Review: The Last Jedi will engage young audiences but disappoint Star Wars buffs
PUBLISHED: 09:04 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:04 22 January 2018
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, this much anticipated second instalment in the latest Star Wars trilogy follows on directly from 2015’s well received The Force Awakens.
While the resistance prepares for battle with the evil First Order, Daisy Ridley’s Rey begins to develop her new found abilities with the help of reluctant teacher and Jedi master Luke Skywalker.
As well as Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Oscar Issac also reprise their roles from the last film and Mark Hamill returns properly to the role of Skywalker after his brief cameo at the end of The Force Awakens.
The Last Jedi also marks the final performance of the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Visually the film is spectacular and Johnson must be commended for boldly attempting to take the franchise in new directions. However, few of those ideas actually work and he seems far too keen to dismiss the mythology of the franchise. Well developed story threads from the previous instalment get quickly discarded in a clear attempt to shed the film of any baggage.
A new style of wacky humour is also introduced and seems completely at odds with all that has come before it. In fact, the tone is more in keeping with the 1987 spoof Spaceballs.
The normally excellent Domhnall Gleeson is reduced to a bumbling buffoon, as his character General Hux flounders among the slapstick humour. A move which completely removes any sense of threat from the supposedly menacing First Order.
Despite this, many of the performances here are exceptional, Ridley and Hamill do their best with a disjointed script and some confusing character development and Adam Driver further enhances his reputation with a stand out turn as the conflicted Kylo Ren. However, in a film with far too many characters, many shoehorned in for brief appearances, John Boyega is completely sidelined in a convoluted and needless story arc upon a casino planet. The stop-start plot never flows freely and is drawn out for well over two hours before culminating in an admittedly dazzling final showdown.
The film has already proved divisive among fans and it will be interesting to see if this instalment stands the test of time like many of its predecessors. Overall, this is a visually striking film with some good performances, hindered by an overstuffed script and a style of humour that does not suit the story.
The Last Jedi will undoubtedly be a hit with younger audiences, but Johnson’s decision to dismiss previous films rather than embrace them will leave older Star Wars fans with sense of sad disappointment.