It’s that time of year again. Christmas? No. Time for a new Star Wars release! After the continuity-eschewing interlude of Rogue One, we’re back in the franchise’s main stable to catch up with the characters – old and new – launched and reinvigorated by 2015’s The Force Awakens. Of course, both are tough acts to follow and we’ve all been wondering how Rian Johnson‘s entry will fare.
Our Kambole celebrated The Last Jedi, dubbing it “the one we’ve been waiting for“, but also finding it “refreshingly idiosyncratic” and “revisionist in the way it takes a torch to our expectations of a Star Wars movie“. Will the rest of the team support his shining 5-star endorsement? The verdicts are in!
Carmen – 5/5
For a beloved franchise’s eighth instalment, The Last Jedi feels boldly irreverent towards the tales that came before – and it works. This visually stunning thrill-ride pauses only to delve into characters’ hearts and minds, deepening this familiar world. Rian Johnson imbues his scenarios and peoples with unforced social commentary; this cements the film’s effectiveness and immediacy not just a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but also on Earth in 2017. Underpinning everything are tremendous performances – Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver are standouts, while Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill powerfully honour their own legacy. Lastly (and importantly), the Porgs are perfect.
Ellen – 4/5
From the off, Star Wars hurtles at light speed, passing new characters, new worlds, new animals, old characters, plot turns, jokes, and shots of cinematic spectacle. It slows only briefly for moments of heartbreak (everything with Carrie Fisher) and wonder (the beautiful final stand). Despite multiple references to the previous films, it’s a different model to all those that have gone before. A film to inspire the next generation of Star Wars fans. But perhaps, somewhere in its relentless pace and slick twists, a bit of the old, clunky yet charming adventure now feels truly left behind.
Jack – 5/5
Having seen The Last Jedi three times in one week, I feel I can safely say that this is 2017’s most downright entertaining film. Even on the third viewing I was never bored or impatient with it, and the most thrilling moments retained their deeply cathartic power. Rian Johnson stresses the human stakes at every moment, even as the scale becomes colossal, and at the same time gives us a series of unforgettable visuals and probably the best fight in Star Wars history. There are flaws here, but I was far too busy having fun to give them much thought.
Joni – 5/5
Despite all the time that characters spend reminding each other to breathe, The Last Jedi doesn’t exactly follow its own advice. Overstuffed, Jedi crams in character arcs like it’s the last plane out of Alderaan. Everyone gets a moment to shine, from the big damn heroes all the way down to the intergalactic hoi polloi. Yet nothing feels underdeveloped. The trick? Johnson trusts his audience, limiting time-wasting exposition and leaving us to figure out the details after the credits roll. The Last Jedi is textured, enthralling and perfectly balanced, introducing new tricks without ignoring the best of what came before.
Katy – 2/5
After an agonising two-year wait, it’s perhaps inevitable that The Last Jedi wouldn’t quite live up to expectations set as sky high as Cloud City. That isn’t to say that the scope and spectacle we’ve come to expect from the saga isn’t present – and the bittersweet joy of seeing Carrie Fisher as Leia one last time is something to be treasured. But the downfall (and it’s a critical one) lies in its characters. Favourites both old and new are maddeningly mischaracterised, and may leave some wondering if Rian Johnson actually bothered to watch any of the Star Wars movies that preceded his own.
Rhys – 4/5
I left my first showing of The Force Awakens elated. Leaving The Last Jedi, I was stunned. Rian Johnson’s tearing-up of the rulebook of what makes Star Wars “Star Wars” will spark debate and analysis for years. It’s packed with moments of giddy, fantastical immediacy to keep the inner 10 year-old agog, but its deft interplay of theme, motif, pastiche, and movie magic is a constantly-developing thing that I can still feel evolving in my mind. Some risks don’t land, but Last Jedi is daring blockbuster filmmaking that will grow in audience’s hearts and minds ad infinitum.
Louise – 4/5
The Last Jedi rips through its two hours and 30 minutes running time, not letting you catch your breath even for a moment. There are some genuinely poignant and spine-tingling moments with the beloved Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill does his very best to steal each of the scenes he appears in, but this film belongs to Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley. Not only do they command your attention throughout, but there’s also a fascinating chemistry between the two. In addition to this, Oscar Isaac has finally cemented himself as this generation’s Harrison Ford. Bring on Episode IX.
Sophie – 4/5
If The Force Awakens was a mirror held up to A New Hope, then The Last Jedi is the hammer smashing that mirror to pieces. Lulled into a false sense of security, The Last Jedi catapults us into the unknown at lightspeed, delighting in confounded expectations. Bold, brave, unapologetic, and filled with the passion and heart of its heroes, The Last Jedi takes us (to borrow from another franchise) where no man (or woman, or droid) has gone before. This is not Star Wars as we know it, and, oh, how very lucky that makes us.
Phil – 5/5
The Last Jedi isn’t just a great Star Wars movie, but a great movie about Star Wars: about its place in our shared culture and how – inevitably – it can’t stay the same forever. Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher give towering performances, but it’s clear that the torch has been well and truly passed to the new generation. Rian Johnson makes bold, unexpected choices in every frame, and by the time the credits roll he has shattered all preconceptions of what a Star Wars movie can be. But in a perfect final shot, he captures the one thing the galaxy far, far away can’t exist without: hope.
Rory – 5/5
Yeah, it’s the best one since Empire. Rian Johnson has somehow made a huge, grandiose space opera in the Star Wars tradition, which nonetheless spends its breezy two and a half hours throwing tradition under the bus and running on small-scale character conflict. Absolutely every element of this movie is firing on all cylinders, from the digital effects (Snoke!) to the cinematography (salt planet!) and, especially, the cast. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver do the heavy lifting this time and deliver wonderfully; the new additions fit in seamlessly; and Carrie Fisher’s final performance is suitably perfect. I’m going to see it 1138 times.
Thom – 4/5
The Last Jedi has faults, The Last Jedi has moments which I strongly dislike, The Last Jedi also, and most importantly, has the type of conviction rarely seen in blockbuster cinema, taking risks and delivering huge surprises – this is punk filmmaking on a mainstream scale. If you found Episode VII too formulaic, this is a film that pulls apart what you think you know about the Skywalker saga and rearranges it into the most original Star Wars film to date. This film will most definitely divide fans, but the franchise as a whole is all the better for it.