The Last Jedi is a marvellous movie managing to surprise and thrill while also channelling the spirit of the original trilogy.
Picking up almost immediately after The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi tells the story of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and their ongoing battle against the evil forces of the First Order.
The First Order, led by the sinister Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his servants Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), seek to snuff out the troublesome Resistance and cement their grip on the galaxy following the destruction of The Republic.
If you think that plot synopsis was rather brief that’s because I’m trying my hardest not to spoil anything in the film, and also because the kind people over at Disney have said they’ll break my legs if I do.
George Lucas once said: ‘it’s like poetry, it rhymes’ when discussing the cyclical nature of the Star Wars universe.
Well, if that’s the case then The Last Jedi breaks the wheel leaving us with something that’s recognisably Star Wars, but completely different at the same time.
Of course, it’s difficult to talk about this film without looking back on that cycle and comparing it to its spiritual predecessor The Empire Strikes Back, a movie long considered the greatest in the saga.
Thankfully, The Last Jedi lives up to its legacy and while I’m not quite ready to say it’s better than Empire I can say they’re comparable in the way they elevate their individual trilogies.
While The Force Awakens played it safe and essentially retrod the same ground A New Hope did 38 years earlier, The Last Jedi isn’t afraid to take risks and it pays off ten times over.
It’s exciting and exhilarating with so many twists and turns that it’s impossible to predict what will happen next.
There were moments in the film where I felt like I’d been shot by a blaster, I was that stunned. It was simply incredible and from the moment John William’s classic score began to the final credits I couldn’t stop smiling.
Most importantly though while this movie isn’t afraid to be different it manages to retain the indescribable Star Wars spark that makes this fictional universe so compelling.
If there were any criticism of the film I could make it would be that it’s very long, and while it zipped along at lightspeed for a Star Wars fan like me, I can imagine some people may get bored before the end.
Some plot threads are also cut brutally short, but as they serve a thematic purpose I was willing to let them go even though I’m sure a less charitable critic wouldn’t.
The principal cast is all on top form, with Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver being the standouts as two lost young people desperately unsure of their place in the universe.
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Meanwhile, newcomer Kelly Marie Tran is superb as Rose, a vulnerable girl who finds herself overwhelmed by a galaxy full of living legends and has brilliant chemistry with John Boyega.
Best of all Oscar Isacc’s Poe Dameron is finally given something to do, fleshing out the character who was so underserved by The Force Awakens and Isaac manages to give Poe a vulnerability not there in the first film.
One major disappointment, however, is the lack of interaction between the main cast who – for plot reasons we won’t go into – become separated very early on.
The dynamic between Rey and Finn was one of the strongest elements in the first film and it’s a shame we don’t get more of it here.
However, it’s more than made up for by the inclusion of Mark Hamill who plays a grizzled Luke Skywalker who’s not quite the hero you may remember.
Rather poignantly the film is dedicated to the late Carrie Fisher and her final performance is a masterclass; she oozes confidence, warmth and the film hammers home what a loss to the series and to fans her death truly was.
Carrie will be missed but this film is the perfect tribute to the Princess from Alderaan who saved the galaxy and Ms Fisher herself.
May the force be with you, always.