The Rebels are on the run from the powerful First Order who have them fleeing for their lives. However, as the First Order cast a shadow over the galaxy, Ray (Daisy Ridley) travels to the first Jedi temple where Jedi Master, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), has sought solitude and he might be their only hope. Ray must convince Luke to assist the rebels in the fight against The First Order.
Nothing increases the anticipation quite like the iconic opening crawl (alongside the operatic John Williams theme) to a Star Wars movie. It’s refreshing to see since it was left out of Rogue One and the first twenty minutes more than match the hype and build up that led up to the film’s release. The first twenty minutes marks The Last Jedi’s opening as one of the finest of the series (matching that of The New Hope) with its genuinely thrilling dogfight where the rebel alliance daringly face-off against the full might of the First Order. And then the next two hours happen…and it’s a mess.
What makes The Last Jedi such a mess is that there are a million and one good bits and million and one bad bits. The scenes involving Luke Skywalker, Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are excellent as is the already mentioned opening dogfight but where the film fails is with its poor comedic timing and inability to deal with the majority of its villains. The film’s failures are most apparent when the poorly timed humour is combined awkwardly with its villains (did any of the villains from the original trilogy become the butt of so many poor jokes?).
Snoke (Andy Serkis) is the best villain (his untold backstory makes him more intriguing and frightening) but is underused. Kylo Ren is given great depth and almost the saving grace, but dragging the film down is General Hux who is the worst character since Jar Jar. Hux perhaps even surpasses Jar Jar as the worst character because the humour and Hux's incompetence is unsuited to such a character (at least it made sense for Jar Jar to be an annoying klutz). For someone in charge of an entire fleet he is a timid and weak character and Gleeson can’t do pantomime villainy in a way that’s convincing (he should learn from the great Alan Rickman).
At almost 150 minutes, The Last Jedi is the longest Star Wars film hitherto (The Force Awakens is a close second) and it feels it as certain bits of the film feel as though their only purpose is to add to an already inflated film. The whole animal liberation movement (in a city that greatly reassembles Monaco) may have an eventual payoff but at the time it felt an unnecessary and an unwanted distraction from proceedings.
The Last Jedi also feels like a film that thinks it’s risky but it isn’t as bold as it thinks it is. Too many deus ex machinas make it feel as though our heroes are never at risk as we can be safe in the knowledge that someone, somehow, will save them from the peril they find themselves in. Moments like this are peppered throughout the film and when it happens for the umpteenth time it just feels like a cheap product of lazy writing.
There is a good dynamic between Luke, Ray and Kylo Ren and Laura Dern has an immensely impressive cameo with a perfect payoff, but the film is only sporadically entertaining. It’s a Star Wars film that feels like a Marvel film (it’s certainly long as one) and whilst that’s not a bad thing per say it’s not what I want from a Star Wars film. Like many people, my reaction to the film is a very personal and subjective one and the reaction isn’t a positive one (making it only Star Wars film I didn’t like on first viewing).