Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
Disclaimer: Plot spoiler alert. Plus, you need to know that I’m a Star War’s fanboy. If you’re looking for an unbiased critique, go elsewhere. Just saying. The Last Jedi shakes up the Star Wars genre. Some of the die-hard fans don’t like that. More on their reaction later.
For openers, a couple of moments took my breath away. Luke tossing the lightsaber over his shoulder, down a cliff, is priceless. This flipped the mood of the whole scene, in an instant evaporating the solemnness of Rey’s actions. Then you’ve got R2D2 replaying Princess Leia’s original hologram: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” Luke unimpressed, “That’s a cheap move.”
The plot unfolds as the Skywalkers fight their dark side while dashing across the void. A compelling multi-layered generational angst, with a few twists. Plus, they don’t always win.
It's well acted - Mark Hamill absolutely kills it. Daisy Ridley starts off weak, but when bouncing off Adam Driver, she’s electric. Carrie Fisher in her final role is every bit the Leia we've come to know and love, and then some. She’s regal, aloof at times, but always poised. Although it has to be said, I didn’t appreciate the ‘Mary Poppins’ scene - watch it, and you’ll understand. This farcical moment needs deleting from the movie and my memory.
New character Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) steals scenes all over the place. She’s no beauty, although an inner strength allied to basic decency shines through. She’s captivating to watch. Meanwhile, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren has grown into the role. He’s a worthy successor to Darth Vader. For me, Benicio del Toro as DJ didn’t shine. He mumbled his lines.
Inevitably, speculation is rife that Rey is Luke’s daughter, the secret child of Han and Leia, or even a descendant of the Emperor Palpatine. Kylo Ren tells her otherwise, but is that the truth? We don’t get an answer.
John William’s score shines as always. The two suns scene still brings a lump to my throat. The music is fantastic, underscored by the use of silence. This works well in the destruction of the dreadnaught spaceship. I’ll always love a film that knows how to use its quiet moments. The homage to Kurosawa that has echoed throughout the Star Wars films reverbs again. Luke exiting the base on Planet Crait is a direct steal from Ran - as the King leaves the burning palace. The lightsaber fight in Snoke’s throne-room borrows from Kurosawa’s style, colouration and pacing.
It’s obvious they created set pieces designed to launch new toys. The big-eyed Porgs will go down well with the kids. The Ewoks became a pop-culture sensation; Porgs are on the same trajectory. But is there a dark side here? The question is, does Chewie eat them? An adult Wookiee requires between 3,500 and 6,000 calories a day, so you can’t exactly blame Chewbacca. Why do I know that?
A couple of amusing moments of humour work well. Watch out for the exchange between General Hux and Kylo Ren in the Walker. Kylo Ren looks like he’s about to break the fourth wall. I couldn't stop laughing.
Some fanboys are less than impressed. Check out their reviews on IMDB. For them 'The Last Jedi' breaks the Star War’s canon, although how is never quite explained. The negative opinions seem to come from old, hardcore fans, who are never satisfied. They complained about George Lucas' prequels, and now they complain about the latest offerings. (Except I agree, JaJa Binks was a travesty). Frankly, I don't think they know what they want. In their world nothing can evolve, time stopped with the ‘Empire Strikes Back’. They’d do well to reflect on Lukes line "This is not going to go the way you think."
Granted there a couple of massive plot holes, big enough to drive the Death Star through. Why didn’t Vice Admiral Holdo turn the spaceship earlier to defend her escaping transports? How come Rey is a qualified Jedi having done the equivalent of the short course? How come Leia can fly like Mary Poppins through space - sorry that really did bug me!
There are a few deviations the story could take that would trim the movie without losing a whole lot of necessary plot points or character progression. For starters, the entire casino thing on Canto Bight is redundant. Some of the long-distance chat between Rey and Kylo Ren is protracted. Nonetheless, the pacing is frantic.
So, this story brings the unexpected, shifts the profile of the saga and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Which is what it shares in common with ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, and that's every bit a good thing. Here’s a Star Wars movie that is a genuine evolution of canon.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.