Film & TV

Film Review Episode One: Star Wars – The Last Jedi

So you may have heard about this little thing called Star Wars and the recent instalment The Last Jedi. With a wide range of different opinions and reviews, we thought it best to ask what our Quench contributors had to say about the galaxy far, far away… (oh and there’s spoilers ahead)

Star Wars has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have carried it with me from my childhood right up to my twenties, and my excitement for it has never once waned.

I mean, sure, the prequels were pretty terrible but Revenge of The Sith holds a special place in my heart and even the outright awfulness of The Phantom Menace couldn’t quell my anticipation for the sequel trilogy. In 2015, The Force Awakens was released and the world breathed a sigh of relief; here was a new Star Wars film and it was good! More than good, in fact. It was a loving homage to the original trilogy, brought back the easy humour of the first films, and established three new, wonderful leads in the shape of Rey, Finn, and Poe. All in all, JJ Abrams exceeded extremely high expectations and created a plethora of opportunities for the future of Star Wars.

The Last Jedi opened to a mixed bag of reactions. On the one hand, a great many people praised its ability to take risks and challenge traditional ideas within the Star Wars universe. Unfortunately, on the other, some dissatisfied fans, the racist and misogynistic types, took issue with the fact that many of the film’s leads are now non-white and, (the horror!) women.

Part of what makes The Last Jedi, however, are the story arcs of these characters, particularly that of Rose Tico. A maintenance worker in the Resistance, Rose embodies the heart of Star Wars; she is, much like Rey, a nobody. She works on pipes all day, but it is because of her belief in the Resistance, in the power of unity, that she becomes a hero. Her unwavering courage, her resilience, and her faith in others is what Star Wars is about. Hope. With Rose, The Last Jedi reminds us of just what it is that makes Star Wars so incredible: its ability to make heroes of the ordinary and to show that belief is really all that we need to fight on.

By Hannah Ryan / @_hannahryan

A long time ago in a childhood far, far away.

As I sat down to absorb the latest instalment of the Star Wars saga, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, I was both excited and apprehensive. The re-boot of the franchise, which began with The Force Awakens in 2015, has been attempting to steer the Star Wars brand into new territory and to help welcome in a new generation of fans across the world. Mr Johnson delivers a pacey, enigmatic film that has ticked every box expected of it for a blockbuster worthy of its name. But it’s still just not enough.

I wanted to be blown away by the special effects and the return of some of the saga’s most memorable faces, but I simply couldn’t do it. My adoration for the Star Wars universe comes from the wealth of character depth and the many locations used throughout each film which were unfortunately cast aside. Most characters in the film only moved location once or twice throughout and, apart from Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, there were very few instances where I cared about their fate. Carrie Fisher’s moments on-screen were, as expected, both joyous and sombre whilst little was done to move forward the stories of John Boyega’s ‘Finn’ or Oscar Isaac’s ‘Poe Dameron’.

The direction that the new trilogy is heading in isn’t unknown to fans, the plan is to gain a new generation of loyal franchise lovers and sacrifices must be made to adapt to the ever-changing world of cinema.  Mr Johnson is known for his elaborate and confusing plot lines which usually have an incredibly satisfying ‘lightbulb moments’ for the audience (2012’s Looper can testify to this). But this isn’t an indie standalone film and gambling the trilogy’s success on its 2019 showpiece in anticipation of the ‘lightbulb moment’ is a risk that Lucasfilm is clearly willing to take – even if they’ve upset fans along the way.

By Mark Wyatt / @markwyattsport

Rian Johnson made The Last Jedi truly his own. A lot of his creative decisions divided a lot of Star Wars fans.

The movie really plays with us about origins of Rey’s parents and with the whole Star Wars being based on big reveals and big questions; we were once wondering about that and now being told it no longer matters. Yet this is being ignored by fans, in thinking that the Force in Rey must have originated from someone important. I guess that most of the fanbase is disappointed as they were led to believe and speculate that Rey’s upbringing was an important part of the story and how it could create her link to the original story.

One of the most surprising things that Johnson did was, however, showing us new ways of the Force. No one suspected that projecting one’s appearance from one place to another could be possible. And yet Luke fooled his nephew and the audience by doing it. On the second viewing, a bright eye can spot that the Jedi Master does not leave red marks on the ground and appears to look younger – which led to Skywalker becoming one with the Force. No one certainly expected that Leia could be so powerful but we all knew that the princess always had Force in her. She could find Luke in the Cloud City and felt his and Han’s presence. But we didn’t know that she could fly like a Superman through space. And being exposed in space didn’t really left any permanent consequences?

The greatest asset of this episode is the well-written relationship on the Kylo and Rey line. Between the two sparks and the actors sensationally build tension around their heroes. Their conversations with the Force helped to develop their characters even more. Rian Johnson went in a different direction than Force Awakens would like you to believe. Now the big question is what J.J. Abrams will do.

By Agata Tylki / @agatatylki

As a child I never really got into the Star Wars trilogy, my family never introduced me to the force and for years I was left on the Dark side.

As I grew up I had passing experiences with the films and really began to enjoy them, so when I went to see The Last Jedi, I went with excitement to see what this new film was going to be like, however, I also lacked the blind loyalty of some of the lifelong fans. The film opens straight away with an intense battle and the rebellious hero, Poe, disobeys commands and in doing so completes his mission. This can be seen as a benchmark for the rest of the film, great but horrendously predictable.

I do understand that fans of Star Wars don’t necessarily go for surprise moments, however, I feel that maybe a couple of less obvious storylines could have helped the excitement of the film. The best moment indeed was a surprise as Kylo Ren, the lead antagonist, murders the superior Snoke in front of budding Jedi Ren. Ren is a pleasant release from all the heroics going on around him as he sticks to what he believes and continues his quest of eradicating the rebels, even if he kills Snoke in order to save Rey’s life.

Another pleasant addition is the character of master codebreaker DJ. DJ doesn’t take sides yet helps to create an effective part of the film by revealing there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people to Finn, following his destruction of a city of initially considered ‘bad people’ – this helps to broaden Finn’s character and also helps to drive the film onwards.

Despite all this apparent negativity I must admit that this was a great film with many heartfelt moments and wonderful battle scenes. My only true criticism coming with the script writing which again could tone down on some of the ‘cheesy’ phrases and inspirational quotes, which could have been written by a child. All in all I found Star Wars: The Last Jedi enjoyable and would highly recommend for anyone who wants to see fantastic imagery, an exciting storyline and wonderfully placed interjections of comic relief!

By Jack Vavasour

Having only watched Star Wars for the first time two years ago, my love affair with the franchise has been short and intense. The Last Jedi was the first film in the canon I saw in the cinema, and I had the kind of hopes I normally only reserve for new Marvel movies.

I loved every minute of it.

This is the movie where the sequels really start to hit their stride. Character development takes on a whole new level now the scene has been set, and I felt myself rooting for each of them in a way I hadn’t in The Force Awakens.

I love that we got to see a friendship/potential relationship between a black man and an Asian woman that was never about race, and a lot of toxic masculine behaviour (looking at you Poe) being challenged by the women. #progressivesinspace.

The battle between Rey, Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke was gold. I wanted Rey to join the Dark Side almost as much as I wanted Kylo Ren to turn to the good, just to see the two of them fighting side-by-side for a little bit longer. This is definitely a dynamic that I hope will be explored even further in the next instalment.

And finally, let’s talk about Luke and Leia. Luke Skywalker was undoubtedly the focus of this film, and Mark Hamill did his character’s final appearance justice. We got to see a flawed, ultimately afraid hero who has fallen from grace, and we saw him not only redeem himself but move on, finally at peace. It was a deservedly beautiful ending for a character who meant so much to so many people. And if we didn’t already know how much we were going to miss Carrie Fisher, we certainly do now. Her performance was stoic, strong and hopeful and her final scene with Luke was heart-breaking.

The Last Jedi is a thoroughly worthy addition to the Star Wars canon and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

By Abbie Rands

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second offering of the timeless saga’s “Sequel Trilogy” and represents somewhat of a departure from the saga’s cycle of Light Side – Good, Dark Side – Bad.

Instead, the film takes a step back and begs the question: what actually IS the Force? (Hint: it’s not those bloody Midichlorians that’s for sure). And whether or not the great battle between the light and dark side is as black and white as it seems?

Over 153 minutes, these questions are seemingly answered through a series of events that left me with more questions than answers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing by the way; it just serves to make me more excited about Episode IX and what lies in store for the Rebellion. Director Rian Johnson got this film right on so many levels: the storyline, the special effects, the humour (greatly lacking in the last film) and drastically improving most of the main characters.

This can be seen in Rey’s character who I felt had much more emotional clout than her role in The Force Awakens. Rian Johnson has also increased the late Carrie Fisher’s role in the franchise, with her character Leia going from Statesman to a battle-weary General; something I felt was one of the films strongest points. But I do have some gripes about the film and most of them fall upon Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron. My problem here is that throughout the film, Poe’s recklessness led to the deaths of many resistance members and it’s only near the end when he decides to exercise caution. This grated me quite a lot as many of the deaths seemed needless and only served to provide an action shot.  

Overall, I’d wholeheartedly approve of this film. The departure from the usual formula good versus evil is refreshing and has breathed new life into the franchise. Rian Johnson’s direction is superb in drawing out fantastic performances from Mark Hamill and Adam Driver respectively.

Don’t believe me? Watch it leading up to the Lightspeed Ramming sequence, easily one of the best scenes ever in my book.

By Murphy Truss / @flexmastermurph