Director Rian Johnson’s impression is undoubtedly felt throughout this film on a visual level. The film both glistens and punches with the mesmerising energy of a director’s debut. As the cinematography is frequently breathtaking, the visual flair balances an epic grand scope pulsing of bursts of colour, with intimate destruction ravaged with emotional repercussion. The key relationships are framed symbolically and eloquently, signalling partnership, difference and defiance. Furthermore, Johnson also injects a confident intellectual premise to the film, most strikingly and at the core of the story, the concept of a crumbling aristocracy and high society. Whether it be the Jedi, those in control of consumerism, war or trends, or the figures forging themselves as legends due to presumed heritage and entitlement, the film shows that power is also found in the lower classes. Importantly, however, the film doesn’t simply suggest that tradition must be obliterated for new civilisations to be formed. The arc of the film, as well as this sequel trilogy, promotes that vacuums may emerge, and without new leaders chaos will break out. A staple of the franchise, the film highlights the idea that rulers must consider nuance and partnerships, that neither light or dark or decision one or two is perfect. These concepts are excellently raised throughout the film, with the plot brilliantly amounting to the task. However, the film also suffers from some of the franchise’s typical issues, including contrived exit strategies and plans, a second act where machinations of tasks simply act to extend conflict, an obsession with seeing icons fall supposedly unpredictably, and an ending that leaves the characters on a wider level no closer to resolution, even if they have personally developed. The editing and structure of some sequences also dilutes tension and focus by splitting dramatic sequences between multiple perspectives or settings. While these issues may act to hurt the film in moments, the overall result is definitely the series’ best, with Johnson masterfully crafting a fresh insight into the world. 4.5/5
In regard to my article following ‘The Force Awakens’ that Kylo Ren was simply the worst, he is far better in this film.