, it almost seems to be gently mocking itself in places, it has some great punch the air moments and the design is superb, especially of the salt planet where one of the main confrontations takes place. The Force Awakens brought us gloriously back into this world but The Last Jedi leads us somewhere else and I loved the whole two and a half hour journey. The news that Rian Johnson will now be directing a whole separate Star Wars trilogy is positively tantalising.

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In terms of the other big question that has been on the internet’s lips since the first trailer, I could have done without the Porgs but it is wonderful to see brilliant puppet work back in a Star Wars film. This particular type of special effects is as much a part of the series as Yoda. 

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Is this one for the kids?
The Last Jedi has a slightly more adult tone than The Force Awakens, although not quite as much as Rogue One, but features fewer scary monsters. The film is rated 12A but if you’ve got children around ten or above who are already fans of these movies then I’m sure they’ll enjoy it. If they are not fans of Star Wars then you shouldn’t be starting here anyway.

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The Ripley Factor:
Main actor Ridley still has the Ripley Factor but she is joined here by a number of other strong woman characters. Princess Leia is the absolute picture of dignified authority and has some previously unseen skills, then there is Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Holdo and Kelly Marie Tran as Rose who both add to the ever growing list of great female Star Wars role models. It is great to see Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd taking a greater role in proceedings as well. That feels appropriate.

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