In what is gradually becoming an annual tradition, it’s time for the brand new Star Wars film and this time it’s the second chapter in the new trilogy, so there was definitely a lot of excitement for this.
Now does it live up to the excitement? I’d say it certainly does, it may not quite be the Empire Strikes Back that they were trying for but it is definitely an incredible spectacle, that is superior to ‘Force Awakens’ and one of the best films in the franchise.
The story of course follows on from the previous film with The First Order in pursuit of the Rebel Alliance and Rey meeting Luke Skywalker for the first time. What unfolds is an absolute epic story packed with everything. It has action, drama, humour, emotion, surprises and tension nearly all of which it really delivers on. The films strongest elements though are definitely in it’s characters, action and visuals.
When it comes to characters the standouts are Rey, Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker. I love the dynamic and interactions between Rey and Kylo as well as the interactions between Luke and Rey. All of them really shine through in this movie and are backed up by some great acting. It was particularly wonderful seeing Luke Skywalker again and how he’s changed, with Mark Hamill putting on one of the finest performances in his career.
Most of the other characters are well handled and have their own special moments like Finn and Leia, but there are a few exceptions and these are mainly the new characters they introduce who are a little weak and seem to serve the plot more than anything else. The most prominent of the new additions is Rose, I thought her stuff was fine aside a few questionable things that didn’t really match up to the high quality of the rest of the film. Probably the best of the new people is Amilyn Holdo but that’s purely because she has a scene which rightfully made a lot of the audience gasp and even garnered a few claps.
One thing I will note is that I went to a midnight screening of this and the audience there was great and really reacted to all that was going on. There was applause, laughter, gasps and it all added to the experience.
But lets move on to the action and my goodness this has some of the best action I’ve seen in a Star Wars film, particularly the melee stuff but there some great aerial action to enjoy too. All of it is really well staged and shot and includes some really epic and awesome moments. If I was to complain about anything it would be that there is a little too much action and are few of the sequences that could of have been trimmed down.
This bring me to my main issue with the film, which is that its too long and a bit excessive. The run time is 152 minutes and you do feel it’s length, it certainly packs in a lot in the time frame and while I do feel like most scenes serve a purpose, there’s a lot of padding that could have been cut to make for a more concise film. I think it’s the case of director Rian Johnson having so much love for the franchise that he really wanted to showcase that and perhaps tried a little too hard to make something epic. He’s mostly successful but it’s certainly a little messy.
One thing I can barely fault the film on though is its visuals. The film looks incredible and has at times some breathtaking and beautiful imagery. Production design is as top notch as always, with a bunch of new creatures and environments being shown that all look great with a nice mix of practical and CGI effects being used. Add in some really nice camera work and much like Force Awakens you’ve got one of the best looking Star Wars films ever.
Overall I think the good stuff here, is so good that it trumps any issues the film may have. People wanting something more consistent will be disappointed, but for me it really delivered where it needed to and gave me a completely riveting and captivating experience that tapped into my emotions more than any other blockbuster film this year. The fact that it also managed this, late at night while I wasn’t feeling the best, makes it even more of an achievement in my eyes. If I was to rank it I’d probably say its the 3rd best film in the franchise, just absolutely spectacular.
OVERALL: 8.9/10 – EXCELLENCE
Written by Eric Hart (Blazinhart).