Written by Adam Cox (@thyercox).
1977 was the year I became a film nerd. I saw the original Star Wars and it was the first movie I ever saw at the cinema. The queue was round the block and the whole experience left a lasting impression on me (and not just the gum I had to scrape off my jeans). I loved Star Wars and all the sequels until The Phantom Menace left me colder than the ice planet Hoth.
Fast forward 40 years and I saw The Last Jedi this week. I took my eldest son to see the movie with the critics’ negative voices in my head. I had read a number of scathing reviews and wondered why there was so much online negativity around the film. Having now seen the movie, I STILL don’t know why there appears to be such hate for The Last Jedi, as I loved it!
The events of The Force Awakens resonate across this story. The fallout from the death of Han Solo and the continuing dark journey of Kylo Ren (Ben Solo) hangs heavy on the plot. The re-awakening of Luke Skywalker as a central character is brilliantly realized in the movie. I know Mark Hamill had reservations about how Luke’s character evolves, but it is nothing but a fantastic maturing journey, told as well as any stories that have come before.
The story has some plot holes, but it hurtles along with a quiet resolve that made it feel like 1977. As much as I loved The Force Awakens, this movie is better. It has heart, it has fun and it has purpose. It doesn’t just set up the next movie in the franchise, but stands alone as a fabulous story that shows the human condition of never being black or white. Shades of grey surround the story and the only one-dimensional characters are maybe Supreme Leader Snoke and some of the less explored personnel.
Key scenes for me were the time spent on the remote island of Ahch-To, where Rey meets up with Skywalker. In addition, the gambling land where the Codebreaker is found, is a fantastic piece of cinema gold. This is clearly the Los Vegas of the Star Wars universe and it is returned to in the end.
The direction by Rian Johnson (who also wrote it) is brisk, but suspenseful. The cinematography is brilliant, with not too much emphasis on CGI. The score is sympathetic to the story and the whole cast plays amazingly well together to make it a real ensemble piece.
Criticisms are few, but maybe, just maybe, the fat could have been trimmed a bit, as the running time feels a little too long. A minor gripe, but there is not much more I could say that would be negative.
If you forget the obvious paradox, ignore the critics and see the film for yourselves…The Force is strong and the magic of the cinema is back – back to 1977!
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