So I decided to do my very first review on a film on my blog, as films are something that I have and always will love to watch. And there is no better film to start with than one a part of a franchise very close to my heart, Star Wars. WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Whilst I have seen, and fallen in love with the original trilogy several times, I am a child of the 21st century, therefore my Star Wars films were, the prequels… Now. Having grown up with George Lucas’ prequel trilogy, I’ll be the first to admit that I did not age around the best set of Star Wars films. Whilst Episode III, the Revenge of the Sith was actually a good film in my opinion, with Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor both playing their roles amazingly well, Episodes I and II left much to be desired to say the least. So when I found out that one of my favourite ever film series was returning for another trilogy, I was overjoyed. Another chance to write the wrongs of the prequel trilogy, and believe me there was a lot of them, whilst simultaneously expanding the Star Wars Universe.
So. On December 17th 2015, the world was reintroduced to the Star Wars franchise through Episode VII, ‘The Force Awakens’, of which I will now reference as ‘TFA’. But anyway. The stage was set. A new generation of actors mixed with the classics we fell in love with, a new villain, upgraded special effects! The film was extremely hyped, and successful for that matter. Generating around $2 billion worldwide. Now, I will admit that this film had its flaws. But overall I did enjoy TFA.
I think Harrison Ford was fantastic as Han Solo throughout, and was sad to see him leave the franchise. Whilst Carrie Fisher’s Leia felt slightly out of place in some parts, again she put up a solid performance. I was very disappointed that Mark Hamill’s one and only Luke Skywalker didn’t have a bigger role in the film, simply appearing at the end briefly and setting up for what would be The Last Jedi. But his presence was still felt, and it made me even more excited for the next film. Overall the old cast were very solid, and I enjoyed their presence in the film, linking past and present together. Onto the new, both Daisy Ridley and Jon Boyega gave throughout entertaining portrayals of Rey and Finn respectively. But two people I thought introduced themselves very well, were Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, and Oscar Isaac as the ace pilot Poe Dameron. Both Driver and Isaac played their characters fantastically, and were two characters I was excited to see again and hear more from. Introducing yourself into the universe of Star Wars is never easy, and practically all of thenew actors did it extremely well. The film’s special effects were incredible, and the plot was stable. Even if it did seem very similar to the original film, A New Hope.
Rogue One came out in between that and this film’s release, and was another film I thoroughly enjoyed. And no not just because Vader was back, even though his appearance heavily affected my judgement. But hey, that final scene was incredible.
Anyway. So now we have had two new films, and now onto the next. The Last Jedi. Episode 8 of the Star Wars franchise, and the continuation of TFA. Will this film answer the questions left in TFA? Who is Snoke? Rey’s parents? How did Luke fail Ben Solo, now only known as Kylo Ren? Etc. Will it be giving us an enjoyable Star Wars experience? Will it be better or worse than Episode VII? Well… It’s an interesting one for sure.
Now. Before I start talking about the aspects of this film I did not like as much, and delving deeper into the analysis, let’s get one thing straight. I enjoyed this film. I did. As for every film, or most anyway, it had its positives, and its negatives. Let’s start with what I enjoyed.
Similar to TFA, both Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac as Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron were again very good. Kylo Ren is a very well done character, and this continued in this film. He is simply a normal person that wants to live up to what his distant relative Darth Vader was. But he is human, and the film does very well at showing this. Has has his temperament issues, mental breakdowns and several, very human conversations with Rey. He wants to please his master, Snoke, and desires to be treated more than just a child hungry for greatness and power. Throghout the two hours or so you really feel all this. And this is both credit to Adam Driver and Rian Johnson for continuing this feeling on from TFA.
Oscar Isaac as Poe continues to play a good role within the film, and has a very solid and bigger arc in this film as well. He simply wants nothing more than for the First Order to fall, and whilst this sometimes clouds his judgement and decisions, you can always understand where he is coming from, and can’t help but root for the guy. He is almost the Han Solo of this trilogy, but in his own new, and brilliant way. His dynamic with Leia was good, Carrie Fisher plays a much bigger, and stronger role in this film. The opening scene hows several members of the resistance die because of a decision Poe makes, so you can see why Leia chooses to demote him. Once Leia goes into a coma, we’ll get to that, his relationsip with Holdo was a bit different, overall was not as strong and confused me to a point but as I said, we will get to that.
The visual effects in this film are phenomenal. Rian Johnson absolutely killed it and throughout this film you cannot helped but be mesmerised by the planets, ships, scenery etc. This really comes into light with what may be one of my favourite scenes in the film, where Vice Admiral Holdo, played by Laura Dern, activates her ship’s hyper-drive to fly through and split in half the First Order’s destroyer. The whole film goes dead quiet and on the whole left me stunned. It was a fantastic scene.
But my favourite arc in the film has to be the one between Luke and Rey. Most of her time is spent on the island with Luke, attempting to train and learn the ways of the force. Or at least that’s what she desires. On the other hand, Luke is attempting to show her why the Jedi are not what people thought they were, and why they therefore have to end. I loved this as it brought to the light whether or not the Jedi were actually the good guys. Arguably they ruled over everything, deciding what is best for them and making all decisions amongst themselves, like a strong dictatorship. So were they the heroes? Luke specifically says to Rey that the force does not belong to the Jedi and to say this is almost vanity. The force is a presence within the universe and all its beings and cannot and does not belong to anything or person in particular. Luke does not see himself as any type of hero. He tells Rey that he is not what everyone sees him as, and that he does not wish to be the great ‘Luke Skywalker’. Throughout the film you see Luke is a broken man. Ever since Ben Solo betrayed him, which is also explained in this film, you can see that he is clearly feels as though he failed himself, Ben and of course his sister Leia.
Yoda appearing also was wonderfully well done for me. The same Yoda that we saw fade away in the Return of the Jedi. He comes back and shows his power once again by both literally hitting Luke and setting the Jedi tree containing all the old Jedi texts (or so we think) on fire, laughing and telling Luke that they were nothing special. They were not as important as everyone thinks. ‘Page turners, they were not’ is the specific line he uses. He is trying to tell him that Rey is fine without the old texts and that for the Jedi to end, she must embrace and learn to use to force for herself and not make the same mistakes in commanding it like the Jedi once did. That Luke cannot fail Rey like he unfortunately lost Ben. The two watching the tree burn feels very sentimental and that it is indeed time for the Jedi to finally come to an end. Yoda is still teaching Luke lessons even now and that is what I always loved about him. His presence and strength is forever shaping the Star Wars universe.
Luke’s final scenes facing off against Kylo Ren was also fantastic. He comes down to the Salt Planet to fight Kylo Ren once and for all. He simply walks off about a hundred bullets and continues to walk towards him, before wielding his father’s blue lightsaber to face him. Before dodging a few attacks, both Kylo and the audience realise Luke is almost a hologram,. He is not there, but force projecting himself from the island, almost using all his final strength to buy the last few members of the resistance, including Rey to escape, plan, and finally bring the First Order down. The whole scene is beautiful and whilst it was sad to see Luke pass, it was his time to go, and his whole arc in this film is a brilliant end to the brilliant, one and only Luke Skywalker.
So whilst there was a fair bit of the film I enjoyed, there was unfortunately a fair bit of it that I was not so fond of, and when writing a review I cannot afford to simply say I loved it because it was Star Wars, even if I really want to. Let’s get into what perhaps I did not like as much.
To start, the humour. Now Star Wars films have never been one to shy away from including humour in the film, and I am all for including it within this franchise. However, in my honest opinion, I felt like the humour was overused within this film and whilst some of it landed, some really did not. Right from the beginning when Poe is on the comms with General Hux, he plays the old ‘Hello? Is anyone there?’ joke to stall. This told me that this was going to be a film that includes maybe too much humour. Now I didn’t hate this but I felt that perhaps it wasn’t necessarily needed.
Similarly at the start of the film when introducing Luke and Rey’s storyline on the island, Luke, when given the lightsaber that Rey held towards him at the end of TFA, simply takes it, before throwing it over his shoulder like it was nothing. Really? You’re telling me that this lightsaber, the one that belonged to his father, the same lightsaber that he has not seen since Vader cut his hand off and it went flying into the depths of Cloud City, the one that is now showing up three of four decades later and being given to him by some random girl of whom he has never seen before, he is not the least bit curious as to how she came to be in possession of it it or why it is showing up now? But no, apparently none of this applies. Let’s add the true Disney feel to the film and add humour whenever and wherever we can, regardless of its necessity. I could go on about the humour in the film and how for me a good amount of it didn’t land, but this review would be another 1500 words. It might still be that long with everything else I still need to mention.
Moving on. So we have a brilliant storyline in Luke and Rey and their relationship. But then we have Finn and Rose’s arc. So basically the resistance realise that they are being tracked through light speed, therefore Poe, Finn and Rose conjure up a plan to go down to this casino planet, find a hacker, sneak onto Snoke’s ship and hack the tracker to give the resistance time to fly away. In all honesty this arc was irrelevant and it wasted 30 minutes of the film that arguably made it all feel too long. I understand the messages behind all those scenes, animal cruelty, getting the children into the resistance etc. But overall it felt like a shoehorned in love story and a waste of John Boyega and what his charisma brings to the film as whole. Not a fan of their ‘love story’ and do not feel the whole rich boy casino planet was needed. The hacker that they found turned out to be quite irrelevant as well.
I am going to quote my favourite movie reviwer Jeremy Jahns (www.youtube.com/user/JeremyJahns), on this point, as he came up with a good alternative. ‘Since you have Rose, a character that no one really knows about, how about when Finn says “they’re tracking us through hyper space” etc, they can get the tech, Finn can get them there because he moppped the floors, and maybe Rose is actually a really good hacker. So let’s say Finn and Rose just go there and their arc instead of being on that casino planet, is actually in Snoke’s ship trying to be stealthy and running into some conflict’.
Check out both his spoiler free and spoiler reviews here –
(Spoiler Free review)
But moving on. What else didn’t I like? Well there is two characters in particular as well another story arc specficially I was not too impressed with either.
So which characters? Let’s start with an easy one. Two words. Captain Phasma. More like Mrs Irrelevant. So she comes back into the film in an impressive manner, capturing Finn before facing him in a ‘final showdown’. Well if you can even call it that. They have about a 5 minute face off before Phasma gets smacked in the face by Finn and falls to her death. Pointless end for a pointless character. Which is a shame because she could’ve been so much more…
But Phasma isn’t even the worst of the bunch. Let’s talk about Supreme Leader Snoke. Or can he even be considered a supreme leader anymore? Well he dies. Kylo Ren kills him with Luke (or Rey’s now I guess) blue lightsaber, severing him in half. Boom. Arguably the most theorised and mysterious character from the first film killed off. Just like that. WHY? WHAT WAS THE POINT IN HAVING HIM THEN? People were calling him to the new Emperor Palptine… NO. Palptine and his presence was always felt in the original trilogy, especially in the Return of the Jedi. Snoke had about three scenes in this film, felt really evil, but then just dies without even having one fight, or showing his true powers, minus a few force using here and there. In fact he you wont find him doing anything of true relevance. Why beg the questions and theories as to his origins and strengths in TFA if you just kill him off with a swift and in my honest opinion very weak death. Maybe you can blame the change in directors to want to take the film in different directions, but the point remains, Snoke should not have died. Shades of Boba Fett in, such a strong character, who had so much potential, to just die in a very silly way. Well at least Boba Fett did some things, capturing Solo in Episode V, appearing in Jaba’s palace in Episode VI, etc. Snoke literally appears once or twice in TFA, and three of four times in The Last Jedi, and doesn’t really do anything. What another waste of a character. He got well and truly, ‘Boba Fetted’.
I am going to be bringing this review to a close, as I am slowly approaching 3000 words… There is just one more little plot device that I wasn’t too keen on. So the whole idea behind how Luke Skywalker failing Kylo Ren is one I can get behind, but the way it was executed was not the best. The whole film kind of questioned how the events that led to Ben Solo becoming Kylo Ren, only being revealed towards the end. I actually really enjoyed this and thought the idea behind both Luke and Ben seeing each other as the ‘bad guy’ was very good. However when it was finally revealed that Luke, even for a split second, thought to kill Ben Solo through fear of what he was becoming was one I cannot get behind. Luke is a good guy and someone who I don’t believe would kill anyone unless for a good reason, he didn’t even want to kill Vader, or the Emperor, through fear of beginning down the road to the dark side. Therefore I do not believe that even for a second he would consider killing Ben Solo, not only due to the reason I just mentioned but because he is his Newphew for crying out loud. Do you not think he would consult Han or his SISTER Leia? Apparently not. It would’ve made more sense to talk to either or both of them or even to Ben as at that point? I don’t really understand this logic.
So there it is. I know it is hard to believe that I actually did enjoy this film, but I did. The acting was very solid from all of the cast. The special effects were very good. The storyline was solid. Just a few side stories and character wastes here and there that had to be addressed.
Overall it felt very different to any Star Wars film released so far. Some risks were taken and whilst some worked, some unfortunately did not in my opinion.