Black Panther (Film Review) – A Top 5 MCU Film

Black Panther is a superhero film directed by Ryan Coogler and it is the eighteenth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Chadwick Boseman reprises his role as T’Challa/Black Panther alongside an ensemble cast that includes Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke, Andy Serkis, Daniel Kaluuya, Sterling K. Brown, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan.

The story of Black Panther takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War and T’Challa returns to Wakanda as King after the death of his father. However, he finds his sovereignty challenged by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). A conflict ensues between the two which has the capacity to have severe ramifications both in Wakanda and beyond.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Black Panther

Every time another MCU film is about to be released, I am pretty confident that it will be a good and entertaining as an absolute minimum. Black Panther was a different story. This film had a lot of potential to be amazing and one of the best MCU films to date. Everything I had seen from Black Panther looked unique and fresh. I was excited to see what was in store and, once the film was receiving universal critical acclaim, all it did was increase my expectations for Black Panther.

Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther/T'Challa in Black Panther

Another thing which filled me with a lot of hope that Black Panther would be something special was the directorial talent behind the film. Appointing Ryan Coogler as the director of the film was a great choice. His work on Fruitvale Station and Creed cemented him as being one of the most promising, up-and-coming directors working in the film industry today. He has had a great career so far and to think that he is only 31-years-old and has so many years ahead of him is exciting to say the least.

The cast for Black Panther just speaks for itself. Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis and Chadwick Boseman among other talented individuals should entice any film fan to see the film they are in. Everything was in the favour of Black Panther to be something that could transcend the superhero genre, especially with its social, racial and political themes which are extremely relevant in today’s climate. I wanted this film to be rich and have an abundance of depth. Moreover, I hoped Black Panther would be at high enough level of quality where it would be one of my favourite films in the MCU.

My Thoughts on Black Panther

Truly, I cannot remember the last time I was as emotionally invested in an MCU film as I was with Black Panther. Without a doubt, this film is in my Top 5 favourite MCU films and Ryan Coogler continues to impress me as a filmmaker with the incredible work he did in Black Panther.

Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger and Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi in Black Panther

A variety of reasons exist as to why I love Black Panther as much as I do. Let me start with the biggest positive of the film; Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger. For me, the biggest flaw of the MCU has been its inability to consistently produce compelling and/or sympathetic villains/antagonists.

In my mind, it is clear to see that the MCU struck gold with Killmonger. For me, he is one of the best MCU villains. This is because you identify with him due to his past struggles and how he wants to reveal Wakanda to the world and put an end to their isolationist tendencies. However, he goes about things in the wrong way and his methods would do more harm than good to the situation. Because of this, even though we know that he is the bad guy, we feel for KIllmonger throughout the film and it makes certain scenes towards the end of Black Panther that more of a gut punch.

He was the strongest aspect of the story in Black Panther and the story itself was very engaging and superb performances from the cast helped to bring it to life, particularly when it came to the actresses. For me, the women of Black Panther were huge standouts. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) were phenomenal and really pulled me into the film from an emotional standpoint, particularly in the third act.

Dora Milaje in Black Panther

Excellent World-Building + Timely Themes

Make no mistake, Chadwick Boseman was great as T’Challa/Black Panther. He was captivating in the lead role but the women around him, as well as the villain, elevated both him and the film. Moreover, an element of Black Panther such as the Dora Milaje, a team of special forces which Okoye was the leader of, helped to flesh out Wakanda.

Certainly, the amount of world-building was immensely impressive, especially as it was all done in one film. You see how vast and rich the lore and nation of Wakanda is and it pulls you into the film. Additionally, the story being told deals with some extremely relevant social, political and racial themes which also elevates your experience with the film. Undoubtedly, Black Panther is a timely film which has a lot to say beyond its superhero plot.

It is an important film to watch because of what is going on in the world nowadays which helps Black Panther transcend the superhero genre. Scenes in the film which proved how well it becomes more than just a superhero film include Killmonger’s conversation with his father, played by Sterling K. Brown, as well as his final scene with T’Challa. Both scenes were incredibly powerful and showcased the themes of the film in a great way.

Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther/T'Challa in Black Panther

Other Highlights of Black Panther

As you can see, I have been incredibly positive about Black Panther so far and that is not stopping now. The use of colour was brilliant, the score and its use of percussion was excellent and it fitted in well with the film. The humour in Black Panther, like every MCU film I have seen, was more hit than miss. This is especially the case whenever M’Baku (Winston Duke) or Shuri were involved.

The only criticism I would have of Black Panther is that the lighting for the action scenes could have been better so I could see what was going on more clearly than I could. Still, that is a small gripe in an otherwise amazing film which ranks amongst the best in the MCU. Moreover, it has made the wait for Avengers: Infinity War more unbearable than it has been and I cannot wait to return to Wakanda and these characters in that film.

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The Shape of Water (Film Review) – Well-Made But Not Best Picture Worthy

The Shape of Water is a fantasy drama directed by Guillermo del Toro which stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Octavia Spencer, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins and Sally Hawkins. The story of the film takes place in Baltimore in 1962 and focuses on Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), a mute who works as a custodian at a government laboratory where experiments are being conducted on a humanoid-amphibian named The Asset (Doug Jones). Elisa befriends the creature and their relationship develops into something much more than a friendship.

My Knowledge and Expectation of The Shape of Water

I would consider myself to be well above what a casual film fan is. I have seen a lot of films over the years but even I will acknowledge that I have a lot of gaps when it comes to films I need to see. This is certainly the case when it comes to films made by Guillermo del Toro. Before seeing The Shape of Water, I had never seen a Guillermo del Toro film. While this is a shocking statement for those of you who are die-hard fans of this director, this reality only increased my excitement to see this film. I treated The Shape of Water as an event because it would be the first Guillermo del Toro film I would see.

Moreover, the unanimous praise The Shape of Water had been getting from film critics and fans quickly made this film one of my most anticipated films since Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I could not wait to see what looked like a highly original story in a film which has been nominated for and won numerous awards. Indeed, it won Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars. The cast for The Shape of Water looked great on paper too which cemented my belief that everything was in place for this film to be amazing.

Doug Jones as The Asset and Sally Hawkins as Elisa in The Shape of Water

My Thoughts on The Shape of Water

My expectations were high and, sadly, not fully met. I liked The Shape of Water but it is one of a vast number of good films that I have no real inclination to see again. I was not as emotionally moved as I wanted to be by the story. Still, I would be lying if I said that you cannot admire many things about this film. The truth is that you can, especially from a technical level.

Certainly, technical elements of The Shape of Water such as the production design and cinematography were absolutely fantastic. The score by Alexandre Desplat was very good too and it felt like its own character within the film. All of this made The Shape of Water feel very atmospheric which I appreciated.

The Performances in The Shape of Water

The performances were another stellar quality of The Shape of Water. Sally Hawkins gave a unique lead performance and made it look easy when it came to communicating without speech. One scene she had with Richard Jenkins’ character about The Asset and her connection to him was a real highlight in this regard.

Richard Jenkins as Giles and Doug Jones as The Asset in The Shape of Water

Still, my favourite performances in the film were given by Richard Jenkins and Michael Shannon. Jenkins provided needed moments of levity with his character’s dry sense of humour and I really liked his relationship with Sally Hawkins’ character. Michael Shannon gave a completely different type of performance to Jenkins but he was incredibly captivating nonetheless. Make no mistake, Michael Shannon is terrifying in The Shape of Water, especially as the film progresses to its conclusion.

My Final Thoughts on The Shape of Water

Thanks to the technical qualities and performances in The Shape of Water, I was never bored during my viewing experience. The film always had fluid momentum and purpose. Yet, at the same time, I was not blown away from an emotional viewpoint when it came to the story.

As such, I have to put The Shape of Water in the same group with other films such as Phantom ThreadCall Me By Your Name and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as films not worthy of their nominations for Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars. I appreciate The Shape of Water more than I actually like it. In the end, it is a good film but I was not as emotionally affected as others were by it and I am not in a huge rush to watch the film again.

The Shape of Water Film Review Pin

Phantom Thread (Film Review) – Strange and Unrewarding

Phantom Thread is a drama written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis in what is, supposedly, his final performance as an actor before he retires. The cast of the film also includes Brian Gleeson, Harriet Sansom Harris, Camilla Rutherford, Richard Graham, Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville.

The story of Phantom Thread is set in 1950s London and focuses on Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a dressmaker who falls in love with waitress Alma Elson (Vicky Krieps). However, the relationship they have swings from affection to detachment throughout the film due to their differences.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Phantom Thread

Any film with Daniel Day-Lewis is going to interest me. I mentioned in my review of The Post that Meryl Streep is the best actress of all-time. I can make a similar argument in regards to Daniel Day-Lewis being the best actor of all-time. He has been nominated for six Oscars in the category of Best Actor and is the only male actor to ever garner three wins in that category. This is an outstanding achievement given how difficult is to get nominated for an Oscar, let alone win one.

Vicky Krieps as Alma Elson and Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread

In every film I have seen Daniel Day-Lewis in, he gives outstanding performances and the best of these performances was in There Will Be Blood. That film was also directed by Paul Thomas Anderson so to have these two reunite for Phantom Thread was an exciting prospect me. Phantom Thread was, to some, a surprise nomination for Best Picture. Out of all the nominees for Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars, only The Post has made me feel as though it was a film deserving of its nomination. I hoped that Phantom Thread would do the same.

My Thoughts on Phantom Thread

My feeling after seeing Phantom Thread was one of disappointment. I did not really like this film that much. It is not a terrible film but I do not believe it is a film which, on the whole, is that good either. Good elements, however, do exist within Phantom Thread. For one, the performances are superb.

While I do believe that this is the least captivating performance Daniel Day-Lewis has given in any film I have seen him in, he was great in Phantom Thread as were Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps. They all managed to convey the subtle toxicity within this film quite well, especially in the relationships between the characters which were completely messed up.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock and Vicky Krieps as Alma Elson in Phantom Thread

The score in Phantom Thread, which was composed by Jonny Greenwood, was very good and I was surprised at how prevalent it was throughout the film. It seemed as though it was continuous, like it never ended which was something that impressed me. The production value in this film was its biggest quality in my opinion. I absolutely believed that I was living in London’s fashion scene during the 1950s. It was a technical quality of Phantom Thread I was mesmerised by.

The Negative Aspects of Phantom Thread

Nevertheless, all of the good elements in Phantom Thread did not alleviate the amount of problems I have with the film. For one, the story of the film failed to rivet me from beginning to end. I have to put the blame on the pacing and editing for this. The editing was noticeably sudden at times which affected how well the film flowed and the pacing was too slow for a film as long as Phantom Thread.

While surprising moments of humour kept me slightly engaged in what, for me, were the more ponderous scenes and sequences in Phantom Thread, I could not help becoming more bored by what was happening onscreen as the film progressed. I also felt that the ending of Phantom Thread was completely unearned. It did not sit right with me and I was sitting during the credits thinking “WTF?”.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread

I was not loving Phantom Thread before its final moments and what occurred at the end just cemented this film as being a let-down. Again, Phantom Thread is, for me, another Best Picture nominee from the 2018 Oscars which is not worthy of its nomination. Certain elements of the film are deserving of praise but, as a whole, the film failed to deliver. As such, I cannot recommend Phantom Thread as a film that needs to be seen immediately.

Phantom Thread Film Review Pin

 

The Post (Film Review) – An Important Story

The Post is a political thriller directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. The film stars David Cross, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, Carrie Coon, Bruce Greenwood, Alison Brie, Bradley Whitford, Tracy Letts, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. The film takes place in the early 1970s and focuses on journalists from The Washington Post.

The main protagonists are Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks). The story of The Post is about the attempts by The Washington Post and the journalists who work for this newspaper to publish the Pentagon Papers. These were highly classified documents which contained information undisclosed to the public about the thirty-year involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War.

My Knowledge and Expectation of The Post

The Post is a film which had everything going for it. For one, Steven Spielberg, who is arguably the greatest director of all time, was directing the film. Since the 1970s, he has made films which are now considered to be classics. Jaws, the Indiana Jones Trilogy, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan are a handful of the brilliant films Steven Spielberg has made during his career. I hoped The Post would rank amongst his best.

Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham in The Post

He certainly had an awesome cast to make The Post as good as it could be. Indeed, Sarah Paulson was fantastic in The People v. O. J. Simpson and Bob Odenkirk was great in Breaking Bad. I was curious to see them in a film such as The Post. I believe that Bruce Greenwood is highly underrated as an actor so I could not wait to see him in this film. Still, I have to be honest and say that Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep were the standout cast members.

Tom Hanks is awesome and Meryl Streep is the best actress of all. If you can choose any titans of acting to lead your film, you cannot do better than Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. With the film receiving two nominations at the 2018 Oscars, my expectations for The Post were high. I was confident that I would see a film that would be worthy of its nomination for Best Picture. On paper, everything was in place for this to happen.

My Thoughts on The Post

I loved The Post. For me, this is the first film nominated for Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars I have seen which made me believe that it thoroughly deserved its nomination. From top to bottom, the film exudes excellence, especially with its acting. Clearly, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep bring their A-game and provide tremendous lead performances. I have no problem with Meryl Streep being nominated for Best Actress. She was superb and continues to solidify her seemingly insurmountable position as the best actress of all-time.

Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham in The Post

The supporting cast in The Post were fantastic as well. For one, Bruce Greenwood was great in his small role as Robert McNamara and this is not the first time he has played someone from the Kennedy Administration. Indeed, he played President John F. Kennedy in Thirteen Days and now Robert McNamara in The Post. He has impressed me in everything I have seen him in and that continued with this film. Bob Odenkirk and Carrie Coon were also standouts in The Post.

The Story and Themes of The Post

I was captivated by the story in The Post from the beginning which I expected to happen. This is because films about journalism, cover-ups and government corruption always interest me. Certainly, you can make parallels with other great films such as State of Play, Spotlight and especially All the President’s Men when looking at the subject matter of The Post. I was enthralled with the story and I found the film to get progressively better. I loved The Post more and more as it went on. Certainly, the stakes and tension in the film build throughout its duration as well as its resonance and timeliness.

Clearly, everything that is touched upon in The Post is extremely relevant to what is going on in the world today. It would be easy for a less capable director to portray the themes and messages of this film in a forced manner. Luckily, The Post had Steven Spielberg at the helm and he crafted this film in such a way that I was emotionally impacted by it, especially towards the end.

Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee and Journalists from The Washington Post with the Pentagon Papers in The Post

Steven Spielberg did a great job directing this film which, on the whole, I found to be brilliant. It is another example of how Spielberg continues to deliver fantastic films. Truly, I have no major complaints with The Post. I urge you to see this film as soon as you can for all of the reasons that I listed above. Once you do see it, I hope the film will impact you in the same way it impacted me.

The Post Film Review

 

Coco (Film Review) – Pixar Does It Again

Coco is an animated film directed by Lee Unkrich and produced by Pixar Animation Studios. The voice cast of the film includes Edward James Olmos, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt and Anthony Gonzalez. The story of Coco focuses on Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a 12-year-old boy with a love for music. During the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead, he is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead. He seeks the help of his deceased family members to return him to the land of the living.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Coco

Anytime a Pixar film, which is not in the Cars franchise, is about to come out, it becomes an event. Certainly, I believe that Pixar is one of the best film studios working today. The majority of the films made by Pixar are fantastic and Coco looked like another hit for the animation studio. The film was released in the United States in 2017 and received rave reviews when it came to its story, emotional weight, themes and music. This has made the wait to see it in the United Kingdom pretty arduous.

Elena and Miguel in Coco

Moreover, it has meant that avoiding spoilers for Coco has been tough. Luckily, I did well to go into the film with no idea about what would happen. I always hope that a new Pixar film becomes one of my favourites ever created by the animation studio. I did my very best to keep my expectations grounded. Still, after hearing all the praise Coco received, I could not help myself in thinking that I was in store for another emotional, brilliant Pixar film.

My Thoughts on Coco

Overall, I really liked Coco. Was it as great as I hoped it would be? No, sadly not. I do not consider Coco to be one of the best Pixar films ever made. However, it is still a very good film worthy of your time. A lot of things in this film should be admired. For one, the animation is absolutely gorgeous. Pixar has always pushed the boundaries of animation since Toy Story and they do it once again with Coco.

Day of the Dead in Coco

The use of colour and the vivid imagery keep you engaged in a visual capacity from beginning to end. The themes in Coco are also something to admire. The theme of family is at the very heart of this film as well as themes such as life, death and following your dreams. The way they are used in Coco makes for some poignant moments in the film, especially towards the end. While I was not as emotionally moved as I wanted to be by Coco, it was nonetheless a very heartfelt film thanks to its themes.

The Music and Story of Coco

The music also added to the quality of Coco. Indeed, ‘Remember Me’ was a very sweet, tender song deserving of its Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. While I do believe that it will probably lose to The Greatest Showman’s ‘This Is Me‘, ‘Remember Me’ is still a very good song. The story in Coco was good as well. It had a nice blend of drama and comedy and it delivered well on its overall message which is the importance of family.

Miguel and Mama Coco singing Remember Me in Coco

Yet, I would have liked the film to have had a few more comedic moments. Furthermore, as I previously said, the more emotional moments did not move me to the degree where I was crying. The best Pixar films always bring me to tears and Coco does not rank amongst them. That being said, Coco is absolutely worth seeing, especially with your family.

Additionally, I consider this film to be worthy of its Best Animated Film nomination at the Oscars. It will probably win too. Although, the film would have stiffer competition if The Lego Batman Movie was nominated which it should have been. Still, even then, Coco would be the favourite to win. After seeing the film, you will hopefully see why this is the case.

Coco Film Review

 

Darkest Hour (Film Review) – Gary Oldman Shines In An Okay Film

Darkest Hour is a British war drama directed by Joe Wright. The film stars Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James and Gary Oldman. The film is set during World War Two (WW2) and focuses on Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman). We gain insight into his early days as Prime Minister and how he deals with the threat of Hitler and Nazi Germany as they close in on Britain after their ruthless conquest throughout Europe.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Darkest Hour

Since its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in September 2017, Darkest Hour has been lauded by film critics. Indeed, the main consensus I have seen in the reviews for this film has been that Gary Oldman is terrific as Winston Churchill. In fact, even though Daniel Day-Lewis is involved in the race to win Best Actor as the Oscars, it seems as though Gary Oldman is a lock to win that award. Forget just being nominated, a win seems likely if film critics and pundits are to be believed.

I could not wait to see his performance as one of the most notable historical figures in British history. Certainly, Churchill is a man who has earned his place in history as one of the great wartime leaders. However, he is flawed and I wanted Darkest Hour to explore that. I did not want this film to be a fluff piece that is completely one-sided in favour of Churchill. I hoped Gary Oldman would portray Churchill in a way where we explore the positive and negative side of the man.

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour

Still, while Gary Oldman has been the primary focus of critical acclaim, I was looking forward to see the rest of the cast too in the story that would be told. Interestingly, the story of Darkest Hour is based on subject matter that we have seen recently; the Dunkirk evacuation. Films centred around WW2 and specifically the Dunkirk evacuation seem to the norm these days. In 2017, we had Their Finest and Dunkirk and we now have Darkest Hour. I hoped the latter would be the best of those films.

My Thoughts on Darkest Hour

Sadly, I did not like Darkest Hour that much. It is an okay film that has a tremendous central performance by Gary Oldman. Make no mistake, he is awesome as Churchill. I have mentioned before about how one great performance can steal the film from the rest of the cast. In Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman does not just overpower the cast, he overpowers the entire film. For me, his performance carried a film which, as a whole, is quite boring and drab.

Indeed, I was yawning quite a lot during the film. Unless I am tired, this is not a good sign for the ability of a film to keep one hooked from beginning to end. The only thing that kept me engaged was Gary Oldman’s performance. After seeing Darkest Hour, I can see how deserving Gary Oldman is of his Oscar nomination for Best Actor. On the other hand, it completely baffles me how Darkest Hour got nominated for Best Picture over films such as Blade Runner 2049, Molly’s Game, Wind River and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill and Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour

The Humanisation of Churchill

Still, one thing that I strongly believe Darkest Hour does well is humanising Churchill. Certainly, notable figures such as Churchill take on a legendary status in history. However, we must not forget that historical figures like Churchill are still people and, as such, flawed. Darkest Hour portrays these flaws. I was happy that the film did what I hoped it would do; expose the strengths and weaknesses of Churchill. Darkest Hour is not a propaganda piece that portrays him as a God. Throughout the film, we see his doubts and insecurities which grounded Darkest Hour.

I also liked how, at certain points, we see black bars on frames/scenes of Churchill to illustrate isolation. These little touches were very important to showcase Churchill in a very human way. The relationship that he had with his personal secretary Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) also humanised him. I found their interactions in Darkest Hour to be very genuine. I could connect to Churchill as a person rather than a historical legend.

My Final Thoughts on Darkest Hour

The humanisation of Churchill was something I did appreciate about Darkest Hour. However, the film as whole did not reach a level where I liked it. As I said, the film is quite boring. While Gary Oldman’s performance is awesome, it is not enough to save the film. Gary Oldman is the sole reason you should watch Darkest Hour. Nothing else comes close to the quality he shows in this film. He overpowers the rest of the cast and you forget about their performances. Without Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour would completely fail as a film.

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill at Parliament in Darkest Hour

The film does enough to be better than Their Finest. However, I did not like that film at all. Darkest Hour is not as good as Dunkirk. Dunkirk is a very good film but not the masterpiece some proclaim it to be. Darkest Hour sits right in the middle of these recent films that have been based around the Dunkirk evacuation. In the end. it is an okay film. Still, I will not deny that Darkest Hour has a brilliant performance by Gary Oldman which is deserving of the praise it has received.

Darkest Hour Film Review

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Film Review) – Good, Not Great

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a black comedy crime film written and directed by Martin McDonagh. The film starts Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, John Hawkes, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand. The story of Three Billboards focuses on Mildred (Frances McDormand), a mother whose daughter was brutally murdered. The police have not been able to find a suspect so Mildred takes matters into her own hands. She rents three billboards to call attention to the unsolved crime which has an impact on the local community.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This is a film I was really looking forward to, particularly when you consider the amount of award recognition it is receiving. In fact, many see Three Billboards as a frontrunner to win Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars. The director was a big reason why I was excited to see the film. Indeed, Martin McDonagh directed In Bruges which is a great film that not many people have seen. If Three Billboards was on the same level of quality as that film, then I would be delighted.

The casting for Three Billboards was fantastic too. We all know Peter Dinklage from his outstanding work in Game of Thrones and I was excited to see what he could do in the film. Sam Rockwell is a great character actor and has worked with McDonagh before in Seven Psychopaths which was a positive. Woody Harrelson has proven time and time again how talented he is as an actor. The same can be said for Frances McDormand. Her work in films such as Almost Famous, Mississippi Burning and Moonrise Kingdom proves how gifted she is. I was looking forward to seeing her performance in Three Billboards.

Woody Harrelson as Willoughby and Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This was particularly the case when you consider that she is a favourite to win Best Actress at the Oscars. Indeed, both McDormand and Rockwell are in contention to win in their respective acting categories. I hoped that these performances which have received such high praise would elevate what looked like a compelling story. Certainly, the subject matter provided a lot of opportunity for the film to have depth. I wanted Three Billboards to be great and consider it to be worthy of the critical acclaim and award recognition it has received.

My Thoughts on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

While Three Billboards was not the film I wanted it to be in terms of quality, I did like it. Similar to Call Me By Your Name, it is a good film with great performances that did not make me feel like it deserved a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Still, I will start with the positives.

Firstly, the performances in Three Billboards. Most of the cast are fantastic in the film. As I previously stated, the film as a whole does not feel worthy to have been nominated for Best Picture. Nonetheless, the performances given by Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell deserve the award recognition they have received so far.

Sam Rockwell as Dixon and Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

They were exceptional in Three Billboards. I am more than pleased that Oscar nominations were given to them. Yet, I am not sure whether they deserve to win in their respective categories. This is simply because I still need to see more films and performances that are Oscar contenders. I have not seen enough of them yet to give you a solid opinion about who should win. However, I am confident enough to say that both McDormand and Rockwell warranted Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively.

Peter Dinklage, Woody Harrelson and Lucas Hedges were all good too but they were overshadowed by McDormand and Rockwell who are the stars of Three Billboards. The only negative with the cast was Abbie Cornish. She was completely miscast. It felt like she was in a completely different film which was a shame. Still, this is quite a minor negative in the grand scheme of things.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Is Engaging But Depressing

Three Billboards was, for the most part, engaging throughout. Despite its slow pacing, the excellent dialogue helps the film move at a good pace and keeps you entertained. Indeed, certain conversations in Three Billboards did make me chuckle, particularly when Mildred was involved. One flashback scene in a kitchen also comes to mind in regards to the comedic moments. These were the moments of levity in what was a very depressing film. I cannot deny that I was caught off guard at just how sad and dark Three Billboards was.

Frances McDormand as Mildred and Peter Dinklage as James in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Even the comedic moments are dark in nature. The depressing nature of the film does harm the chances of me re-watching Three Billboards again. For me, rewatchability is a big factor in the greatness of a film. True, certain films do exist which are very dark but have a lot of rewatchability. The masterpiece that is Schindler’s List comes to mind in that regard. However, Three Billboards is not one of these films.

The film never reached a high enough level of quality to make it qualify as a depressing film with tough subject matter that I will watch multiple times. Moreover, the ending of Three Billboards did not sit well with me. The film ended with a lack of resolution that left me unfulfilled with my viewing experience. I sat through the credits disappointed which was a real shame. I understood the meaning of the ending but I would have preferred it to be somewhat less ambiguous than it was.

My Final Thoughts on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

In the end, Three Billboards is a good film that I never have to see again. You can get a lot of enjoyment out of the great performances in the film as well as the excellent script which contains some brilliant dialogue. Still, Three Billboards is not on the same level of quality as In Bruges and it is not worthy of a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The performances are worthy, but the film as a whole is not in my opinion. Still, I think that you should go see Three Billboards. Every film impacts different people in different ways. Three Billboards is good enough for you to give it a chance. Moreover, I have seen the film be adored by enough people that you could end up loving it. However, it is not good enough for me to say with confidence that you will likely love it. I really hope that you do though.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Film Review

 

Molly’s Game (Film Review) – A Great Directorial Debut For Aaron Sorkin

Molly’s Game is a biographical crime drama written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. The film is based on the memoir Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker. This memoir was written by Molly Bloom who is played by Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game.

The film also stars Jeremy Strong, Joe Keery, Claire Rankin, Graham Greene, Bill Camp, Chris O’Dowd, Brian D’Arcy James, Michael Cera, Kevin Costner and Idris Elba. The story of Molly’s Game focuses on Molly Bloom. She establishes an underground poker empire for Hollywood celebrities, business tycoons, athletes and even the Russian mafia. Molly becomes the target of an FBI investigation due to her illegal acts within this business venture. She enlists the help of lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) to avoid a lengthy prison sentence.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Molly’s Game

A film such as Molly’s Game is made for me. For one, I love biopics. Indeed, biopics such as Gandhi, Schindler’s List, Malcolm X and Goodfellas are some of my all-time favourite films. Additionally, any biopic related to crime provides a great opportunity for someone to delve into a gritty, complex story. If you had to choose a screenwriter for Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin is a great choice.

Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom in Molly's Game

While probably most famous for his television work with The West Wing, that was not my introduction to Aaron Sorkin. Instead, it was his work in the film industry that alerted me to his talent as a screenwriter. The Social Network, A Few Good Men, Moneyball and Charlie Wilson’s War made me realise that Sorkin is a cut above a lot of the screenwriters working today. Molly’s Game actually marks the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin. This also peaked my interest in the film.

Still, what really sealed the deal to make Molly’s Game an absolute must see for me was the cast. Clearly, casting Kevin Costner, Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba is guaranteed to elevate any film. They all have presence on-screen and have consistently proved to be extremely talented actors. Literally, how could this film be bad? It did not seem possible. I was steadfast in my belief that Molly’s Game would be fantastic.

My Thoughts on Molly’s Game

I was right to think this way. Molly’s Game is absolutely phenomenal. I was mesmerised by the story and the acting from beginning to end. For me, the star of the film is Aaron Sorkin. His writing in the film is fantastic and it gives the film momentum and purpose. The pacing in Molly’s Game was superb and that was mainly down to how quick Sorkin’s dialogue in the film was. It also made a lot of the character interactions in the film very intriguing and gripping.

Idris Elba as Charlie Jaffey and Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom in Molly's Game

Still, you need great performances from your cast for these scenes to be as enthralling as they are. Thankfully, everyone is great in Molly’s Game and the standout is Jessica Chastain. As it stands right now, she would be guaranteed an Oscar nomination for Best Actress if I had a say. She always brings her best to every film I see her in and this is no different in Molly’s Game. She was masterful in this film. She also had electric chemistry with Idris Elba and their scenes were amongst the best in the film.

Yet, the best scene in Molly’s Game was the one between Jessica Chastain and Kevin Costner. Costner’s role in the film is quite minimal. However, when he is on screen, he has presence. This is no more apparent than his scene with Chastain towards the end of the film. That scene between father and daughter is just sublime and I do not want to give away what happens. All I will say is that certain things which are established in the film come full circle in this scene. When it does, it is very emotional for the characters that Costner and Chastain play in Molly’s Game.

My Final Thoughts on Molly’s Game

I found the character of Molly to be very complex. Jessica Chastain beautifully portrays the depth in this strong-willed character who evokes power and vulnerability in a believable, compelling way. In a lot of ways, the compelling elements of the story in Molly’s Game were ripe for Aaron Sorkin to explore and flesh out. He did this to such a brilliant degree that Molly’s Game is a film that I believe, even at this very early stage, will rank amongst the best films I will see in 2018.

Kevin Costner as Larry Bloom and Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom in Molly's Game

I love Molly’s Game. Because the film was first released in 2017, it is eligible for nominations at the Oscars. I pray that it is recognised, especially in the acting categories. At a minimum, it should be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Molly’s Game is the first film I have seen in this Oscar season since Blade Runner 2049 that made me think it deserves a lot of Oscar nominations. I hope the film is appreciated by Academy voters to the extent that I do. Moreover, I hope you love the film as much as I do once you see it. You must see Molly’s Game as soon as you can. I do not believe that you will regret seeing this film.

The Greatest Showman (Film Review) – Fluffy, Surface-Level Fun

The Greatest Showman is a musical directed by Michael Gracey and written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon. The film stars Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman. The Greatest Showman is loosely based on the creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus by P. T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) and focuses on the lives of its stars.

My Knowledge and Expectation of The Greatest Showman

To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of musicals. It is not my favourite genre of film. Consequently, I was not hugely excited to see The Greatest Showman. Still, I thought that The Greatest Showman had a great cast which did peak my interest slightly. I really liked Zendaya in Spider-Man: Homecoming and hoped that this film would be another great role for her. While I have not seen Rebecca Ferguson in a film since Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, I thought she was outstanding in that film so I was looking forward to seeing her again in The Greatest Showman.

I loved Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea so I was confident she would bring her best. In regards to Zac Efron, I believe he gets a bit of a hard time from film fans. While some of the projects he chooses are not the best, he has proved himself to be a capable actor. This was evident to me with his work in the Bad Neighbours franchise. I was rooting for him to deliver a good performance in The Greatest Showman. Clearly, Hugh Jackman has proven himself to be an awesome lead actor with his work in the X-Men franchise. Certainly, his performance in Logan was fantastic and he was great in films such as The Prestige and Prisoners.

Hugh Jackman as P. T. Barnum and Michelle Williams as Charity Burnam in The Greatest Showman

With his background in theatre, it seems like The Greatest Showman was made for Hugh Jackman. The cast was what got me excited to see the film. At the very least, I hoped I would be entertained but I was not expecting a great film. Indeed, I have never regarded a musical as a great film (Yes, that includes La La Land). I did not expect that to change with The Greatest Showman.

My Thoughts on The Greatest Showman

I enjoyed The Greatest Showman. Is it a great film? No, far from it. Still, you can have a fun time with this film. This is especially the case when it comes to the songs. Make no mistake, the songs in The Greatest Showman are superb. This is where the film really shines. ‘A Million Dreams’, ‘Never Enough’, ‘This Is Me’, ‘Rewrite the Stars’ and ‘From Now On’ are absolutely fantastic songs. In fact, all the songs in The Greatest Showman are really catchy. After the film ends, the first thing you will want to do is listen to the soundtrack.

Within the film itself, I also thought that the dancing which accompanied the songs was well choreographed. Certainly, the songs and choreography are amongst the strongest elements of The Greatest Showman. The performance of Hugh Jackman is another. He is electric in the lead role and proves how great he is as a pure performer. In fact, he kind of overshadows everyone else in the film. Of course, the rest of the cast were good as I expected them to be. Still, The Greatest Showman is Hugh Jackman’s film and he makes the most of his role. He works well off his co-stars yet, at the same time, he steals the film from them.

Zac Efron as Phillip Carlyle and Hugh Jackman as P. T. Barnum in a Bar in The Greatest Showman

I also thought that the production value in The Greatest Showman was very impressive. The film certainly feels like it belongs on the stage. The production value also elevates the musical numbers in the film which are great spectacles. The Greatest Showman also has very meaningful messages in it such as acceptance, being yourself and inclusiveness. Clearly, this is most evident in songs such as ‘This Is Me’ as well as ‘From Now On’.

The Story of The Greatest Showman

However, herein lies the biggest flaw of The Greatest Showman; its story. More specifically, it is how the themes in the film, showcased in its songs, try to make up for a surface-level story. Depth is lacking in the story. I wish that the story of the film was fleshed out more effectively when the songs were not happening. I do not believe that the editing of The Greatest Showman helped in that regard. To me, it felt like the film was rushing to get from one song to the next. Because of this, The Greatest Showman failed to provide enough substance in between the songs.

This weakened the quality of the film. Consequently, I have a greater desire to listen to my favourite songs in The Greatest Showman rather than watch the film itself again. Still, you should absolutely watch The Greatest Showman. If nothing else, you will be entertained by a light-hearted, feel-good musical that has great songs, good messages and an electric lead performance by Hugh Jackman.

Zac Efron as Phillip Carlyle and Zendaya as Anne Wheeler in The Greatest Showman

I wish I loved The Greatest Showman more. Still, musicals have never been my genre of film. If you love musicals, you will probably get a lot of enjoyment out of The Greatest Showman. Moreover, at the same time, you may be inspired by its positive themes. I hope this happens for you because we all need inspiration at some stage in our lives.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Film Review) – Unique, Special, Outstanding

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a space opera film written and directed by Rian Johnson. It is the sequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is also the eighth instalment in the episodic saga and the ninth instalment in the Star Wars franchise. The film stars Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Daniels, Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is set in the immediate aftermath of The Force Awakens. The Resistance is on the run after the annihilation of the New Republic by Starkiller Base. The Resistance did destroy Starkiller Base in retaliation. Nonetheless, The First Order has now begun its conquest to take control of the galaxy and crush The Resistance. The only hope for the galaxy is Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the last Jedi. Rey (Daisy Ridley) seeks to learn from Luke. However, she struggles to convince a damaged, bitter Luke to overcome the past, teach her and save the galaxy.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were my most anticipated films in the years they respectively came out. Hence, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was my most anticipated film of 2017. I think The Force Awakens and Rogue One are great films. They restored my faith in Lucasfilm after the dark days of the Prequels and the Special Editions.

In addition to Lucasfilm, my faith in Rian Johnson to deliver a great Star Wars film was through the roof. I loved his work on Looper and I expected a fresh, different take on Star Wars from him which is what I wanted. At the same time, I wanted The Last Jedi to still have the feel of a Star Wars film.

X-Wing in a Space Battle Over D'Qar in Star Wars The Last Jedi

What I mean by that is the lived-in look of the Star Wars universe. This comes from using practical effects and filming at real locations. You know, the approach to filmmaking which was established in the Original Trilogy. I adored how The Force Awakens reintroduced us to the original feel of Star Wars. Rogue One then followed suit and I could not wait for more of this in The Last Jedi.

Obviously, I knew CGI was going to be used in The Last Jedi just as it was in The Force Awakens and Rogue One. I have no problem with that. As long as it is blended in well with the real locations and practical effects, I am cool with CGI being used. I never want an over-reliance on or overabundance of CGI in Star Wars. That is one of the many reasons why I do not like the Prequels. Thankfully, The Force Awakens and Rogue One had the right blend of practical and digital effects.

The Trailers Promised Us A Unique Star Wars Film

As long as The Last Jedi had that same lived-in feel that the Original Trilogy, The Force Awakens and Rogue One had then Rian Johnson could take the film in any direction he wanted to from a story perspective. This itself was guaranteed to happen. Looper is evidence of how original Rian Johnson is as a director and writer.

That is why I did not understand the view that this film would be a clone of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Just from the trailers for The Last Jedi, you could tell this would not be the case. The film looked different and original from a storytelling perspective which I loved and wanted to see.

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Once the positive reaction for the film was coming out after its world premiere, every day felt like a week. I could not contain my excitement, especially when it came to the return of Luke Skywalker. To see Luke return to the big screen and get more insight into how he got to a state of mind where he wanted the Jedi to end fascinated me. Luke’s relationship with Rey looked interesting too.

Seeing the development of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the final performance of Carrie Fisher as Leia also added to my anticipation. Certainly, Kylo Ren is a villain with a lot of depth and complexity. I wanted to see that developed more. Moreover, watching Carrie Fisher for the final time as Leia would stir a lot of emotions in me. Her passing was tragic and to see where Leia would go in The Last Jedi played on my mind.

Where I Expected/Hoped Star Wars: The Last Jedi Would Rank Amongst Other Star Wars Films

After hearing so many good things about The Last Jedi, I thought the film would be good. If The Last Jedi was better than The Force Awakens and Rogue One, then I would be delighted. Obviously, I never expect any Star Wars film to be better than the films in the Original Trilogy. The films in that trilogy are my Top 3 favourite Star Wars films.

For me, the Original Trilogy, in its original form, is as close to perfect as you can get. Yet, I know my view on the Original Trilogy is embedded in nostalgia. Hence, it is very difficult for any new Star Wars film to eclipse the films in the Original Trilogy. However, if The Last Jedi somehow managed to achieve the near impossible feat and crack into my Top 3 favourite Star Wars films, I would be over the moon.

Praetorian Guards in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Evidently, I had high hopes for The Last Jedi. As I said above, I wanted The Last Jedi to be different and original with its storytelling. Simultaneously, I wanted the film to still utilise real locations, practical sets and practical effects so it would have the same lived-in feel that I love in Star Wars. If this happened, then I was confident that I would, as a minimum, regard The Last Jedi as being a good film and a worthy sequel to The Force Awakens.

My Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

As I am writing this, I have seen The Last Jedi twice. I needed a second viewing before writing my review. Truly, the film gives you a lot to process. For me, it was essential to see it a second time so I could let the film sink in. After my first viewing, I thought The Last Jedi was a great film. It was so great that I ranked the film above The Force Awakens and Rogue One without hesitation.

Still, I needed to see it a second time so I could watch the events that occur in The Last Jedi in a calm manner. I could then appreciate the film for what it was on a greater level. Indeed, shocking moments are plentiful in The Last Jedi. In your first viewing, the film takes a lot out of you. It eradicates any belief about how you thought the story would unfold but in the best possible way.

A second viewing would allow me to watch the film knowing these moments are coming. I could just let the whole film envelop me in its quality. After my second viewing, I have come to a conclusion; I LOVE The Last Jedi. I absolutely love it. It is an outstanding Star Wars film. It was even better seeing the film for the second time because I could watch it without fear. Certainly, processing events when you know they are coming really improved my experience with the film on my second viewing.

Vulptex on Crait in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Is In My Top 3 Favourite Star Wars Films

In fact, seeing The Last Jedi for a second time led me to another essential truth. Remarkably, Rian Johnson has accomplished what I believed was a near impossible feat; The Last Jedi is one of my Top 3 favourite Star Wars films. In fact, I rank The Last Jedi as being second only to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi as my favourite Star Wars film. Yes, I prefer The Last Jedi to The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: A New Hope.

I understand if you are shocked by this statement. Still, it is just my opinion. No Star Wars film has emotionally impacted me this much since I watched Return of the Jedi for the first time as a child. This became apparent to me during my second viewing of the film. As I said, I needed a second viewing because I was somewhat in shock after my first experience with The Last Jedi.

Truly, The Last Jedi is a ballsy, unique film which, in a great way, left me stunned. Indeed, on my first viewing, my mouth was agape during certain moments in The Last Jedi. Some of the moments in this film rank amongst the best of the Star Wars franchise. I appreciated those shocking moments and the emotional moments of this film so much more during my second viewing.

You better believe that they are plentiful in The Last Jedi. Still, if a film does not have great acting from its cast, it will fail in its emotional moments. Thankfully, this is not the case with The Last Jedi. The performances are immaculate. Indeed, I would argue that no Star Wars film has ever had the quality of acting that is on show in The Last Jedi.

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker with Jedi Texts on Ahch-To in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker

Every single cast member brings their A-game to The Last Jedi. For me, the performance which shone above all the rest was given by Mark Hamill. Mark Hamill has never been better as Luke Skywalker. Never. The performance he gives in The Last Jedi is so layered and has so much nuance that I was captivated by him from beginning to end. I loved seeing how much Luke has changed since Return of the Jedi. Indeed, you see that Luke is bitter, broken and filled with regret at his failings.

To see how Luke became so broken and a shell of his former self was heart-breaking to see. Yet, it felt completely believable once you see why he became the way he was in The Last Jedi. Luke was no longer the impatient, naïve, good-willed farm-boy we saw in the Original Trilogy. Certainly, people change as they get older and traumatic events can drastically change someone’s beliefs and outlook on everything.

As we saw in The Last Jedi, Luke has been through a lot. Therefore, to see such a radically changed Luke Skywalker made complete sense to me. I was enthralled with the arc of Luke Skywalker in this film. Mark Hamill did a great job at portraying Luke in the way he was in The Last Jedi. The direction Rian Johnson took with Luke in The Last Jedi was outstanding. In fact, for me, it was perfect. I would not change one thing about it.

Luke and Rey

In addition to the way Luke Skywalker was handled and Mark Hamill’s brilliant individual performance as Luke in The Last Jedi, the scenes involving Luke and Rey were also fantastic. We have been waiting to see these two together since the end of The Force Awakens. For me. it delivered on every level. As you can imagine, Luke was not receptive to Rey. He wanted to divorce himself from the idea of training another Jedi.

Daisy Ridley as Rey and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Still, eventually Rey did learn from Luke but not through training as a Jedi. Instead, it was through Luke insisting that the Jedi had to end and why this should happen that Rey learned more about The Force and her role in the galaxy. Both Luke and Rey learnt from one another through interactions and events that were fascinating to watch. This is especially true when it related to the character who was at the core of their relationship; Kylo Ren.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is quickly becoming one of my favourite things about this new Star Wars trilogy. For a character like Kylo Ren, it would be easy for a less talented actor to come across as whiny, annoying and unrelatable. Just look at Hayden Christensen’s awful performances as Anakin Skywalker in the Prequels. Although, that was not entirely his fault.

You need a good director to get the best performances out of your cast. Hayden did not have that with George Lucas. Adam Driver certainly has a great director in Rian Johnson to bring out the best possible performance from him. He is awesome as Kylo Ren. This character has so much complexity to him that you cannot help but be compelled whenever he is on screen.

Rey and Kylo Ren

This was particularly the case in his scenes with Rey. Aside from the great acting showcased by both Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley in their scenes together, those scenes also did something even more brilliant for The Last Jedi and the Star Wars franchise in general. Rey and Kylo Ren were separated by light years for the majority of the film. But, they were able to communicate with each other through The Force. It was unlike anything we have ever seen in a Star Wars film.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren in Star Wars The Last Jedi

It was but one of a few ways that the mythology of The Force was brilliantly expanded upon in The Last Jedi. I thought the dynamic between Rey and Kylo Ren was one of the best things about The Last Jedi. Darkness rose and light met it. Their relationship had twists and turns, especially when it came to exploring the backstory of Kylo Ren’s betrayal of Luke. That event itself incorporated the use of flashbacks which I really liked. The relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren was well developed in The Last Jedi. I cannot wait to see more of this dynamic in Star Wars: Episode IX.

Great Pacing Meant That I Was Hooked From Beginning To End

The scenes with Rey and Kylo Ren were evenly spaced out throughout the film. This was a factor amongst many which gave The Last Jedi such great momentum. For me, the pacing in The Last Jedi was fantastic. The film flew by. This is some achievement given how it is the longest ever Star Wars film at two-and-a-half hours. For me, length is never an issue with a film when it comes to how engaged you are.

It is pacing and whether a film has unnecessary scenes which can make a film boring. This was where a film such as Silence suffered because that film drags. The Last Jedi never drags. Every storyline either served the progression of the story, led to important character development or both. From the beginning, the film grips you and never lets you go. In fact, not since A New Hope has a Star Wars film given me this feeling.

Indeed, The Last Jedi starts with The Resistance fleeing D’Qar and a confrontation ensues with The First Order. Inevitably, this leads to a great space battle that throws you right into the action. Moreover, it does a great job at making you feel the desperation of the situation The Resistance is in. You do not know how this confrontation will play out on your first viewing. I was on the edge of my seat because of this reality. You feel every loss The Resistance suffers and one in particular is very emotional, particularly when you find out how it connects to Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran).

D'Qar Space Battle Between The Resistance and The First Order in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Rose Tico

Rose Tico was one of the new characters that was introduced to us in The Last Jedi. She was a maintenance worker aboard The Raddus, Leia’s flagship (Nice link to Admiral Raddus in Rogue One). Once she meets Finn (John Boyega), she gets thrust into the conflict that took her sister’s life. Out of all the new characters introduced in The Last Jedi, she was my favourite.

I liked Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) a lot too. Certainly, reading Claudia Grey’s Leia: Princess of Alderaan helped in that regard. This is because you get some great insight into her character and the relationship she established with Leia. I also thought DJ (Benecio del Toro) served a vital role when it came to Finn’s character development. Still, Rose was my favourite new character.

This is probably because she gets the most screen time out of all the new characters in The Last Jedi. Consequently, we get to know more about her and connect to her in the process. Kelly Marie Tran gives a great performance as Rose, especially when you consider that, similar to Daisy Ridley in The Force Awakens, this was her first role in a major film.

Rose and Finn

I also thought that Rose and Finn had a good relationship in the film. I bought the relationship they had, particularly when it came to the romantic side because it was all one way. Clearly, it is evident that Finn likes Rey while Rose likes Finn. Rose makes that evident at one moment in The Last Jedi.

Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico and John Boyega as Finn on Canto Bight in Star Wars The Last Jedi

She was a fan-girl of Finn from the beginning so it made sense that she liked him. It also made sense that Finn was confused about that when the moment occurs. That moment also has a brilliant line given by Rose about how the way to win is fighting for what you love which was very uplifting in a situation devoid of hope.

The Comedy and Cinematography

The first time that Rose and Finn met was one of the many brilliant comedic moments in The Last Jedi. I loved the comedy in the film. I was laughing out loud throughout, especially when it was at the expense of General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson). I also loved the Porgs and the comedic role they had in the film. Aside from being incredibly cute, they were used in the right amount during the film. The Porgs never annoyed me and their interactions with Chewbacca were hilarious. I give a lot of credit to the script Rian Johnson wrote in regards to how great the comedy was in The Last Jedi.

Another aspect of The Last Jedi which delivered in spades was the cinematography. The imagery in The Last Jedi is some of the best I have ever seen in a Star Wars film. Of course, the shot of The Raddus going to hyperspace to destroy the First Order ships who had been pursuing The Resistance was breathtakingly stunning. I was mesmerised by the way it looked in addition to how sound, or a lack thereof, was used to make this moment an all-time great one for the Star Wars franchise. I had never seen anything like it in a film and I doubt I ever will again.

The Themes of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

From a visual standpoint, The Last Jedi was brilliant. Nonetheless, a lot of the richer qualities of the film came from its themes. Certainly, the themes that were showcased gave The Last Jedi a lot depth and provided some great character development.

Carrie Fisher as Leia and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron on The Raddus in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Duty and Leadership

For one, the arc of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in the film showcased the themes of duty and leadership. This was in regards to Poe’s role in The Resistance. We see Poe as the hot-headed fighter pilot who makes rash decisions without thinking of the wider consequences. Leia reprimands him for this because she knew that Poe had to be the leader The Resistance needed at that time. Throughout The Last Jedi, Poe tries to give The Resistance a fighting chance.

However, he just makes matters worse. He failed in his attempts to help and lacked the trust in his superiors to know what they were doing. Clearly, this would be hard to take for someone as confident in their own ability as Poe. Yet, by the end of The Last Jedi, he finally takes up the mantle as the leader The Resistance and Leia needs him to be. He learns what it means to be a leader.

This is going to be vital in the fight against The First Order in Episode IX. Poe had to go through what he did in The Last Jedi to ensure The Resistance can be the spark of hope the galaxy needs. Because of this, I really liked how Poe was fleshed out in The Last Jedi. In fact, I find it to be one of the more underrated aspects of the film.

Morality

The arc of Finn in The Last Jedi is also not being appreciated in the way it should be. Indeed, Finn went through a lot of soul searching in The Last Jedi. For me, the theme that was most prevalent in his arc of the film was morality. In The Force Awakens, we see that Finn wants to get away from the First Order and protect Rey. Nothing more, nothing less.

Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron on Crait in Star Wars The Last Jedi

He is not fully committed to The Resistance and that continues into The Last Jedi. However, the journey he goes on in this film exposed him to the morality of war. A conversation he has with DJ after escaping from Canto Bight is key to this. It exposed him to the reality that those who profit from war and suffering in the galaxy do not care which side they supply weapons too. This shocks Finn to his core and makes him question everything he knew. His exposure to greed and corruption makes him think about the larger picture, not just his own situation.

What Finn learns in his time on Canto Bight and with DJ was the catalyst for Finn to eventually choose a side in this war instead of running away. He is now fully committed to The Resistance and this was important for his growth as a character. I noticed this more on my second viewing. Consequently, I appreciated the stuff on Canto Bight to a greater degree than I did on my first viewing.

Failure

While Rose and Finn’s accomplishments on Canto Bight were all for nothing when it came to helping The Resistance, it emphasised the theme of failure. I loved how prevalent this theme was in the film. In fact, I would argue that this is the main theme of The Last Jedi. Let us get this clear; The Resistance unequivocally failed in The Last Jedi.

On almost every level, everything they tried in order to escape from The First Order did not work. On a side note, I will say that the way The First Order tracked down The Resistance reminded me of an episode of Battlestar Galactica called ‘33’. While I have very mixed feelings on that television series, that episode is absolutely brilliant. It is one of the best episodes in that series and I liked how The Last Jedi was influenced by that particular episode of Battlestar Galactica.

Carrie Fisher as Leia on The Raddus in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Just like the way in which the Cylons mercilessly hunted the remnants of humanity in ‘33’, The Resistance were ruthlessly pursued by The First Order in The Last Jedi. Indeed, it got to a stage where The Resistance was on its last legs on Crait, desperate to survive. When it came to the theme of failure, I found its prevalence in The Last Jedi to be very similar to The Empire Strikes Back. That is another Star Wars film where are heroes fail throughout the film. Failure was an important lesson for the Rebel Alliance and it will be an important lesson for The Resistance. Indeed, we learn more from our failings than our successes.

Yoda

This is something which Yoda explained to Luke in The Last Jedi. Yes, Yoda makes an appearance in The Last Jedi. For me, it was one of the best scenes in the film. The way Yoda was used in this film was absolutely brilliant. Even now, Yoda provided guidance for Luke as he helps Luke get to a stage where he can accept his failures and learn from them. Yoda provided a lot of wisdom while still having the same charm he had in the Original Trilogy.

The voice for Yoda was perfect. Frank Oz came back to voice Yoda and he sounded exactly like he did in the Original Trilogy. I will admit, on my first viewing, I was taken aback by the initial look of Yoda. On a first look, it did seem different. However, it got better as the scene progressed. Moreover, once I found out that the original moulds of Yoda from the Original Trilogy were used to create the puppet for The Last Jedi, it made the scene even better on my second viewing. On my second viewing, I appreciated how close Yoda’s look was to his look in the Original Trilogy.

The Flaws of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

As you can see, I have a lot of love for The Last Jedi. Still, no film is perfect. Every film has flaws. Even the Original Trilogy has elements that I can nit-pick. The Last Jedi is no different and I do have some minor problems with the film. Firstly, Canto Bight. Now, as I mentioned above, I appreciated the stuff on Canto Bight a lot more than I did on my first viewing because of what it does for the character development of Finn.

John Boyega as Finn and Gwendoline Christie as Phasma in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Moreover, while it eventually has no impact on the main story in The Last Jedi, it showcased the theme of failure in a great way. I have seen people hate on Canto Bight because it has no impact on the main storyline. I do not understand why. If you hate the fact that some storylines do not succeed, you should hate a lot of The Empire Strikes Back. The decisions that the characters make in that film fail. As a consequence, the characters and the storylines in that film do not reach their desired conclusion.

The Rebel Alliance tries to successfully fight the Empire on Hoth? They fail, the Rebel Alliance gets crushed and are on the retreat. Luke learns to be a Jedi from Yoda? He consistently fails in his training and leaves before it is finished. Han Solo and Leia go to Cloud City for help and to get the Millennium Falcon fixed? They fail, Lando betrays them and they get captured and tortured by Darth Vader. Luke goes to rescue Han and Leia on Cloud City? He fails, he has his hand cut off by Darth Vader who turns out to be his father. Both The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back are about failure.

The Falthiers

Certain storylines in those films are eventually all for nothing. Yet, the beauty of this is that this pushes the characters forward as well as the overall narrative being told in their respective trilogies. Canto Bight did this for me. However, I do feel as though they could have done things better with that storyline. Firstly, the weakest scene in The Last Jedi happens on Canto Bight. This is when Finn and Rose escape by freeing the Falthiers and ride them through the casino and surrounding town areas. The Falthiers are horse-like creatures and the use of them in this escape scene was very CGI heavy.

In fact, too much CGI was used for my liking. This was a shame as a lot of the film is very practical effect heavy. Indeed, the Falthiers themselves were practical when they were poking their heads out at the stables in an earlier scene. But, CGI was clearly used when they were escaping with Finn and Rose. That particular scene did not work for me. A better way could have been found for Rose and Finn to escape the casino while, at the same time, wrecking the place and hurting the rich in the process. That was a specific scene on Canto Bight which could have been executed better.

BB-8 in Star Wars The Last Jedi

BB-8 and Phasma

Another flaw of The Last Jedi is that BB-8 was a bit better in The Force Awakens than he was in The Last Jedi. I did like BB-8 in The Last Jedi. Yet, a scene on Canto Bight where he effectively uses a coin gun on a prison guard was silly. I understand that this was for kids. Still, it is another scene on Canto Bight that could have been executed better. Apart from that scene, BB-8 was great. However, it did put a dampener on how much I enjoyed BB-8 in this film compared to The Force Awakens.

Another flaw of The Last Jedi which I consider to be one of the most disappointing aspects of the film was Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). Before I saw The Last Jedi, I read Phasma. This was a canonical Star Wars novel written by Delilah S. Dawson. I loved that novel. I learned so much more about Phasma and how much of a ruthless badass she is. This made it all the more painful that her role in The Last Jedi was so minimal and underwhelming.

Like The Force Awakens, Phasma was a waste in this film. This sucked if you read the book before seeing The Last Jedi. While I liked the fact that she had a fight scene with Finn this time, it was negated when you see that she apparently dies. True, we did not see her die but it is heavily suggested. She could re-appear in Episode IX. If she does, then I pray that her role is bigger. If not, then I am resigned to the fact that, for me, she is just another Boba Fett; a character with a cool look that has a very limited role in the films.

My Thoughts on Some Star Wars Fans’ Negative Reaction To Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Still, the flaws in the film are minor. They did not take away from my love for The Last Jedi. However, not everyone feels the same way I do. Like The Force Awakens, some people do not like The Last Jedi. Actually, some hate it so much that a petition was created to remove the film from Star Wars canon. Clearly, some people did not react positively to some of the events that happened in The Last Jedi.

Kylo Ren's Destroyed Mask in Star Wars The Last Jedi

This film takes chances and takes the characters in directions that people did not expect. And that is the problem; expectations. I truly believe that most of the backlash towards the film is down to some Star Wars fans’ expectations and predictions not coming true. Consequently, they are acting like crybabies. They wasted two years of their life speculating about what would happen to such a degree that they thought they had the whole plot of the film mapped out in their heads.

This is a terrible thing to do. You will be unable to separate expectations from what actually happens in the film. Hence, even if the film is fantastic, you will not be happy because your ideas about what would happen did not come to pass. Most of the criticism I have seen directed toward the film appears to be purely driven by the fact that some fans are butthurt that their predictions for what would happen in The Last Jedi did not come true.

You have to leave your expectations at the door when going to see a film. You must go in with an open mind. I do not believe that every Star Wars fan did this. For me, this is a key reason why some fans have had such a negative reaction to The Last Jedi.

Rey

I want to focus on elements of The Last Jedi that angered some fans. Then, I want to give my reasons as to why they worked for me. Firstly, Rey. For two years, I have suffered through ridiculous fan fiction and theories about Rey and her parents. Even though The Force Awakens makes it abundantly clear that Rey’s parents are not important, some fans ignored this. Everything had to be connected for them. Speculation about Rey’s parentage was unstoppable based on a foundation that was never established in The Force Awakens.

Daisy Ridley as Rey Holding A Lightsaber on Ahch-To in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Some fans clung on to this ridiculous belief that Rey’s parentage was important. In The Last Jedi, it is revealed that Rey knew all along who her parents were; no one. She comes from nothing. I adore this reveal. For one, it expands the universe. We have a character who is not connected to any previous Star Wars character. Moreover, it proves that Rey is a hero not because of some bloodline or prophecy. She is a hero because of her actions.

Additionally, it proves that heroes can come from anywhere at any time. That is a very inspirational message for The Last Jedi to portray through both Rey and its final scene. In the final scene of the film, we see a child slave from Canto Bight use The Force to pick up a broom. He then looks at the stars with defiance. This shows that The Force is always sowing the seeds to achieve balance. The Light Side of The Force will always be there through Force-sensitive users like Rey and the child slave, i.e. Broom Kid, to provide balance to The Dark Side. I thought this was a beautiful sentiment. Moreover, it shows that the story of Star Wars is bigger than the Skywalkers.

Luke Skywalker

Some Star Wars fans must accept this. Moving away from the Skywalkers is the only way the franchise can survive and flourish. This is especially the case now that Kylo Ren is the last person alive with Skywalker lineage. Indeed, Luke Skywalker meets his end in The Last Jedi. Before I talk about his death, we must talk about the backlash towards Luke in The Last Jedi.

I have seen some Star Wars fans argue that this film is a betrayal to the character of Luke. According to them, Luke would never want the Jedi to end. He would fight The First Order. He would not seclude himself from the galaxy and detach himself from The Force after a tragic event. I mean, when has a Jedi ever refused to fight again and go into hiding after failing and allowing The Dark Side to rise? Oh yeah, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda did exactly that after the rise of the Empire!

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 Watching The Destruction of Luke's Jedi Temple in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Some Star Wars fans seem to forget that Jedi have done this when things go wrong. This is just one of the many ways that their logic about Luke Skywalker comes crashing down. For me, the logic they have stems from a belief that Luke would be the same person he was in the Original Trilogy. Jesus Christ, thirty years have passed between Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi!

Not thirty days, not thirty weeks, thirty years. People change over thirty years of life. No one stays the same person during this span of time. Anyone who thinks the opposite is deluding themselves and, consequently, deluding themselves that Luke would be the same idealistic, good-willed person in The Last Jedi as he was in the Original Trilogy.

I Believe That Luke Is Right About The Jedi

In the Original Trilogy, we see Luke as someone who idolises the Jedi. That idolisation is gone now because he sees the Jedi Order for what it is; outdated. It was brilliant to see Luke call out the flaws and failings of the Jedi Order. This is in regards to the hypocrisy of the Jedi Order and how, in the past, they believed they had some kind of patent on The Force. It was as though they thought they could be the only harbingers of The Light Side. Luke is right to call this as it is; vanity.

The Force moves through all living things. The Light Side is all around us, not just with the Jedi. To say that only those part of a religious order can be the only ones capable of doing good through The Light Side of The Force is wrong. Balance in The Force is not achieved this way. The failure of the Jedi to see this was a factor in its consistent failings and eventual downfall.

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker on the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Luke was right to see the Jedi Order as outdated. Still, it now has a chance to evolve with Rey. This goes back to what Yoda told Luke about Jedi Masters and their apprentices; “we are what they grow beyond”. This was another beautiful sentiment in The Last Jedi. It also renewed Luke’s desire to save the galaxy and provide hope one last time.

Luke Is The Catalyst For Ben Solo’s Turn To The Dark Side

Still, before he did this, Luke had to overcome his demons. I loved how The Last Jedi portrayed Luke as a broken man. A man whose failings deeply affected his outlook on everything. Luke Skywalker is a flawed person, not a legend. This is something acknowledged by Luke whose legendary status and commitment to the Jedi led to his ultimate failure. Indeed, Luke was the catalyst for Ben Solo to turn to The Dark Side and become Kylo Ren.

Throughout The Last Jedi, we see flashbacks offering different perspectives of how Ben turned to The Dark Side. In the end, we finally learn the truth. We see Luke is very affected when, through The Force, he realises that darkness is consuming Ben. He has a moment of weakness where he contemplates killing Ben. In essence, this will stop the atrocities Ben will commit in the future as an agent of evil. However, Luke knows that killing Ben is not the Jedi way. Instead, it is the quick and easy path; a path to The Dark Side. He immediately stops himself but the damage is done.

Ben sees Luke standing over him, lightsaber in hand, and thinks the worst. At that moment, all Luke sees in Ben’s eyes is a scared pupil whose master failed him, not darkness. Luke feels great shame about his actions. This proves that, even though Ben Solo was already being turned by Snoke, Luke’s moment of weakness is the catalyst for Ben to fully turn to The Dark Side. Luke is distraught about how he failed Leia and Han’s son, his own nephew. This would break anyone’s spirit. Therefore, for me, it is easy to see how Luke became so regretful and bitter.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren Holding His Red Lightsaber on Crait in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Luke’s Moment of Weakness Makes Sense

I have seen the argument that Luke would never consider killing Ben Solo. Really? You think the person who briefly considered killing Darth Vader, his own father, in Return of the Jedi would not briefly consider killing someone who could become another Darth Vader? Guess what, he would. It is within Luke to do this. He is a flawed individual. It makes complete sense why Luke would have this moment of weakness.

The last thing Luke would have wanted was for the past to repeat itself. He would do anything to make sure that the evil he thought was defeated could never rise again. You would do the same. That is why Luke briefly considered killing Ben. He saw the darkness within Ben and the atrocities he would commit across the galaxy as Kylo Ren. Yet, Luke stops himself from doing this. He knows that killing Ben leads down a path to The Dark Side. Still, in letting go of that willingness to make sure Ben does not commit these evil acts by killing him, Luke proves to be the facilitator for The Dark Side to rise once again.

From a certain point of view, it was Luke’s own doing and commitment to the Jedi way that initiated a resurgence of everything he thought he defeated decades ago. It is clear why Luke would be ashamed, bitter and unwilling to teach Rey the Jedi principles. It is because those principles always seem to fail and lead to history repeating itself. Luke himself said that the deeds and history of the Jedi is one of failure. This realisation came from his own failure with Ben. That experience crippled his faith in the Jedi way, Again, the theme of failure is prevalent and drives Luke’s arc in The Last Jedi.

Luke and Leia

Failure was also a focal point of his conversation with Yoda. For me, that conversation is critical in making Luke decide to help The Resistance on Crait. The Resistance were about to be wiped out by The First Order on Crait. However, Luke turns up at the last minute to make up for his past failures, save The Resistance and provide a spark of hope in the galaxy one last time. Consequently, he is reunited with Leia. Luke’s scene with Leia is extremely emotional. Of course, seeing Luke and Leia together after being years apart was a great moment.

Millennium Falcon on Crait in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Their conversation was one of many touching moments in The Last Jedi. Others include Luke’s reunion with R2-D2 on Ahch-To as well as Luke’s death which I promise I will discuss soon. Before I do this, I have to talk about how the death of Carrie Fisher made Leia’s reunion with Luke as emotional as it was. Luke tells Leia that “no one is ever really gone”. Clearly, whether it was intentional or not, the line has a double meaning.

Within the context of The Last Jedi, Luke is referencing Han Solo. Indeed, he gives Han’s dice, which he found on the Millennium Falcon, to Leia to symbolise this. From that perspective, that moment is emotional enough. However, that line also has meaning when it comes to the passing of Carrie Fisher. When you factor this into the scene, it makes it incredibly sad and moving. Moreover, it perfectly sets up one of the most incredible moments in Star Wars history.

Force Projection

When Luke appears on Crait, you notice something different. He looks younger, his hair is different, his beard is trimmed. Still, you think nothing of it. It is only when Luke faces down The First Order and Kylo Ren that you realise the truth; Luke is not physically on Crait. Indeed, Luke is still on Ahch-To but he is projecting himself through The Force to appear on Crait. He is using a Force power never seen in a Star Wars film.

Again, it is another way The Last Jedi deepens the mythology and mystery of The Force. The mystery of The Force is one of the many elements I love about the Original Trilogy. The Last Jedi continues to expand the mystery of The Force through the power of Force projection that Luke showed. The communication that occurred between Kylo Ren and Rey and the power that Yoda showed as a Force ghost to destroy the tree on Ahch-To are also examples of this.

Rey Using The Force on Ahch-To in Star Wars The Last Jedi

The Force

I have no problem with how The Force was expanded upon in The Last Jedi. It added to the mystery of The Force which is how it was always explored in the Original Trilogy. The Force always evolves, new powers are discovered and it becomes more mysterious in the process. I always want this to happen. We have to remember that, at its core, Star Wars is more fantasy than science fiction. Not everything needs to be explained.

Moreover, when it came to Yoda influencing the real world, we must remember Obi-Wan’s line in A New Hope; “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”. I think we saw that very clearly in The Last Jedi when it came to Yoda. In theory, anyone complaining about the new Force powers which were introduced in The Last Jedi should have hated the fact that Emperor Palpatine uses Force Lightning in Return of the Jedi. That came out of nowhere and it was not explained. Yet, no one cared.

Luke’s Heroic End

Therefore, the way The Force was expanded and still left mysterious in The Last Jedi should not matter now. Moreover, Luke makes up for everything by using the greatest use of Force power we have ever seen. It was an awesome moment. He became the hero the galaxy needed one last time. He bought The Resistance enough time to escape. By doing this, he died with purpose.

The death of Luke is something that did not surprise me. For one, as Kylo Ren said to Rey, the effort to use Force projection would kill her. It would take a severe toll on anyone, even someone as powerful as Luke. The other reason why Luke’s death was not a surprise is due to the purpose of this sequel trilogy. This whole trilogy is about letting go of the old and bringing in the new. That includes Luke. Still, that reality did not make seeing Luke become one with The Force less sad. However, dying as a symbol of hope for the galaxy, as a hero, was a fitting end for the character.

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker on Crait in Star Wars The Last Jedi

It was even more fitting when you see that Luke dies while looking at the setting of Ahch-To’s twin suns. The boy on Tatooine who gazed at Tatooine’s twin suns in A New Hope with wonder and a desire to be more dies looking at Ahch-To’s twin suns with purpose and fulfilment. Despite his ups and downs, Luke’s final act means that his legendary status in the galaxy is now eternal. For me, that is the best way Luke could have died. As you can tell, I loved the way Luke Skywalker was used in The Last Jedi.

Snoke

Snoke was another character in The Last Jedi who was used brilliantly. He was very menacing and the scenes he had with Kylo Ren and Rey in his throne room were awesome. Still, again, I have seen some backlash. This is in relation to the fact that Snoke died at the hands of Kylo Ren. On my first viewing, I was stunned that this happened but I loved it. Weirdly, some people were furious that Snoke died without any backstory being given too him.

Again, this stems from some Star Wars fans becoming too attached to their precious Snoke theories. I mean, come on, they were completely stupid. Was he a clone of The Emperor? Was he Mace Windu? (Yes, idiotic enough as that does sound, that was a theory). Some fans expected detailed answers to be spoon-fed to them when it came to Snoke’s backstory.

Again, Why Is This A Big Deal?

I do not get this backlash about Snoke dying. The people upset about Snoke dying are forgetting this simple fact; we never knew anything about Emperor Palpatine in the Original Trilogy. He was just a powerful, evil bad guy. Just like Snoke was. Also, guess what? The Emperor died! Just like Snoke! Remember? The backstory to Palpatine came later. I am confident that the backstory to Snoke will be revealed in the future. Whether it is in a book or perhaps Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars trilogy, it will come.

Snoke's Throne Room in Star Wars The Last Jedi

For me, I contest that we got just as much time with Snoke as we did with The Emperor in the Original Trilogy. That is why I do not get the anger when it comes to Snoke’s demise. Patience is needed for the answers to this character. Again, not everything needs to be explained all at once. ­Besides, why would you keep Snoke around when you have a more compelling and complex villain in Kylo Ren?

Like the reveal of Rey being no one, the death of Snoke and withholding of answers about him was another slap in the face to the idiotic fan speculation I have had to suffer through since The Force Awakens. I could not love this any more than I already do. I have discussed the problems some had with Rey, Luke, The Force and Snoke in The Last Jedi. Other things in The Last Jedi have also attracted criticism that I do not necessarily agree with. For instance, I have seen the argument that, if Luke did not want to be found, why did he create a map?

Luke Did Not Create The Map!

Well, Luke did not create the map. The map to Luke which everyone craved in The Force Awakens was created out of old records salvaged from the Empire’s archives. Indeed, after the fall of the Jedi, the Empire searched for thousands of Jedi temples located across the galaxy. They eventually found the locations of the first Jedi temples like the one on Ahch-To. From the archives, The First Order was able to acquire most of the map to these Jedi temples.

However, the vital part of that map was in the possession of Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow). Moreover, R2-D2 had downloaded most of the Empire’s archives on the Death Star. This included the map to the Jedi temples which he could recover by going into low power mode. R2 was able to sort through the plethora of information contained in the Empire’s archives. By doing this, he created his own incomplete version of the map. Hence, as we saw in The Force Awakens, when you combined Lor San Tekka’s piece of the map with R2-D2’s incomplete copy of the map, The Resistance were able to find Ahch-To and Luke with it.

AT-M6 on Crait in Star Wars The Last Jedi

So, let me make this pretty clear; Luke NEVER wanted to be found. This is why you see his shock when he sees Rey on Ahch-To with his old lightsaber at the end of The Force Awakens. This belief that Luke created the map is utterly false. In turn, this renders the complaints some people had about this aspect of The Last Jedi to be completely unfounded. The map’s existence was possible due to the desire of The First Order and The Resistance to find Luke. Luke had no part in its creation and The Force Awakens made that clear.

Leia In Space

Honestly, when it comes to the issue of the map and Rey’s parentage, I wonder whether some Star Wars fans were paying any attention to what was said in The Force Awakens. That film clearly states that Rey’s parents are no one of significance and the map was not Luke’s doing. Something that was clear for all of us to see in The Last Jedi was, after the bridge of The Raddus is destroyed, Leia uses The Force to guide her back to the ship.

I was completely fine with this happening. She is Force-sensitive and she is in the vacuum of space. Hence, she can use The Force to give her the slightest bit of momentum which, in space, will send her back to The Raddus with ease. If the issue is with the way it looked when she sent herself back to The Raddus, then I would understand as that may not be for everyone. Still, if she used two hands, this would make her look like Superman. Reaching out through The Force with one hand was the only thing to do that would not look completely stupid.

How Will Leia Be Dealt With In Episode IX?

The thing that could be debated is how she survived in space. I put that down to The Force. Moreover, we have seen people survive in space before in Star Wars so that did not bother me. Besides, we see that the whole experience had an incredible toll on Leia. She is effectively in a coma for a lot of The Last Jedi. It would not surprise me if Episode IX uses this as a way to deal with Leia. Indeed, due to the death of Carrie Fisher, the character of Leia in Episode IX has become a big issue.

Leia on The Raddus Senses Kylo Ren in Star Wars The Last Jedi

If Leia is to die off-screen between the events of The Last Jedi and Episode IX, then perhaps it could be down to after-effects from her time in the vacuum of space. It left her in a critical condition of health in The Last Jedi and it may have had more of an impact than we know. I am curious to see how Leia is handled in Episode IX. However, whatever it may be, I have confidence in J. J. Abrams, who will direct Episode IX, to pay tribute to Carrie Fisher and Leia in a fitting way.

Final Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

For now, let us just appreciate The Last Jedi. I love this film. It truly is a special addition to the Star Wars franchise. I do have minor issues with the film which I have explained. Still, they do not take away from the overall brilliance of The Last Jedi. Apart from those minor flaws, I loved everything else and have explained my reasoning as to why the problems some people had with the film were not a problem for me.

Moreover, I gave my opinion as to where I believe those problems stem from. Firstly, it was from some fans clinging on to beliefs of what certain characters, such as Luke, would be like based on the past. The past is the past. People change over the years, even Luke. Secondly, some of the fans’ problems originate from clinging too much to their theories and expectations of what would happen in The Last Jedi. This itself derived from not paying attention to what was said in The Force Awakens and believing The Force Awakens established mysteries which was simply not the case.

I will not regurgitate all the things I loved about The Last Jedi. You already know what I loved if you read the review in its entirety. Well done if you did because it is long. Still, I had a lot to say about The Last Jedi!

Chewbacca and A Porg on the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars The Last Jedi

The Star Wars Community

I have one final thing to say though. If fan speculation and theories are the lifeblood of the Star Wars community, then it is rotten to its core if it leads to a place where some Star Wars fans are unable to let their expectations go when walking in to see a Star Wars film. I hope a consequence of The Last Jedi is that it will make all fans go into future Star Wars films with an open mind about what will happen.

Of course, you can have expectations when it comes to the overall quality of a film. I will not begrudge anyone for that. However, expectation about what you think will happen in any film should be left at the door. I managed to do this and it made my experience with The Last Jedi all the better for it. I appreciated the overall brilliant execution of the events in the film.

Mapping out an entire film in your head and being resolute in your belief that the film will be bad if it does not go the way you want it to is setting you up for massive disappointment. Please, do not do this in the future. It is no surprise that the majority of Star Wars fans liked The Last Jedi more on their second viewing. They appreciated the film for what it was, not what it was supposed to be in their eyes.

As I previously said, I loved the film more on my second viewing. I went from a position of thinking The Last Jedi was a great film that was better than The Force Awakens and Rogue One to a position where it is my second favourite Star Wars film ever made.

Daisy Ridley as Rey Training on Ahch-To in Star Wars The Last Jedi

The Future

Due to how much I loved The Last Jedi, I cannot wait to see what Episode IX brings us. Still, before then, we have Solo: A Star Wars Story to anticipate. Yet, as I said, speculate on quality, not events, with that film. That goes for all future Star Wars films. That way, your likelihood of disappointment will be lessened. This is especially true if the quality of future Star Wars films will be at its current level. Let us hope that this is the case. If it is, then the future of Star Wars is bright. Very bright.