Ever since The Force Awakens ended with a literal cliffhanger, fans have been dying for the next chapter in the story. And it has finally arrived. The wait is over. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is here. And here's my review!

I will be keeping this review spoiler-free for those that haven't seen the film yet, but it does mean that this will be a fairly vague review - a pretty broad, "in a nutshell" overview. The plot picks up immediately after the events of The Force Awakens, with General Leia (the late Carrie Fisher), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and the rest of the Resistance preparing for battle against The First Order - who are hot on their heels and coming with the intent on finishing them off. Meanwhile, on the planet of Ach-To, where The Force Awakens ended, Rey (Daisy Ridley) turns to the great Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) for help in bringing down The First Order and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and to train her to learn the ways of the Force and the Jedi.
The Force Awakens did a great job of introducing us to a plethora of new characters - the lead trio of which consisted of Rey, Poe, and Finn (John Boyega) - and it set up a lot of exciting arcs and questions that fans have been clamouring to have answered for the past 2 years. Thankfully, The Last Jedi answers a lot of them (not all, but certainly most) and does a great job of expanding upon everything J.J Abrams set up back in 2015. However, there is a line about midway through the film, given by Hamill's returning Skywalker, in which he is talking to Rey and says "this is not going to go how you think" and it's perhaps the most fitting summation of this entire film we can get. What Rian Johnson has created here, with The Last Jedi, is perhaps one of the boldest, ballsiest Star Wars films yet and one that is wholly unexpected. The story here is constantly twisting and turning and defying in ways that are genuinely shocking and surprising and exciting to watch. For the fans that have wanted a different and unexpected Star Wars film, this is very much it.

All of The Last Jedi's success comes from its script and the brilliant storytelling from Johnson; there is so much going on within this 152 minutes, it's overwhelming and jam-packed with content and story. There are so many great ideas here, and so many new and different ones for a Star Wars film - this deals with things we have never seen in any of the 8 franchise films prior. It's a very intelligent and nuanced screenplay, that is full of depth and subtlety, all just waiting to be examined - layers that demand to be peeled back carefully, over time. It's perhaps a little overstuffed with subplots and characters, meaning that it's all a little too frenetic for its own good at times and some of the newer characters can feel a little sidelined and put to the background. Also, there is a storyline with Finn and newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) that just felt so misplaced; it really brought the entire film to a halt and caused some pacing issues for the film, which cut back and forth between this storyline and everything else. It just did not work for me at all.
What makes The Last Jedi so great is its audacity. The screenplay is bold and is constantly defying your expectations in a way big blockbusters and franchise pieces just do not do anymore. Similarly to Blade Runner 2049 earlier this year, this is a very complex and very intelligent character-piece. There is so much beneath the surface and it's a film that lingers long after the credits roll; it's a film that boasts such fascinating and rich and consequential thematics and ideas. The Force Awakens was great, but it definitely did not do that. The characters here are so multi-layered and flawed and genuine; the Rey/Luke and Rey/Ren dynamics are the film's strongest and they are utterly compelling. Kylo Ren, especially, is the best character in this franchise and his arc in The Last Jedi is utterly subliminal and riveting. Driver's performance is so damaged and conflicted and brilliant; Ridley is equally as impressive as Rey, and Mark Hamill also gives such a subdued and emotional performance too as the very lost, very damaged Luke. They are the standouts here. Some of the other characters were taken in exciting, touching ways, others were left a little undercooked, but the film took some interesting directions with them. Yet, despite all of its "fresh" blood into the franchise, this is very much so a Star Wars film and it feels in-line with all of the other instalments thus far. Visually, it's astounding; the cinematography is gorgeous and there are loads of "I want that as a wallpaper" moments.

Again, it's hard to talk about The Last Jedi too in-depth without getting into spoiler territory. It's not a perfect film. The Rose/Finn sequence in Canto-Bite feels misplaced and her character did not work for me; the humour in the first act of the film - and this is a very funny film, indeed - did not land for me either. The pacing suffers a little and it does make the proceedings feel a little too long. There are also moments involving characters which feel a little rushed, or that I wanted more from, but that's just perhaps something we'll get further development on in Episode IX. At the end of the day, though, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a damn great film. It's bold and audacious; it's a challenging watch, and one that will take time to digest - one that won't be accepted by many as a result of this - but it's innovative and exciting and harkens back to 1977, when the original Star Wars released and was a very different, new sci-fi film. This is Star Wars like we've never seen it before and it's compelling and huge and deepens the lore and mythology like never before. Rian Johnson has done the impossible: he has lived up to the insurmountable hype, and then some. There are some big shoes to fill for Episode IX but Johnson has almost reinvigorated this franchise and I can't help but look forward to where it will go.

VERDICT:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a worthy successor to all of its predecessors, that is complex and unique and full of surprises - one of the most exciting entries into the canon yet.

About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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