The Last Jedi makes it clear how much nostalgia can cover over “the cracks.” The Force Awakens was a great movie. Very exciting, thrilling and welcome return to a franchise that was in desperate need of some quality. While watching The Last Jedi, you can’t help but feel that maybe the joy of seeing old favourites and revisiting a world which is so loved made up for a lack of depth that the newest instalment can’t hide.
The Last Jedi isn’t a bad movie. Far from it. It is an exciting spectacle and has some very cool moments which will make any Star Wars fan-boy excited. The opening sequence which involves the rebellion taking on a First Order Dreadnought brings the space battles back to the franchise in a big way and strengthens Oscar Isaac’s character of Poe Dameron even further.
The same can be said for the return of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker too. The moment which follows from the end of The Force Awakens, a moment which had audiences cursing the credits, is a great piece of character comedy and seeing the original series’ hero back in full glory pulls at that nostalgia chord again.
It is also great to see Adam Driver return as the petulant Kylo Ren and a more beefed-up role for Andy Serkis’ computer generated Lord Snoke. The villains suitably chew the scenery here and you can’t wait for the moment when the heroes will finally face-off against the villains in a lightsaber duel.
But wait you will. This is where The Last Jedi’s weaknesses begin to show. It is a simple story, with the usual hunt for a MacGuffin while newest hero Rey trains with The Last Jedi, but seems to be made over-complicated and over-blown for the sake of it. A whole sub-plot involving John Boyega’s Finn and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran is sweet and has some cool moments but ultimately goes nowhere and feels very pointless.
You could excuse this filler if the rest of the story’s potential fulfilled itself. From the moment Hamill’s Skywalker was teased at the end of The Force Awakens, audiences were clambering to see the Jedi brandish his lightsaber and save the day but what they will get instead is a slow first act, a frustrating second act and a finale which doesn’t live-up to expectations or really do the build-up and legend of the character justice.
As for lightsaber fights in general, this is where The Last Jedi is sorely lacking. There are moments involving the iconic weapon but anyone looking for a blistering duel will be sorely disappointed. This is particularly annoying when it feels there are plenty of chances for the film to deliver on this.
It just adds to the growing sense of deflation that The Last Jedi brings. It isn’t a bad movie by any stretch and has a lot of moments which will make people smile. Unfortunately it doesn’t have any of the magic or wonder that makes the series to special. It feels like a pedestrian science-fiction movie and that is something which Star Wars should never succumb to.
You can’t fault director Rian Johnson though as this is a different type of Star Wars and one which tries to deliver a completely original story. It just may be that as Johnson tried something new, he lost some of the Star Wars sparkle along the way.
Overall, The Last Jedi has a lot of potential and could well have been the greatest movie in the series if it had delivered on the moments it builds to. A lack of lightsabers, a lack of iconic moments and a lack of bad-ass Luke Skywalker make this feel like a missed opportunity. The Last Jedi isn’t bad… it just isn’t amazing!
Rating – 3
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)