FILM REVIEW | Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Is there a task in Hollywood more burdened with the weight of viewer expectation than adding a new instalment to the Star Wars franchise?

It seems unlikely.

The fear must have been crippling for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson as he stepped up to the plate.

But, thankfully, the director has absolutely delivered with his fourth feature film.

The Last Jedi picks up immediately after the events of The Force Awakens and finds heroine Rey appealing to Luke Skywalker for assistance in the fight against the First Order (like a neo-Empire). Luke has spent years in self-imposed exile and is reluctant to rejoin the fight.

Our other main characters Finn and Poe Dameron can be found at the heart of the Resistance fleet.

Both have their missions, whether self-imposed or instructed, and both have a tendency to go off-script.

Our trusty General Leia oversees all the Resistance strategy with the steely determination and compassion that fans know and love.

Next generation: Daisy Ridley's Rey meets with jaded hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a secluded island in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, rated M, in cinemas now.

Next generation: Daisy Ridley's Rey meets with jaded hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a secluded island in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, rated M, in cinemas now.

At the other end of the spectrum we have Darth Vader-lite Kylo Ren, battling with his inner good/bad conflict.

Johnson has handled his characters, action, effects and humour with aplomb, while managing to stay true to the heart of the series.

He introduced new, exciting worlds that are magnificent to view and add intrigue to the story. He also introduced new creatures, however they might divide some viewers – the new immortal question, are porgs adorable and charming or ridiculous and irritating?

The director has proven his aptitude behind the camera with his three previous films, Brick, The Brothers Bloom and LooperThe Last Jedi is like none of them, which is a good thing, as none of them were anything like the other.

There’s much to like about the new episode, not least of which are great and inviting performances by the leads.

Daisy Ridley is commanding as Rey, and her interactions with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren are fascinating, compelling and a brilliant tete-a-tete that just about sums up the core of the Star Wars universe.

If you were fearful that Star Wars would make a return to the dark days of the prequel trilogy, fear not – the Force is with Johnson.

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