There are many people whose claims of fandom towards a particular movie franchise are worthy of our deepest suspicion. These are the types who use words like passion and obsession whenever they describe their relationship with a particular film/s and think nothing of dressing as their favourite character or speaking in a fictitious language. The problem is that it is often these so-called fans who seem to take great pride in attacking the very same films they claim to worship, whether it be taking aim at the director, the actors, particular characters, technical elements or plot developments, all the while claiming to love the very same cinematic universe upon whose most recent instalment they railed against. There has probably been no film series that has found itself subjected to as much scrutiny as the Star Wars saga. Needless to say, this latest instalment has found itself subject to the vitriolic rants of so-called fans decrying myriad elements of the film, with some demanding that The Last Jedi be removed from the Star Wars canon and an alternative episode VIII be offered up by Disney.
The only real problem with The Last Jedi, and with pretty much every Star Wars movie, is the ridiculous commentary that invariably follows by the nutty nerds who have nothing better to do than waffle on about how (insert directors name here) got it so wrong. It would not matter what the finished product looked like, these so-called fans would find something to complain about. With Star Wars: The Last Jedi, writer/director Rian Johnson has created something that is a perfectly acceptable and, for the most part, thoroughly enjoyable addition to the sci-fi series that, if the profits it has generated for Disney is any indication, will continue long into the future. Sure, there are some rather corny moments, but given the fantastical nature of the worlds in which the films are set, it seems kind of petty to fuss too much over these. Would the film be better without the much mocked moment that sees General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), having been sucked into space when her ship comes under attack from TIE Fighters, floating her way Peter Pan-like back to safety?. Perhaps, yes, but the intent was obvious enough in that it was to demonstrate the latent Force powers that Organa possesses. It was a clumsy attempt that looked initially to be a logical way of killing off the character in light of Fisher’s death last year, but the fact that she is miraculously resurrected does raise questions about how the character will ultimately exit the franchise.
There are a lot of unanswered questions that emerge from The Last Jedi, but that should hardly come as a surprise given that revealing too much leaves less to explore in future instalments. Much mystery remains around Rey (Daisy Ridley), her background and how she came to possess the Force but, as she was in her first appearance in The Force Awakens, Ridley balances the juxtapositions of her character with distinction and her casting has been a masterstroke in delivering a relatable character that services both the existing fan base and newcomers to this cinematic world. All the old favourites – Yoda, R2-D2, C-3PO and Chewbacca – appear at various times, with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) taking control of the First Order after a showdown with Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). However, it is the prominence of Luke Skywalker in proceedings (Mark Hamill) that sets The Last Jedi apart from its immediate predecessor, with the Jedi master living as a recluse on a remote island on the planet Ahch-To and not particularly enamoured by the arrival of Rey seeking tutelage in the ways of the Force.
As always, there is plenty of humour amidst the action and with an all-star cast that includes the likes of Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Gewendoline Christie, Justin Theroux, Adrian Edmondson and Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd, there is plenty to enjoy. This is the longest film in the franchise thus far and there are some scenes that do outstay their welcome, but overall Johnson has delivered something that resembles what we have come to expect from the characters and the world(s) in which they live and the ending has set up the next film as a classic underdog story as the small group of surviving Resistance fighters set about rebuilding.