Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
Director: Rian Johnson
Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios
Rating: 4/5 stars


Upon arriving at the theatre, I was determined to treat this film like any other. I’d done my best to avoid all the trailers, as well as other promotional material, spoilers or leaks. As well as you can do without ditching Facebook, anyway. Just like every time I do a review.

As a result, I walked in expecting something reminiscent of The Empire Strikes Back but with less Han Solo-ish antics. And less Han Solo. (Too soon?)

At first I was alarmed by the intro; unless I’m mistaken, parts of the opening crawl were taken directly from that movie. “Well dang,” I thought, “it’s nothing more than a rehash. Must we endure another curb-stomp battle on a snow-covered planet? Will there be wampas? Is there no more originality in Star Wars?”

Then Poe. Just Poe. He danced into the scene in his shimmering X-Wing and blasted my doubts in the most hilarious way possible; a prank call to the First Order.

From then we were treated to a whammy, blammy roller coaster ride across the galaxy! This episode carries right on from The Force Awakens, following two separate plotlines. In one, General Leia Organa is desperately trying to lead the tattered remnants of the Resistance to safety. They’re being hunted by the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke, his apprentice Kylo Ren and so many stormtroopers they’re actually in danger of being hit. #ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademyRep

The other plotline follows Rey following Luke Skywalker; and I mean literally following. Until she shows signs of being Force-sensitive, Luke does his best to ignore and evade her, starting from the moment he nonchalantly tosses his old lightsabre off a cliff. The poor guy is still suffering from the actions of Kylo, his student and nephew, and has exiled himself to watch the tainted legacy of the Jedi fade away on a long-forgotten island.

In general, the tone of the film is darker than almost any other Star Wars episode before it, including Rogue One. There was plenty of humour injected, however, especially by Poe (as mentioned above), BB-8 and Luke himself. In the tradition of both Obi-Wan and Yoda before him, when he finally agrees to train Rey he is an absolute troll. It’s glorious. His antics were my favourite part of the whole film, and made all the more better by knowing that his actor, Mark Hamill, is equally trolly in real life.

I’m trying not to post spoilers here, but if you’re brave you can check out Luke’s totally real and legit Twitter account that he started while on the island.

[Luke]: No training today. I need another day off
Rey: You’ve been hiding on this island for years not doing anything
[Luke]: Best time of my life

As the film progresses we get to see plenty of character development, a couple of new faces and, most importantly, stuff blowing up. Lots and lots of stuff! The space battles are epic and reminiscent of classic sci-fi TV shows such as Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. You’ll probably hear other critics point out that not much actually happens within the space of the movie. It’s two and a half hours long but the whole story takes place in just a few days. Objectively that’s true, but what you do see is just So. Freaking. COOOOL!

And then there’s the duels. Oh, the duels. They’re everything the prequel trilogy should have been. (drools)

There are other threads of plot to keep things interesting; Rey and Kylo have a psychic link that allows Rey to see Kylo shirtless, for instance. It makes sense in context (kind of). Finn wakes from his coma (not a spoiler!) and teams up with mechanic Rose to find a master codebreaker and try to save the Resistance. Kylo and Hux are shouting louder than ever, usually at each other. The ridiculously cute Porgs and the tireless Caretakers bring lots of laughs… and dinner for Chewie at one point. #EverythingTastesLikeChicken


My biggest complaint is that I’d love to have seen Rey get more training. Luke spent very little time actually walking her through Jedi business, instead leaving her to explore the darker corners of the island. Through these explorations we do get to learn more about the Force itself, and find out the line between light and dark isn’t always clear-cut.

With loads of action, humour, badassery and banter, this is not only a great movie on its own, it also serves as a memorable addition to the Star Wars saga. While it’s true we could have had more happen in the time, the events we did see helped to drive the overall story forward and provide lots of potential for Episode IX. If you’re the kind of person who owns an R2-D2 vacuum cleaner (like I do), obviously you must watch. Right now!

If you’re into sci-fi in any capacity, this one should be enjoyable for you. Those not interested in sci-fi can probably give The Last Jedi a miss; it won’t make much sense if you haven’t watched at least The Force Awakens previously. I mean, I think you should watch it anyway, but I can’t police you. (Or can I? #NewForcePowers)

Finally, we reach the end of the film. The part where people in the cinema stood up, got their phones out and starting Snapchatting, for the credits began with: “In loving memory of Carrie Fisher.” This was her very last performance, and what a performance it was, bringing back the commanding Leia we all know and love. We will miss you, ma’am.


(P.S: Sorry for the hashtags. I’ve spent a lot of time on John Boyega’s Twitter feed today.)


THOMAS STEVENSON is a recent Geology graduate and sci-fi author who spends much of his time roaming the Otago wilderness with his pet trilobites, Steve and Alan. You can follow his exploits on Facebook and check out more of his work for TEARAWAY:

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