Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi treads a very well-worn path: The First Order want to obliterate the Resistance out of existence, and the Resistance don’t really want that, and have to fight back.
If I said I was really excited about The Last Jedi prior to watching this, I’d be lying. I was disappointed with The Force Awakens. I did enjoy Rogue One, but obviously, we won’t be getting any more of their story. What was annoying me most before I saw it? That’s it’s so damn long. TFA could easily have had 30 mins cut out of its 135-min running time. This is 152 mins. Ridiculous. Still, at least it’s not Spider-Man or Wonder Woman, which were both long and mostly dull. Justice League was fun, though.
Next May (yes, not Christmas, surprislngly), in Solo, they’ve got the wrong guy playing Han Solo (should be Anthony Ingruber – see my review of The Age of Adaline where he plays a young Harrison Ford. He’s the spitting image!!! It’s so obvious!!!)
Anyhoo, back to Episode VIII, and while I’d set myself up for a potentially long slog, I was delightly surprised when there was a stack of humour in the first 1/3 to make me think I’d wandered into Carry On Star Wars – but such that it didn’t overdo it. Hence, I was reminded of the fun I’d had with Justice League, and here, the best scenes were the pairings I wasn’t expecting – General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) and his No.1, played by Adrian Edmondson. In fact, seeing the latter’s face early on made me chuckle, and with the humour that ensued and characters that felt a lot less po*-faced than expected, I thought I was in for a relatively quick 152 minutes (including end credits).
(*pun not intended)
But films are generally a three-act structure, and once Act 2 began, that’s where things changed.
Now, I won’t go into detail about anything you’ve not seen in the trailer, so if I didn’t know about it beforehand, I won’t give it unspoilered here. There are a few things I’ll mention later, but all behind a spoiler heading, giving my thoughts on those areas for those who’ve seen it.
We know from the end of The Force Awakens that Rey pops over to see Luke Skywalker and hand him that lightsaber, so it’s natural to assume, as does happen, that Rey, with Chewy, want Luke to head back with them and ‘get the band back together’ and fight the bad guys. Should he stay or should he go? What I can say is that you know he’ll be training her in the ways of the Jedi, the same as Obi-Wan taught him back in the day. However, while I figured this wasn’t going to be a quick section, it seemed to take BLOODY AGES!!!! It helps that it’s spaced** out (**another pun not intended) with the stuff that other characters are up to, but Jeez, this really is part of the 152 minutes that needed to be sliced, including one element of that which we saw at least three times!
However, at least we get to witness the fact that occasionally that place has weather that’s worse than Greater Manchester!
In addition, there’s lots of weird mind-force stuff going on, but if individuals can move people and items about at will, how come they can’t do the same for enemy spaceships coming at them?!
Oh, and I went to see this film in 2D, simply out of convenience. I saw the last two Star Wars movies in 3D, but since none of them were made in 3D, and that all the effect was done in post-production, you’re paying extra for nothing.
In addition, I see, like TFA, some of this is in 70mm IMAX, according to IMDB, but how much? And will we actually see it? Only one scene was shot that way last time (Finn and Rey first piloting the Millennium Falcon), and given what a tight-arse Disney was over the 70mm prints last time, that meant that the Manchester Printworks cinema didn’t get one, as only 3 prints went out across the entire UK! So I paid money in advance to see it, and just got the ‘cropped-to-1.90:1’ digital version. I wasn’t making that advance mistake this time, so just saw it in regular 2.35:1 widescreen.
And, in fact, I see the Printworks cinema only has this movie’s IMAX print in 3D, which means a digital version, as you don’t get 70mm IMAX in 3D.
Some of the humourous lines in the film included:
- Leia to a smart-ass Poe Dameron: “Get your head out of your cockpit!” (‘cockpit’ instead of ‘ass’, given the intonation)
- Rey: “If you see Finn before I do, tell him…”
Chewy ululates in the way that he always does
Rey: “Yes… tell him that.”
- Poe: “Permission to jump into an X-Wing and blow stuff up?”
Okay, so it was starting to feel a bit ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ at this point, but anyway…
However, as a film, it’s very much – let’s go here and do this, then we’ll go there and do that, and so on, and it all feels very disconnected. After the first act, it spends the next 100 minutes being a mixture of ‘seen it all before’ and an absolute mess.
I loved the interactions with Gleeson and Edmondson, but one thing I must add in this section, is how much General Leia’s character feels completely redundant, and so this does not feel like a fitting tribute, in any way, to Carrie Fisher. I don’t know how much of her Episode VIII scenes had been shot, so maybe they had to work around her untimely passing, but from a certain point in the film (and you’ll know it when you see it), it’s all just… unfinished.
Some people ask why I go to see some big films on their opening day. I say, watching it now means I avoid the idiots who post spoilers in big statuses on Facebook like, “Hey, at the end, Finn and Luke dress up as both ends of a pantomime unicorn to sneak into the Cantina Bar!” (that doesn’t happen, BTW)
And now 10 spoilery bits, so they’re hidden behind a spoiler section:
Running time: 152 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney
Cinema: Vue, Lowry, Salford Quays
Format: 2.39:1 (35 mm (Kodak Vision3 50D 5203, Vision3 250D 5207, Vision3 500T 5219), 65 mm (horizontal) (Kodak Vision3 50D 5203, Vision3 250D 5207, Vision3 500T 5219), Codex); 1.90:1 (some scenes: Digital IMAX version); 1.43:1 (some scenes: IMAX 70mm and Laser versions)
Released: December 14th 2017
Director: Rian Johnson
Producers: Ram Bergman and Kathleen Kennedy
Screenplay: Rian Johnson (based on characters created by George Lucas)
Music: John Williams
Rey: Daisy Ridley
Finn: John Boyega
Luke Skywalker: Mark Hamill
Kylo Ren: Adam Driver
Poe Dameron: Oscar Isaac
Rose Tico: Kelly Marie Tran
General Hux: Domhnall Gleeson
Leia: Carrie Fisher
Chewbacca: Joonas Suotamo
Hux’s No.1: Adrian Edmondson
Supreme Leader Snoke: Andy Serkis
Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo: Laura Dern
C-3PO: Anthony Daniels
Captain Phasma: Gwendoline Christie
Lieutenant Connix: Billie Lourd
Slowen Lo: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (voice)
DJ: Benicio Del Toro
Master Codebreaker: Justin Theroux
Maz Kanata: Lupita Nyong’o
Paige: Veronica Ngo
Resistance Fighter: Gareth Edwards
First Order Officer: Ralph Ineson
First Order Officer: Kate Dickie
Admiral Ackbar: Tim Rose
Prison Guard: Andy Nyman
And a couple of potential spoiler characters…
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.