Jan 2, 2018

Review: THE LAST JEDI (dir. Johnson)


'At the close of Star Wars The Force Awakens, J J Abrams giddy, good-humored reboot of Lucas’s original saga, one could be forgiven some trepidation as the narrative reins were handed over from Harrison’s Ford’s Han Solo — always the saga’s most charismatic character with with his lop-sided grin and grumbling asides  — to Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, it’s most chipper and anodyne, the closest the galaxy had to a Walton. The first bit of good news relayed by Star Wars: The Last Jedi is that Luke has had the stuffing knocked out of him. Grizzled and grey-bearded, he has turned his back on the Jedi and is now holed up on his island hideaway like Ben Kenobi in the first film,  at first refusing to train Rey (Daisy Ridley) in her fight against the evil First Order. “It’s time for the Jedi to end,” he says, one of many calls to forget the past in a film in which everyone seems hell-bent on disinterring their legacy and cutting loose from their legend. There are more flashbacks in this movie than all the others combined. Rey still doesn’t know who her parents are, while Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the Sith warrior with the inferiority complex, is grappling with his own recent ventures into parricide. “Let the past die,” he implores her. “The Sith, the rebels, let it all die.”  Fat chance. Soon Luke is training Rey in the way of The Force, which are much as they always were — granting powers of telekinesis, mind control and a sudden, intense interest in natural fabrics — but now with one important new feature, allowing Rey to establish direct long-distance mind-to-mind communication with Kylo Ren. Think of it as the Force’s answer to texting. Soon they are at it like teenagers. “I feel the conflict in you,” insists Rey, like Jane Eyre before her, thinking she can turn the bad boy good. “You’ll turn. I’ll help you.”  The light sabres are not the only thing giving off extra heat these days. With his long gaunt features and Byronic mien, Adam Driver has now grown into the closest the series has to a Mr Rochester: mad, bad and dangerous to know. The subtitle of this movie ought to have been Inter-Galactic Bad Boys and the Women Who Love Them. I only wish Johnson had pushed if further. There’s one great scene where they briefly join forces and slay a roomful of Snoke’s lieutenants that is just crying out for a climactic, blood-drenched kiss. How Johnson fluffed that opportunity I will never know.' — from my Sunday Times review

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