Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★½

"It's time to let old things die"

Kylo Ren there, architect of cancel culture.

Actually, you could argue that Ren's desire to mercilessly sweep clean the past and the hold it has upon him, is echoed by Rian Johnson's commendable desire to strike out into a somewhat new direction for the franchise. I say commendable, but we all know that die hard Star Wars fans saw it as anything but. It could have been easy to just play this second instalment as safe as the first and, just as that had followed the beats of A New Hope, simply echo the plot line and highpoint of The Empire Strikes Back. At first glance, you feel that is what we are actually getting, with Rey training under a mercurial and somewhat crotchety old Jedi in some remote spot feeling like a retread of Luke and Yoda. But Johnson wants to do more with this opportunity than simply pay homage to the past (though he still does his fair share of that) and I personally like his refusal to make Rey something incredibly important in the fabric of the franchise, and the introduction of great new characters such as Rose, played beautifully by Kelly Marie Tran.

Admittedly on this rewatch I found the length of the thing problematic, with the whole casino escapade feeling like filler. But what I will say is the narrative progression of this is much better, because its not just playing the hits like The Force Awakens did, meaning that by the time we've reached the exciting final reel, you genuinely feel like you are engrossed in the story rather than simply enjoying nostalgia. And we can't mention that final reel without saying how much Mark Hamill dominates this entire movie. What a presence, it really is great to see him back.

Speaking of the casino, it can't just be me who thinks that in that introductory Wings-inspired tracking shot of the gaming tables, there's a deliberate Doctor Who reference? Look at the diminutive, bald yet bushy eyevrowed alien celebrating his win. That's surely the humanoid form of the Collector taken by a Usurian in the 1977 story The Sun Makers? A casino woukd be the perfect place for such a capitalist monster. If that's not a deliberate inclusion from the anglophile Johnson (who cast Ade Edmondson because he's a fan of The Young Ones - and I'm sure Fin and Rose's getaway scene and the cry of 'Cliff!' as they approach a precipice is a cheeky nod to the sitcom too) then it's definitely one from the backroom boys.

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