Words by Lizzie Derry
(*Minor spoiler alert*)
Ok, so I’m going to start this review with a confession…one which may instantly stop you reading with an angry scowl etched onto your face. I have only ever seen one other Star Wars movie – ‘A New Hope’, which I believe is no. 4 in the series, but also confusingly the first one….
People say you either love Star Wars or you hate it. I’m going to ignite frustration and say I disagree.
I did enjoy no. 4/1, but I’m not sure it became part of my soul in the way that true fans talk about it. Like the very concept is a religion. A highly exclusive club that you must never question in order to gain membership. Yep, it seems with true stars wars fans there are no half measures. So this review is more for the people who sit on the fence, perhaps more from a perspective of seeing this movie in isolation rather than a highly integral part of the series, and from that perspective, I absolutely loved it!
Setting The Scene
Let’s start with the basics – the welcoming variety of settings. One thing that often puts me off ‘space movies’ is that the scenery doesn’t seem to vary enough. You are in a spaceship, it’s dark with lots of little electrical dots, or you’re in space on a planet, it’s dark, with lots of little glowing dots… The Last Jedi however, is very refreshing in its deviance from this.
Of course, we do have both the resistance spaceship and Kylo Ren’s spaceship which are both unsurprisingly set in space, but then we also have Ahch-To Island inhabited by Luke Skywalker and the uninvited Rey, which is filmed on Skellig Michael in Ireland. Adding to the mix we have the Monaco of space – Casino City Canto Bright, filmed in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Then finally the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA, as the setting of the epic final battle scene and home to a previous rebel base (Planet Crait). For me, this variety really helped maintain a visual interest in the movie and on some level, made it more relatable – particularly the scenes shot in Ireland.
Can We Get Into The Plot Though?
Onto the plot. I had a basic understanding of the more legendary characters so I pretty much knew who was on which side. However, even without this basic knowledge I think it would have been quite obvious what was going on, aided by visual symbolism and occasional recaps regarding Kylo Ren’s descent to the dark side. This made the movie seem much more inclusive and I thoroughly enjoyed the secondary storylines including the relationship forming between Rey and Kylo, the romance between Rose and Finn and the power struggle between Poe and Laia.
The plot culminated in an epic battle between good and evil, which although slightly predictable, thoroughly satiated the need for action and formed an integral part of any decent Star Wars film.
One thing I could not fault was the acting – and furthermore, the casting. There is not one character that I thought could have been better played by someone else. Particular favourites included Daisy Ridley as the very convincing and enthusiastic new Jedi Rey, Adam Driver as the tormented Kylo Ren and of course, Benicio del Toro (Puerto Rican Brad Pitt in my opinion) who was born to play DJ (subliminal messaging, standing for ‘Don’t Join’). I am also a big fan of Domhnall Gleeson; it took a good five minutes to trust my instinct and believe that it actually was him playing General Hux. He was largely responsible for arguably the most divisive element of the movie….the humour.
I can’t write this review without an assessment of the humour – the uncharacteristic feature of the movie, loved by some and hated by others. 6 hours ago, Vanity Fair published an article entitled ‘Just how seriously should we take this Star Wars: The Last Jedi Backlash’. The article touches on some interesting ideas including the impacts of fickle, internet fandom which more recent Star Wars films have fallen victim to (and which were a contributing factor in the Lucas/Star Wars divorce).
This is a dynamic, ever-changing environment where opinions become ‘fashionable’ and can be expressed with little need for intelligent justification. The inclusion of humour in the movie has been easy prey to this often hostile environment with one viewer claiming that every other line was a quip and that Luke Skywalker acted like he was in a Marvel movie.
Go Watch It!!
So to conclude, it has certainly not gone unnoticed that this movie seems to target a broader audience. One in which I myself would probably sit. To those who prefer to regard Star Wars as an exclusive, membership only club, this is clearly a very bad thing. However, to those fans I would have to say – lighten up! I just spent the last 10 minutes having a rather miserable time reading the latest reviews on film database IMDb. Which still ironically gives the movie a pretty healthy 7.9 rating. Comments range from ‘The death of Star Wars’ to ‘Absolute garbage’ to ‘Disney is the death star’. I kept scrolling down but couldn’t actually find positive comments…
When considering the acting, the effects, the general effort (and admittedly budget) that has gone into this movie, I find these comments a little confusing. Justification for the negativity includes the humour, the convoluted plot and a lack of emotional attachment to the previous films (from a particularly highly strung, possibly pre-menstrual fan). So I guess it would be wise to proceed with caution if you’re looking for genuine Star Wars authenticity. However, if you can look forward and change with the times, I think you’re in for a real treat and I for one left the cinema feeling some of ‘the force’ within me, and with an open mind, you will too.
I give it a strong 8.9/10. Now I’m off to watch the previous movies so I can join the club and become a real star bore…
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