Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Snoke And Mirrors [Review: The Last Jedi]

Picking up where The Force Awakens ends, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) but must persuade him to return to help the rebellion. The First Order, under the command of the mysterious Snoke and his subordinates Kylo Ren and General Hux are closing in on the rebel fleet. Providing any more synopsis would be a spoiler - and nobody wants that.

The Last Jedi is directed by Rian Johnson but J.J. Abrams is still the executive director and there is still evidence of his influence - not least the in-jokes that reference the original trilogy and the legends that surround it. To give one example that is only a minor spoiler, it's quite well known that R2-D2's electronic sound is based on actual dialogue, and that much of that original dialogue was filthy. In this film R2-D2 is reprimanded for using inappropriate language in a holy location.

However the film feels a little more gentle than The Force Awakens, despite the intense battles at the start and end, and more spiritual. Midichlorians are not mentioned and the mystical side of the Force is emphasised, not unlike Hope and Empire. We also get to see some completely new sides of the Force, even if one of these is taken wholesale from Harry Potter. And there are one or two scenes that carry surprising emotional weight, on a par with the most memorable scenes from the original trilogy. The writing is good, and questions are answered - but not the ones I was expecting. Performances from the newcomers (Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver) are matched by the awesome return of Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. There are some things called Porgs, and BB-8 still steals scenes left right and centre.

The Last Jedi is enjoyable for many reasons, but particularly for the comedy aspects. Visually all of the Star Wars films are strong and The Last Jedi is no exception. It's not another Empire Strikes Back but definitely one of the better present-day films.