STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (12)
D: Rian Johnson
Disney/Lucasfilm (Kathleen Kennedy & Ram Bergman)
USA 🇺🇸 2017
W: Rian Johnson [based on characters created by George Lucas]
DP: Steve Yedlin
Ed: Bob Ducsay
Mus: John Williams
PD: Rick Heinrichs
Daisy Ridley (Rey), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Gen. Leia Organa), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Andy Serkis (Snoke), Domnhall Gleason (Gen. Hux), Laura Dern (Vice Adm. Holdo), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose)
The 8th episode to the Star Wars saga is, like the other films in the series, rather critic-proof. As someone who enjoyed The Force Awakens, I was expecting more of the same from The Last Jedi, but unfortunately I left the cinema quite disappointed.
It's quite obvious that, with Disney's involvement in the Star Wars movies, studio executives are calling more shots than the director, and focus is more on diverse, inclusive characters and cast members rather than storytelling.
At 2 & a half hours long, this is the longest Star Wars movie, but it doesn't need to be, and 45 minutes could have been trimmed with the pointless characters and plot lines dropped to the cutting room floor without affecting the pacing or plot of the adventure at all.
The story continues on from the cliffhanger at the end of The Force Awakens. Rey has located Luke Skywalker's whereabouts and is tries to convince him to join the resistance and put an end to the war once and for all. Meanwhile, the empire have discovered a way to track rebel ships through light-speed and have a fleet of spaceships trapped, including one carrying General Leia Organa.
The story does shoot off in several directions from this point, with Poe Dameron planning a mutiny against his superiors for the sake of survival, whilst Finn and his fangirl go to the galaxy's equivalent of Monte Carlo, where they hope to find a master hacker who can break into the imperial fleet and give the rebels a chance to escape.
It's not possible to reveal any more of the plot without major spoilers, but one of the storylines has no resolution and seems only to have been introduced for the sake of new characters. Likewise with Rey's storyline, which includes new creatures called Porgs, who only exist so Disney can sell merchandise. They bring absolutely nothing to the story.
Another gripe is with the forced humour, which would feel more in place in a Marvel movie rather than Star Wars.
As for the good stuff, there are some epic lightsaber duels, some exhilarating space battles, an exciting and surprising cameo appearance from an iconic character and Kylo Ren develops into a much stronger nemesis. There's also a lot of unpredictability in the set up, making it difficult to determine if key characters will survive the episode.
It's a shame that to get to the good stuff, there's a lot of excess you have to endure.
While not as disappointing as The Phantom Menace, it is a weak episode to the Star Wars universe, and the enjoyment factor has proved to be very divisive and it all seems to depend on whether you're a Star Wars or a Disney fan. The worst thing about all this, by far, is the attitude of director Rian Johnson, who has actually taken to insulting SW fans who criticised the film on social media. What an arrogant douchebag.
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (12)
D: J.J. Abrams
Disney/Lucasfilm/Bad Robot (J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy & Michelle Rejwan)
W: J.J. Abrams & Chris Terrio [based on characters created by George Lucas]
DP: Dan Mindel
Ed: Maryann Brandon & Stefan Grube
Mus: John Williams
PD: Rick Carter & Kevin Jenkins
Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Ian McDiarmid (Darth Sidious)
Concluding a science fiction saga that has spanned over 40 years was never going to be an easy job, especially since Star Wars has such a huge fanbase and it was going to be impossible to please everyone, especially since the two preceding movies (The Force Awakens & The Last Jedi) had proved to be so divisive. Personally, I think it could have gone so much better if a planned storyline was decided from the outset, but the Disney executives decided that a different director helming each individual film of the sequel trilogy. This strategy worked for the original trilogy, though each film had a story which was penned by the original creator George Lucas.
I enjoyed The Force Awakens, but many fans didn't, complaining it was too similar to the original 1977 film, but when Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi went completely against the grain, even more fans didn't like that, so where exactly does the series stand?
The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams returns for The Rise Of Skywalker, with a plot that feels more like damage control and a selection of decisions made by the Disney corporation, and though it's as good as it probably could have been, the sequel trilogy as a whole has been disappointing, especially since the opportunity was missed to reunite original stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher on-screen again for one last hurrah.
Instead, this is all about Rey, who is given God-like Jedi powers with minimal effort and becomes the primary focus of the story, while other characters like Poe Dameron and Finn are relegated to background characters and comic relief.
As spoilt by trailer, the Emperor is also back for this one, a decision which makes Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader's journey in the original trilogy completely pointless, but it also casts aside the bad decisions that took the saga in a different direction in The Last Jedi.
With the emperor making his presence known, Rey and her companions go on a quest to find and destroy him, wIth Kylo Ren and the First Order standing in their way. There's cameo appearances from many legacy characters, but that's all they are. This is Rey's story now.
The adventure is as you'd expect, with top notch visual effects and some well-staged action, but the film never elevates to much more than safe fan appeasement penned by a conglomerate than a filmmaker's legitimate vision.
It's good enough, and that's fine, but after 42 years, "good enough" just isn't good enough.