Two years on from the triumphant return of Star Wars in the form of The Force Awakens, we have finally been graced with the continuation of the saga, with the hotly anticipated The Last Jedi following on almost immediately where The Force Awakens ended. People have been theorising about this film from the moment the previous one finished, with countless ideas as to what would be revealed. Would we learn of Rey’s true parentage? Would she turn to the Dark Side? What would become of Finn? How would the film handle the return of Luke and would he and Leia be reunited?
I dare say this film did not play out in the way I expected and it was ultimately a smaller film in scope than The Force Awakens. It’s very intense, what with the Resistance fleeing a large, aggressive First Order Force and being constantly under threat. From the moment the movie starts the Resistance is under attack by vengeful First Order warships that seek to avenge the loss of Starkiller Base.
Rey and Luke play out their own story, with Rey desperate to understand the Force and Luke, bitter from his past experiences, reluctant to help her. Eventually circumstances lead Rey back to the Resistance, just as their light is about to be snuffed out for good.
Rey and Kylo Ren have quite a few ‘one-on-one’ conversations via the Force, which reveal the anguish both characters are going through. They are both yearning to belong, with Rey seeking to learn of her parents and discover who she really is, and Ren trying to throw off the shackles of his family.
What’s quite fascinating is that, whereas the original and prequel trilogies span several years, this new trilogy spans, from the beginning of The Force Awakens to the end of The Last Jedi, no more than a week by my reckoning. It remains to be seen if Episode IX will follow this trend, however so far, the scope of the sequel trilogy could best be described as ‘intimate’. This is certainly a theme present in the relationships, with Finn and Rose partnered up to try and take care a tricky mission, Luke attempting to teach Rey and Rey and Ren emotionally sparring. What with the limited setting (the film feels quite claustrophobic at times), this all sets up a story that is full of heart.
There are plenty of surprises. Leia reveals the extent of her own Force abilities in spectacular fashion, Ren unveils a ruthless side and more than one character dies rather unexpectedly.
The Last Jedi is not perfect. There are several scenes on a casino planet that feel somewhat shoehorned into the movie, as though the writers weren’t sure what to do with Finn and Rose. Gwendoline Christie steals every scene she’s in as the villainous Captain Phasma, but she is criminally underused. In respect of both these elements, I would have loved to have seen things done differently. Despite this, The Last Jedi manages to be somehow small and yet dramatic at the same time, demonstrating a very different nature to The Force Awakens. There are some incredible battle sequences, that I am keen to see again, whilst the film’s ending leaves all sorts of possibilities open for how Episode IX will go.