Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★★

Fulfilment. Enjoyment. And yet, a sense of questions unanswered. Seats sat on for too long, and unnecessary subplots (no matter how pretty the explosive escape/chase scenes, we're looking at you John Boyega).

Clocking in over 2hrs 30, THE LAST JEDI is nothing more than wish fulfilment for fans of the lightsaber-wielding, stoic (and mildly miserable/self-loathing) guardians of the galaxy. Wait, no, that's another film this year... THE LAST JEDI is full of excitement, gorgeous vistas on foreign planets that truly set the worldbuilding up to show 'this' is Star Wars. Barren salt worlds, truly alien oceans with exotic creatures, and gorgeously shot space battles that we literally have never seen portrayed on screen quite like this before. The way cameras intimately follow ships, the slow-motion and lack of soundtrack combined with explosive pacing in the opening sequence is more like 2017's DUNKIRK than STAR WARS.

This feels like a war film. And yet, it doesn't. For all the worldbuilding, the fan fulfilment, and the incredible plot line, we're yet again left with questions unanswered (and the way some threads are tied, ultimately they won't be answered in Episode 9, or the answers we got left a vulgar taste in the mouth). This is STAR WARS after all, and the Saga is about the Skywalkers. Never more has it been more so than in THE LAST JEDI, where character development and the focus on individuals is brought to the forefront. The vague perception of a 'wider galaxy' is still here floating in the background (and considering this is a galactic rebellion, it constantly confounds me how they never have more troops than the population of Sheffield and are always shuffling on the back foot, despite supposedly having power and support across hundreds of worlds), but the focus this time around is solely on about 10 characters and their individual arcs. This in turn makes the film more paced, more interesting as we're drawn into the individual woes and personal battles of each person, and yet it also creates a shield between the immediate story and the surrounding outside world.

As I said above, this is an incredible Star Wars film, with the strength focusing on the story of a handful of characters whilst portraying the wider world in a handful of cinematic styles and genres (such as certain scenes being shot like a fully-fledged WW2 film, not a space fantasy epic), but what we see of the wider world makes THE LAST JEDI feel smaller in itself. Gone are the scenes of The Republic, gone are the crowds, the cheering masses of Coruscant and the megalith armies of the clones. Gone is the feeling that the film belongs to a huge galaxy, and whilst there remains some sense of scale and worldbuilding, the gorgeous expansive b-roll in Star Wars that normally sets up the 'ignorant background galactic public' is forgone this time around for a smaller scope... For a story that is supposed to span a galaxy, it truly only follows Skywalker and friends, and we see just how lonely and small this Star Wars instalment truly is. But you know what? We're all the better for it.