Arguably the biggest release of the year, Star Wars: The Last Jedi requires Redbrick Film’s combined forces to be properly reviewed
Alex McDonald: Digital Editor
It’s better than Rogue One. It’s not as good as The Force Awakens. Ultimately, I found The Last Jedi to be disappointing for many a spoiler-filled reason, which I will lovingly spare you this Christmas time. Suffice it to say that the film is as littered with problems as it is littered with terrific moments. But sadly, great moments do not make for a great film. The main problem is the film’s narrative, which often labours to find its principal cast something to do. Once again, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron is largely wasted, Finn’s subplot is meandering and at times incredibly out of place, and BB-8 has been stripped of all personality in favour of being the comic relief. Poor pacing cripples the majority of the film and leads to an exhaustive third act which isn’t quite sure when to end. Yet, with all my doom and gloom out of the way, there is plenty to enjoy here and it makes for a mostly fun and entertaining ride. Mark Hamill turns in a great performance as an old, weary Luke Skywalker while Adam Driver stands head and shoulders above his companions as the best actor and most interesting character (Daisy Ridley’s Rey is dwarfed by his performance). And as mentioned before, there are some spectacular moments, interesting visuals and more intellectual nuance than I was perhaps expecting. Overall, I enjoyed The Last Jedi despite its many flaws, but it is by no means the great film I was hoping it would be. Here’s hoping Episode IX: He’s Not The Messiah, He’s a Very Naughty Boy sticks the landing.
Phoebe Christofi: Film Critic
‘Iconic’. ‘Mind blowing’. ‘Flabbergasting’. ‘Wow’. Some of the many ways that I could describe this new film in the Star Wars franchise, and none of them really seem to capture my exact feeling. The new chapter ties all of the unanswered questions from the previous film together beautifully, and even displays characters different perceptions to make both Rey and the audience try to discover for themselves the real truth. Without giving any spoilers away, I found Kylo Ren, portrayed by Adam Driver, absolutely fantastic. His character development was conflicting and completely in-depth, making you empathise with his situation, while also making you question his motives. Incorporating the old cast members with the new was both refreshing and balanced as Luke and Leia did not outshine Rey and Kylo, nor vice versa. Unlike the force between good and evil within Kylo, everything was in balance. Needless to say, I am full of anticipation for the next episode in the series, and will more than likely go back to the cinema to experience it all again.
Luis Freijo: Film Critic
I was afraid of the expectations with which I came to cinema to watch The Last Jedi. The director, Rian Johnson, had filmed Looper in 2012, an intelligent, dark, and bold mixture of sci-fi and neonoir, and I was hoping that he would do something similar with Star Wars: intelligent, dark, and bold. However, I was also fearing that it might turn out a shameless bluff like The Force Awakens. And, well, The Last Jedi was neither, but, fortunately, it stands closer to Looper. First and foremost, The Last Jedi is a highly enjoyable film, and that is what a Star Wars film should be. It’s both fun and funny, with spectacular fights, well inserted jokes, and (mostly) likeable characters. The script has achieved what The Force Awakens lacked: a certain degree of depth. For example, with the character of Poe Dameron, who is starting to evolve. Or with the development of the relationship between Rey and Kylo, the most unique contribution from this trilogy. Or the portrayal of some truly epic moments (especially those regarding Admiral Holdo). Or by allowing the natural presence of strong feminine characters, led by Leia. Whilst the subplot regarding Finn and Rose was artificial (and that character is starting to become annoying), but generally speaking it was a well written film. The best feature, however, is Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. He is a far better actor now than he was forty years ago, and he gives an absolutely excellent performance as a complex, traumatised, wise, and powerful Luke. I am sorry to all these new characters: Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher are still, and always will be, the pillars of this saga. May the Force be with them.
Todd Waugh Ambridge: Film Critic
Where The Force Awakens could be a nostalgia-fuelled fan-trip, The Last Jedi had to do something new in order to prove what the sequel trilogy was made of. Director Rian Johnson has absolutely done that, and we now know what ‘Disney Wars’ truly is… at best, mediocre. The film is split for its majority in to four sub-plots that separately follow Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren. It’s a clever structure that serves to build the new series’ leads in to more substantial characters, but it utterly fails. Each of character arcs have some interesting ideas – Luke Skywalker and Rey discuss the finer points of Jedi philosophy, Finn witnesses the commercialisation of war – but they ultimately hit a brick wall and are forgotten about. The final half-an-hour of the film is actually incredibly entertaining, but feels stapled on as if it was the third act of an entirely different movie. The key problem with The Last Jedi is its gaping plot holes that exist purely to drive the drama. Some may think pointing out these sort of problems is ‘nit-picky’, but it’s not. We can all suspend our disbelief for some jumps in Sci-Fi logic, but when Johnson (and Disney) asks you to believe in some frankly weird plot mechanics and character motivations in order to drive forwards a plot that ultimately goes nowhere, you’re left feeling rather short-changed. The characters are completely inconsistent, often withholding information from each other for no other reason than to drive the plot. Large swathes of the film could be removed entirely as they either end up going nowhere or serving no purpose to begin with. Going by the current consensus, I’m in the wrong here. And I’ll fully admit that when you put the writing to one side the film largely succeeds: the humour is on-form, the action is captivating, the effects (both digital and physical) are marvellous. However, as with The Force Awakens, after the hype has died down, many will realise the major problems that the gags and spectacle cleverly keep hidden.
Matt Taylor: Film Critic
Does The Last Jedi deliver? Largely, that’s an unequivocal yes, but it isn’t perfect. Its biggest success is the cast, all of whom, bar Benicio del Toro, are phenomenal. The standouts are absolutely Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley, with Ren and Rey being given the biggest story arcs here. The rest of the cast are not to be forgotten, even if there are some questionable character subplots. John Boyega’s Finn falls victim to one of these – as ever, Boyega is a joy, but his mission is where the film is weakest. When the scenes are with him, rather than Rey, Ren, or Leia, things start to feel a little bloated. Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron suffers the same fate – a fantastic character, but some of his subplot feels like it’s only there to give him something to do. With the exception of Benicio del Toro’s frankly weird hacker, the rest of the cast and characters are exceptional – Mark Hamill makes a solid return as Luke, and Carrie Fisher is as wonderful as ever as Leia (stick around for the credits for a lovely tribute). The film also looks gorgeous. Johnson has an incredible eye for cinematography, and the result is one of the best-looking films of the year. His use of colour is remarkable, as scenes on Ahch-To and Crait will show, and he directs action like no other Star Wars director before him. Sadly, there are weaker components of the film. As I mentioned earlier, it’s too long – the second act in particular feels bloated, as we’re left wanting to cut back to the First Order, or Rey and Luke, and while these specific scenes do pay off by the film’s end, we have to wonder if it was worth it. The Last Jedi also has an issue with death – surprising, given the amount of death that does occur over the film’s 152-minute runtime. No spoilers here, but two (admittedly memorable) scenes feel … cheap, and the otherwise grand emotion built up during them is undercut by what follows. There’s also some surprising fridging that occurs in the third act – something I never thought we would see in a modern blockbuster from a director and studio as smart as they are. It’s a shame, as these last two mar what is otherwise an excellent and emotional film, and a truly worthy Star Wars sequel the likes of which haven’t been seen since The Empire Strikes Back.