Movie Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi

Along time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

Star Wars!

It is a period of new Star Wars movies.  Big budget films are being released, starring new characters and old characters, in a continuation of the Star Wars universe.

Watching the new movie in IMAX at the Telford Cineworld with one of my best friends; another huge Star Wars fan (and movies lover generally), I signed off what was a great weekend with great company with a great movie, before taking the train back to Stafford…

That’s a really geeky opening to a really geeky blog post on a geeky site!  I think I’ve outdone myself with that.

I’ve been waiting a long time to watch this.  As part of my weekend with Moni, the second and last trip before returning home was a visit to the cinema to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Obviously, you can tell from the blog name, and some of the hobby items, I am a huge Star Wars geek.  I’ve seen the all the films numerous times, and I could Empire Strikes Back as my absolute favourite movie of all time.

Given I have a tendency to prefer the second film of a trilogy (I like the darker, tone of a “second act”), I was really looking forward to this one.  Whereas I saw the Force Awakens twice, once with family shortly after release, and once on my own in an almost empty cinema, this time a I planned to see the movie with Moni, and the earliest we could get together was end of January.  I must admit it’s been tough to avoid spoilers but I did manage it, sadly there was no avoiding the negative vibes I was hearing.

Negative Reviews

First let me start by saying that I’m not going to throw in loads of spoilers for the movie in this post.  After spending as long as I have trying to avoid them, I didn’t want to be the one who could ruin the movie for others.  Secondly, I will make it clear I actually really enjoyed the movie.  There were some characters who were different to what I’d expected, and although I don’t share their views, I can understand why some people may have been disappointed with a few character decisions.

I haven’t read all the negativity, but afterwards, Moni told me most of the negativity she’d heard were about one character being “out of character” and another being disappointment in the uncovering of a particular characters back story.  I can kind of understand the first, as one character wasn’t what I envisaged, but the second I think is more that people were annoyed at having their theories quashed.  Personally I found the subversion of this expectation quite delicious; but I also have a suspicion that maybe there’s still more to it than we know.

Would I change the way the character who has been getting all the flack was written? Yes.  I suppose I would have.  Do I understand what they were going for with them? Not entirely.  Did that ruin the movie for me? Absolutely not!

My View of the Movie

The movie is filled with stunning visuals as we’d come to expect from a Star Wars movie, along with plenty of drama, and humour.  Music is superb as always.  Once or twice, the humour admittedly fell flat for me.  Three particular moments spring to mind that didn’t work for me, but I won’t repeat them here for fear of spoilers, but everything else  raised a smile or a laugh from me.  Those three moments however did briefly take me out of the movie for a moment, but other than those, I did quite like the humour even if it did occasionally run a little close to the line between funny and parody.

I did start to get a little emotional at two points in the movie, which is probably the first time a Star Wars movie really got to me that much in that way before.  I think it might have been the contacts making my eyes water haha.

The biggest criticism from me comes in the middle of the movie, where one of the main new young characters takes a sort of side trip off on a little quest of their own; I didn’t feel it added to the story particularly and it felt to me more like it was forced in to give the character something to do.  It’s a shame, as I think it would have been more interesting to have the character doing something different and more in relation to the main story – I couldn’t quite see what it added to the movie beyond a distraction, and I think it add to the running time without adding to the story.  Maybe once I’ve watched it again, this section won’t bother me so much.  I read an article after watching the movie that this section of the film was “a bit too prequel”, too much CGI, and not enough of the real looking physicality of the original “used Galaxy” feel that the most recent two films managed to return too.

The pace of the movie didn’t feel quite as hectic to me compared Force Awakens, I think there was more a focus on developing some of the characters.  Moni didn’t agree that the pacing of the story was slower, but we both agreed we enjoyed it.  I like the echoes of the Original Trilogy, and that like the originals, there is a focus on a triumvirate of good heroes, and a conflicted big bad.

There were a number of things we saw in this movie that we’ve never seen in other Star Wars movies, and I felt although there was familiarity in the universe and most of the characters, it did feel to me like there was a conscious decision to try and move the Star Wars movies and the story forward.  This sometimes feels like it goes against the tone of the rich tapestry of the original films, but I think it’s important that everyone acknowledges that the Original Trilogy was incredible, but that going forward we need to start seeing  and feeling something different.  It’s funny to me that people complained that the Force Awakens was just A New Hope rehashed, and now people are complaining that things are a bit too different.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I guess in the days where anyone can start a blog and throw their opinions out onto the Internet (ala me haha), those who aren’t quite as happy can be more easily heard.  I guess Star Wars feels quite personal to many, and if ever a new movie missteps in a manner that some feel tarnishes their perception of the movies legacy, it can be disappointing.  It’s a very thin line to tread, and I can see how some may not have been as happy with this entry in the overall narrative, even though personally, I liked it.

Would I watch it again?

Yes!  I realise that’s hardly a surprising given I would always watch a Star Wars movie more than once, even if it was terrible, but I did genuinely enjoy the movie.

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