I didn't watch this film with five star expectations, The Force Awakens thought me that, but The Last Jedi recovered some of the magic that you expect from a galaxy far far away, enough to pump me full of the right level of excitement to make me abandon my family to watch this over Christmas.
At the heart of it, episode nine is a tragic love story that breaks the rules, too many rules for some fans, but it's intrinsically beautiful if you can tuck yourself into the film....which may be difficult given Emperor Palpatine's unimaginative evil resurgence.
I'd consider myself a fan of the Star Wars universe (obviously) but to be honest I didn't enjoy the amount of gaps in Palpatines story and it's hard to forgive the vagueness of the sith world. The prequels created a thirst in me for sith darkness and this neat production failed to delve into the well of the darkside. Also the emperor just isn't frightfully evil enough, sure he mercilessly pops planets but what happens in the realm of galactic dictatorship, where are the riches, the bounty hunters, the cities that worship the dark lord?
I also would have liked to see more from Kylo, but I guess he's not Anakin. The movie opens with Kylo hunting down the emperor to slice him in two which would allow him to rule the first order but the encounter is weak, does he accept the emperor's rule, should there be more conflict, could these dark forces be pitted against one other for control of the Galaxy resulting in space battles like never seen before?
The outcome was a bit too Disney with a simplified showdown between Sith and Jedi, with Ren & Rey left to choose sides while that onscreen chemistry developed into the greatest love story ever told.
The film produced one of the best fight scenes in the history of Star Wars, in contrast with Anakin's fight with Obi Wan in a pit of lava, Ren & Rey dual on top of a sunken death star in the middle of the ocean with towering waves curling up around them. Cinematic, powerful, and ultimately spellbinding.
Our daz white Disney star is far more appealing in this installment also, she's a real hero and the morale goodness of the Jedi shines through her. Her battle with the darkside and forcecalls with Kylo are tantalising enough to give the story enough depth to make you root for the rebels once more.
For this alone it's worth watching how the Skywalker timeline concludes, sure it could be darker at times, like we'd all have preferred to see Cheewie being captured and tortured with some tweezers and it would have been more interesting if the emperor had a personality but it is what it is. It has all the joys of Star Wars with a gentle touch that makes this an enjoyable installment. By itself it's a classic battle of good versus evil, an endearing love story, and a hero that you can believe in. Enjoy the final Skywalker movie and may the force be with you.
Image by @elithienart