Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017) 4/5

The middle film in a trilogy can always seen like a place card holder from the first and the last adventure. Star wars has traditionally been able to avoid this with each film in it’s canon exhibiting it’s own individual story, whilst successfully adding a new narrative to the overall structure. The Last Jedi continues in this vein, as Rian Johnson’s follow-up to the fantastic The Force Awakens allows both new and old fans of the franchise to experience the spectacle of this space opera.Star_Wars_The_Last_Jedi

In a sense, narrative wise, this film is a lot paired back than the previous film and gives the audience a lot more interaction with older characters. Most notably Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, whose individual story arcs are really what holds everything together here. It’s just so rewarding to see Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher (May she Rest in Peace) interact and further instil their acting chops!

Following directly where the last film left off, The First Order are continuing their attack on the resistance, causing mighty havoc in the process. As you can imagine, there are some mighty good fight sequences here and the special effects are amazing. However, it is Johnson’s screenplay that really enables the adventure to keep at fast enough pace to forgive the rather long 150 minute screen time.

I guess what is so fascinating about this new trilogy of films is how Disney has approached them. Everything seems to be meticulous so as to welcome a younger fan base, whilst at the same time, not ostracising the audience of the previous films. The Last Jedi walks this tightrope successfully and there are enough references to the past narratives, as well as, new character additions to enthral the younger – Disney-fied – crowd.

In sum, Rian Johnsons middle film in this trilogy is successful in terms of storytelling, action, acting and special effects. It never feels lumbered and is fast paced for it’s running time. Overall, it doesn’t quite live up to the magic of The Force Awakens, however it is a very good addition to the cannon and sets up for the action packed finale.

Oblivion

Oblivion (Joseph Kosinski, 2013) 3.5/5

Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up to the middling Tron: Legacy is a very competent piece of Oblivion2013Posterscience fiction. Now, I am generally not a fan of Tom Cruise, something always just seems to be a bit off with him. However, within Oblivion, it just works so well with him in the lead role. For years he has epitomised the all American hero figure and he just seems to be having so much fun here. In fact from the moment he lands back on earth and puts on his New York cap, it’s Showtime!

Following an alien invasion 60 years ago which nearly destroyed Earth, marine commander Jack Harper is contracted to repair any damaged drones. Along with his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), their mission to ensure that the remaining alien forces are destroyed and to extract the planets final resources. Haunted by visions of the past, Jack encounters a female survivor (Olga Kurylenko) of a crashed spaceship. This woman has frequently appeared in his dreams and as they are both captured by insurgency forces, secrets are revealed about the true nature of the invasion and what it means for the future of their home planet.

Kosinski has publicly said that this film pays homage to the classical sci-fi films of the 1970’s. To some, this film doesn’t even come close to those; however you have to give it to him for producing a very clean and well balanced narrative that has a clear cut Good vs. Evil mantra. One of the problems that Oblivion has is that it just seems to be a love fest for what has come before, there doesn’t seem to be anything new. Viewers will look at this and see Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, Independence Day and War of the Worlds. For one thing I expected a young Anakin Sky Walker to pop out during the big canyon dog fight.

The entire cast throw themselves into their respective roles and are all believable. However, the whole clean-up operation does seem a wee bit Wall-E for my taste, with Melissa Leo’s ‘Sally’ resembling a little too much like the Pixar feature’s bad ass mother ship.  As such, you may find yourself playing a game of ‘spot the sci-fi reference’ rather than experiencing anything new.

Morgan Freeman’s band of merry resistance, do inject some much needed umph though and it is here where we get to the crux of Jack’s own role in the invasion. In sum, Kosinski’s film needed some good doses of Moon and Solaris in order to make it more memorable.  Tom Cruise is great though and fans will rejoice his return to form, with his New York cap on he is ready to take on anything. Heck, even his iconic Top Gun black shades make an appearance!