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Last night I went with a friend to see the much anticipated second film in the latest Star Wars trilogy, mysteriously sub-titled The Last Jedi. In typical Disney fashion, the secrets of this movie were on lockdown. Nobody knew what to expect other than what was fed to us by the posters, images, and trailers authorised for release by the studio. There was many a theory about what the posters signified, what the brief flashes of scenes in the trailers showed, many just wanting to know precisely what really was next in store for the Skywalker saga. I will note once again at this point, that this is my review of the movie, I'm making the decision not to steer clear of spoilers as I will be touching upon scenes and moments that really caught my attention and made me go "WOW!" that are ultimately spoilers.
The film opens up with what some may consider a battle sequence, but is actually more a further slaughtering of the Resistance by the First Order. We're told that the Order has found the last base of the Resistance and is about to destroy it, with the remaining fighters preparing to flee for their lives. This gives us Poe Dameron as he engages a Dreadnought, taking out its defence canons so a bomber fleet can drop its payload and bring it down. From the get-go, it's obvious the film is extremely different in tone to Force Awakens in that it's all about the burning out of any hope that may be left that the war can be won against the Order. The majority of the bombing fleet is destroyed, with only one remaining, and given the opportunity to drop the payload and take out the Dreadnought. Sure, this moment gives a brief opportunity for celebration, but it's clear from the beginning that the Resistance are hideously outnumbered and outgunned, so the only hope we have is with the last remaining Jedi: Luke Skywalker.
This takes us to the island on which Rey found Luke at the end of Force Awakens, the opening scene for the pair in this movie being the final scene in the last movie, and showing Luke's first true reaction to Rey, which is to toss the lightsaber behind him and walk away. Again, we're shown that hope has been lost in what was possibly the only remaining beacon of hope the Resistance had. If Luke doesn't care anymore, then why should anyone else? The war is lost. The First Order has won. Dark has triumphed over Light. Over the course of their encounter, Rey is determined to convince Luke that he should train her to control and understand the Force she has experienced, and it also introduces us to those fucking Porgs. They present a few nice moments of comic relief, but whenever the focus is on them, they are actually quite annoying.
The first time we see Kylo again, he is receiving an almighty tongue-lashing from Snoke, being put in his place and told what an absolute and conflicted failure he really is. This compels Ren to go out and do what he must in attacking the fleeing Resistance ship on which his mother, General Leia Organa is currently leading the last remaining fighters. As Ren takes aim at the ship, knowing exactly that it will kill her, his internal conflict stops him once more, but another First Order pilot alongside him takes the shot, killing her in the process... or so we think. Just to go back briefly to the tongue-lashing Ren received from Snoke that led him to that moment, I honestly found Snoke to be a legitimately intimidating presence in this scene. Although he's entirely CGI, he looked real, he looked threatening, and he looked like he could bring down anyone he wanted with the mere twitch of a finger. His throne room and guards are ominous. This is very much a man you don't fuck with, and I thought it set the tone for the First Order perfectly. Back to the Leia thing. It was shocking initially to see her pulled out of the ship and into space by the explosion, but I was expecting her to die based on the fact that Carrie Fisher has unfortunately passed away, so it was a massive surprise to see Leia use the Force herself to draw her back to the ship and ultimately survive. I'm conflicted about this scene. It gave us a great moment to see Leia survive her fucking ship exploding, then flying through space and coming back to life, but what now? How will they deal with this in the final film in the trilogy now that Fisher is no longer with us?
That casino scene can fuck off. Fun moments sure, and it's great to see John Boyega in anything, but I hated that entire story, but I knew that ultimately without it other things wouldn't have happened. FUCKING YODA!!! I can't imagine I was the only one who whispered "Holy Shit" at the first sight of Yoda, let alone the whole scene between him and Luke being just amazing. Oh, and I love, love, love the fact that they didn't do CGI Yoday, but actually used the look from the original trilogy. It gave the film a true Star Wars feel which was just fantastic, and hearing that Rey was essentially the future of the Jedi? Well, I'd have been more surprised if he'd have told us that space bears shit in space woods, but still an incredible scene nonetheless. The one true wow moment for me, though, was the light speed jump of the Resistance ship into and through Snoke's ship splitting it in half and virtually destroying every other smaller First Order ship around it. Visually is was just spectacular, a really shocking moment that just gave me goosebumps. And finally, Luke. Luke dying is a bit of sadness, but honestly, it was necessary in the context of the story as a whole. This truly allows the new generation to take the helm of the series and the story so that we can really enjoy something truly unique in the third instalment. He was great in this, and it'll be sad to see Hamill gone from the series, but we all knew it was inevitable in the end.
Big shout out to Adam Driver's acting in the Kylo Ren character. I'm not a massive fan of him in the role, but he truly sells it perfectly. The internal conflict that we hear so much about is perfectly shown in his small actions and facial expressions. Nobody else would have been able to pull that off but him, and while he's not necessarily an intimidating figure in the film, he gives us precisely what the character represents, and that's conflict within.
Great movie. It was tonally different from Force Awakens in that it was less about hope and more about a desperate struggle for survival. All the acting was top notch, visual effects were stunning, and the story kept a good pace throughout. I don't get the negative fan reaction that seems to be taking place against The Last Jedi, because I honestly found it to be the best film of the franchise.