The second in a trilogy of films is always a tricky spot - carrying a huge responsibility of progressing the film while not just feeling like filler or a giant setup for the finale. Does Star Wars: The Last Jedi fall into any of these traps?
In three words - enjoyable, but uninspired.
The reviews saying this was “better than Empire Strikes Back” have left me utterly baffled, wondering whether we watched the same film, or whether their 3D glasses came with additional rose-tinted lenses. But don't get it twisted - this film is thoroughly enjoyable.
Let me pause from taking my fanboy pedestal and heap some truly deserved praise on it. If your criticism of The Force Awakens was something along the lines of “they’ve simply redone A New Hope,” allow me to put your fears to rest by saying Disney and Rian Johnson have listened to you.
They took this story in a new and refreshing direction, which introduces a change of pace into the Star Wars saga that kept both casual moviegoers and hardcore fans engaged (hell, even my girlfriend who looks down on my fandom with a sense of sympathy enjoyed it). But that doesn’t mean they aren’t self-aware of your expectations - prepare for a few chuckle worthy callbacks to Empire Strikes Back.
Now, the rant portion. It took me a long time to process this film after watching. Two sleeps later, the obvious criticism was apparent - the Marvel complexities are strong with this one…
By that, I mean it’s too long and they’ve tried to cram far too many story lines into one film. The final act felt like five false finishes in rapid succession because of it, whereas the overall product would have been much smoother to digest with the excess trimmed off and a key focus on two or three specific stories.
And my main gripe comes at the expense of Rian’s aforementioned desire to take the saga in a refreshingly new direction. You see (and I will delicately word this in a way that doesn’t spoil anything), through trying to keep a wide birth of the old trilogy plot line, they stumble across something so bambooozlingly beautiful - a near-Shakespearean level of character development blended with meta that opens up a whole new dimension of morality in the Star Wars universe that blew my mind.
In this fleeting moment, the human psyche was shown in an honest light, as the writers start to play with the fabric that keeps this world together.
But then, they bail.
Just as things were really heating up, bravely throwing everything we thought we knew about Star Wars into question, they settle back into what was the enjoyable status quo and move right along.
This left me with an unfinished taste, like receiving a cone of chips without salt & vinegar or sharing Celebrations with the family - having your tastebuds blessed with a surprise Galaxy Truffle, but discovering they’ve left you with all the Bountys thereafter. It was a perfectly enjoyable box with an incredible climax, which petered out thereafter. Yes, I’m comparing Star Wars: The Last Jedi to a box of Celebrations.
One thing I can guarantee is you will have fun. The Last Jedi is everything it needs to be in a continuation of the storyline - bringing in new ideas while keeping to the routes of just being a bloody good sci-fi film. Just don’t expect to have your socks blown off. 8.5/10
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I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.