Film Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Episode VIII)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Poster, Film Review by Matthew Hepburn

Fantasy, future and science fiction are some of my favourite genres, but for some reason Star Wars has never been one of my favourite film franchises. Not even Star Trek. But since the reboot, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams, 2015), including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards, 2016), I’ve been strangely hooked. So that’s why I thought I’d see Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017) and continue the saga…

What did I like about Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

The number of strong women who appear throughout the movie is really inspiring. From Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) to the lead actress Rey (Daisy Ridley), as well as supporting actresses like Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o). It’s a promising sign to see such a universally popular film boast a cast of such deep and diverse female talent, all of whom are treated as individuals and rarely conforming to stereotype.

Even though I’m British, I’m not always a fan of British humour in movies. But, it works quite well in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. A couple of instances come to mind, such as when Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) orders his troop to fire mercilessly at Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), which seems to go on forever, until General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) interrupts with something like “do you think you got him yet?”. Or, during Jedi training, when Luke asks Rey to “reach out” and she literally puts her arms out – it was a little clichéd, but it’s nice to see the film and actors not take themselves too seriously for a brief second.

What didn’t I like about Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

I really struggled to find the villains scary, which was a problem. It made me feel less emotionally invested in the rebels’ struggle, and as a result the action sequences dragged a little. Kylo Ren came across like an angry teenager, who, for killing his father, and repeated attempts at trying to murder his mother, uncle and the rest of the Resistance, did not seem like much of a fear-inducing psychopath. The fact that he was so easily able to impale Snoke (Andy Serkis) with a lightsaber really lost it for me. But I did notice and like how the number of surviving rebels depleted towards the end of the movie, which helped add some perspective to the damage done by the First Order.

Star Wars is known for its array of weird and wonderful creatures and cyborgs, but the Porgs were so grossly animated and “Disney” that it really broke my suspension of disbelief. They didn’t enhance the narrative or contribute to the spectacle, which made me question their purpose. Perhaps they’ll get their own spin-off movie, and be made into cuddly toys and plushies for children? Either way, it seemed like a cheap attempt at humour and a transparent attempt at marketing merchandise to a 12A audience of cinemagoers. Instead, I would have liked to have seen more interaction between the ship’s crew, or B-roll at the very least. But now I’m just being a cynical and bitter film critic.

Watch the trailer and learn more about Matthew Hepburn.

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