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Star Wars: The Last Jedi, review: ‘Identity, a purpose and a scope’

PUBLISHED: 15:00 13 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:55 20 December 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Rey (Daisy Ridley). Picture: Lucasfilm Ltd

Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Rey (Daisy Ridley). Picture: Lucasfilm Ltd

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Middle films in trilogies are tricky. Even the best have that Two Towers sense of being a means to an end. In Star Wars, they are the best and the worst of times.

Every time the opening crawl begins, I think we are all Star Wars fans, just a little bit.

Often though that enthusiasm will have drained by the time the closing credits appear. Here though is a Star Wars film that could make a fan of someone who never saw the sense in all this Skywalker, Force Be With You nonsense.

Middle films in trilogies are tricky. Even the best have that Two Towers sense of being a means to an end. In Star Wars, they are the best and the worst of times. Attack of the Clones is the most irredeemably wretched of the Prequels. Empire Strikes Back though is probably the main reason why we are still bothering with Star Wars films. It took the elements that made the first film such a massive pop culture phenomenon and gave them a mythic sense.

So far these Disney Star Wars films have basically just been rehashing what we’ve already seen. Episode VIII takes what was introduced in The Force Awakens and gives it an identity, a purpose and a scope.

It is the most humorous of all the films. Rian Johnson hasn’t Ragnaroked it but everybody gets to have at least one witty riposte. The new gang of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaacs are better than the old gang, perhaps because there’s a greater splash of Hans Solo in them. Both the boys are variations of him, while Ridley’s Rey covers the more earnest Luke and Leia side.

In the first film, there were times when golly gosh Rey looked and sounded like she might be happier with a Laser Hockey Stick than a Light Saber but she’s a stronger presence in this one.

The surprise is how compelling a character Adam Driver’s baddy is. He is like a sulky, confused teenager playing at being Darth Vader and given to throwing destructive strops when he doesn’t get what he wants.

Johnson’s most successful previous film was time travel thriller Looper and you wish this performance could be sent back in time and forcibly shown to Hayden Christensen with the firm instruction to be more like him.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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