Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Unexpected narrative twist in a Disney-fied movie

The eighth instalment of the popular sci-fi franchise is finally out after two years of waiting since The Force Awakens but the film has too much Disney in it to make it as good as the original.

Director and writer: Rian Johnson

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis

Certificate: 12A

Running time: 2hrs 33mins

I was first introduced to the Star Wars franchise by my dad who would often watch the original trilogy with me and that cemented my love for the characters, the Force and the Sith.

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Then when the prequels were released, I grew up loving the worlds created by George Lucas over and over again – despite the films being slammed by fans – but nothing could beat the originals.

When I found out the Disney – who now own Lucasfilm and it appears every other major movie franchise – I was sceptical about how they could continue the current Skywalker saga when everything seemed to be resolved at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Safe to say in J.J Abrams The Force Awakens, he introduced a new threat to the galaxy, a new hero and a new Jedi turned to the Dark Side.

Although I have spoken about my dislike for the seventh instalment of the franchise, there were good and bad elements in it but it seemed like a simple rehash of Episode IV A New Hope.

And now the highly anticipated eighth movie has finally been released and I could barely contain my excitement as I love the franchise so much.

But yet again, I was disappointed.

Throughout the film there are just some parts that are simply idiotic and just like the movie before it, it seems to be too “Disney-fied” to think of it as a film on the same par as the original trilogy.

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Cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The cheesey one-liners, the comedy during serious moments just make the film go down a peg or two in the whole franchise history.

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie. It was brilliantly shot and cinematically it was stunning and the fight scenes were amazingly done and kept me on edge throughout.

But I don’t know why but new heroes – Rey (Ridley) and Finn (Boyega) – are just unlikeable and annoying characters.

OK, Rey goes on to meet Luke and begins her training as a Jedi in some way or another but the former Stormtrooper turned Resistance fighter Finn barely had any character development at all.

Would I be bothered if either of these characters die in Episode IX? Probably not.

Of course with the return of Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher as Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and General Leia Organa helped the movie and I think I was only on the edge of my seat in case any of these characters died.

Although, without giving away spoilers, one scene that involved Leia was just downright ridiculous.

Not many of the other supporting characters – Chewbacca and Captain Phasma – had much to do in this movie and would appear for roughly around 10 minutes, which is absurd considering the film is one of the longest in the franchise history.

One element of the movie that I found particularly interesting was the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren (Driver) – who portrayed the confused and torn former Jedi brilliantly!

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Rian Johnson, Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley

They have the ability to see and speak to each other even when on different sides of the galaxy and although it was a new input to the Jedi, it often felt like they were more pen pals and seem to become friends.

After watching the movie, I came to the conclusion that the new trilogy isn’t focused on Rey finding her Jedi powers but more Kylo Ren – who is the son of Han Solo and Leia – and his family relationship.

I had a theory he would return to the good side – considering Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is dead and Fisher tragically died last year and her character will have to be written off – otherwise the Solo family is dead.

However, now I am not too sure about the future for the character and albeit, I love that character!

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Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Domhnall Gleeson

Unlike other movies in the franchise, The Last Jedi was predominately featured up in space and only around three planets were explored.

I found this to be an interesting turn for the movies, however, dreary and monotonous at the same time.

Although it appears I am completely slating the movie, I actually thoroughly enjoyed it – often laughing at parts which I shouldn’t have – but one particular scene did shock me and made me curious as to how J.J Abrams will continue in the next movie.

I think I may have to see it again to finally say whether I enjoyed it or not. I loved the fight sequences, relationship building but hated the comedy, one liners and annoying characters.

However, a cameo from a fan favourite character made the movie much better!!

I am intrigued as to how J.J Abrams will deal with the death of Fisher as it was clear the third instalment was meant to be on her iconic character but I believe the film is in safe hands.

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Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis
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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle UK premiere interviews

I got the opportunity to attend the UK premiere of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle where I interviewed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillen, Nick Jonas and filmmaker Jake Kasdan.

The film – which is a sequel to the hit Robin Williams’ 1995 classic – takes a twist on the original movie with the character being transported inside the game and becoming the avatars they have chosen to play with.

Here are my interviews with the cast and director of the hilarious new comedy.

Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black

The first film was such a beloved classic, how did it feel being part of the sequel?

DJ: It’s an honour. I don’t say that little, we all feel that way. The first one is a beloved title and we really wanted to make a movie that the world will hopefully enjoy and that we had a great time making it and you know, not to sound over earnest about it, but we truly mean this, is something that would make Robin proud. Robin influenced us tremendously and his family as well.

KV: Can’t say it better than that. Well spoke.

Was the relationship the same off-screen?

KV: You know, what you guys see is literally what it was. I mean, you’re looking at authenticity at its finest. We’re friends on camera and even bigger and better friends off camera. And when you have that chemistry, it just gives you every component to make the biggest and best movie you can possibly can and we all did that. It was a testament to all of the personalities involved.

How will the audience take seeing it on a big screen for the first time?

KV: You know, my take is I’m in it. So you know it’s going to be good, and Jack Black is in it. Movie dips a little when DJ hits the screen. Takes a little dip but me and Jack come back and it comes back up. Don’t think it’s going to go down too long

DJ: When I come on screen it’s a piss break. Anyone want anymore popcorn?

Jack, you play a 16-year-old girl, how did you get into character?

JB: It was like that. I got hypnotised. I told a hypnotist I have to be a16-year-old girl and he gave me a thing and just snap once and I was in.

Karen Gillen

What drew you to the film?

Because I am the biggest fan of the original ever. I’m gonna go ahead and say the number one fan so when I heard that they were making a sequel to it, I was first of all like ‘what are they going to do with my Jumanji?’ and then I read the script and learned it was going to be very special and then I just really wanted to be part of it.

You say you’re a big fan of the original, so am I, but does this film live up to the Robin Williams classic?

I think so. It’s hard to compare them. The original is so brilliant but this is a movie in its own right. I mean we pay homage to the original but this is a different concept so we’ve, you know, evolved it a little. So I can’t really out them head to head because I love them both so much.

Energetic character both in this movie and in Guardians of the Galaxy, what is your training schedule like?

When I was shooting this I was just training every second that I had. I was doing a lot of fight choreography and dance lessons basically so it was actually really intense but I’ve calmed down a little bit. Nebula might be a little less in shape these days.

How is Avengers going?

It’s amazing. It’s going to be the most epic, cinematic event of all time.

Nick Jonas

What drew you to the film?

A lot of things did. I was obviously a huge fan of the original. Robin Williams’ performance is brilliant. The film as a whole is one of my favourites so to be able to be part of something like this that has a legacy like that is something special. But when I read the script, I fell in love with all these characters and the use of the body swap in this way was really original and I knew they would nail. And this cast is just dynamite

The film is hilarious on screen but was it the same off camera?

It was just as funny off-screen, maybe sometimes funnier. We all had a great time together. You know, on top of getting all the work done and being professional we did have a lot of fun and did our best to make the environment for everybody on set really special.

Sophie Turner and your brother Joe have just got engaged how was the engagement party and how are they doing?

It was a lot of fun. I am really happy for them. Because they are happy and very much in love and it’s a beautiful thing for everyone.

Jake Kasdan

The film takes a different twist to the original, with the characters being taken into the jungle, what made you go down that route?

You know I thought that was a great idea. A way to shake up this thing that we love. The original movie is about the game coming out into our world and it felt like this was a great twist on it which is to go into the game but in this new context

You have a fantastic cast, what was it like working with them?

It was fantastic. It’s just a wonderful group we put together. They are all brilliant in the movie and they are all just a pleasure to work with and so you cannot ask for more than that.

And I imagine, once the cameras had stopped rolling it was just as funny?

It was a lot of fun. We were laughing all the time.

Interviews: Cast and crew of the new movie Molly’s Game

I managed to speak with Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Molly Bloom and composer Daniel Pemberton in the Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game.

The film tells the true story of Molly Bloom, a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons.

Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknown to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led people to believe.

Chastain plays the titular character Molly Bloom in the movie:

What was it about the script that drew you to the movie?

I really loved the character. First of all I really wanted to work with Aaron Sorkin then I loved the character of Molly Bloom, it’s a story of an underdog you know she really goes against the tide of what society expects from her, it’s a fusion that explores patriarchy that you see in her family, in her industry and in the government this idea of her trying to follow this rules that have been laid out by men and Aaron, man, he’s a political filmmaker and I’ve always wants to work with him.

How did you feel playing a non-fiction character?

I tried to hang out with Molly as much as I could, Molly was very invaluable to me in terms of the research. She was so accessible and I met with her and some players of the game and they took me to a game in New York. I loved the research of the film.

You have great chemistry with Idris in the film, how was it working with him?

How could anyone not have chemistry with Idris? He’s such a great actor I was so happy go see him play this role, there’s a lot of humour in this part and he just nails it.

Elba stars as Charlie Jaffey, Molly’s lawyer.

Was it difficult approaching this story knowing you were playing a real character?

No. I guess, you know, any approach to any story whether true or not from and actors point of view is to be able to at least own your character own your interpretation of the character, a lot of the time the directors don’t know exactly what they want to see when an actor walks in so as long as you, the actor, knows who you are and who your character is and that’s enough.

The film is Aaron’s directorial debut, how is he behind the camera?

Aaron is brilliant. He is a really nice guy and was very pragmatic. He was very open to suggestion. You know with Aaron’s work you don’t want to improvise, you want to say the words as they are written but you know sometimes you can’t help say something a different way which he is very good about and I didn’t think he would and he was.

Are you a poker player?

No. I didn’t know how to play before. I played a little Texas Holdum on my phone.

Daniel Pemberton: composer of the film.

How did you get involved in the movie?

I worked with Aaron before on Steve Jobs, the Danny Boyle film, that he scripted and we just met during awards stuff in the states and it turns out he was a big fan of what I did with that and he kindly invited me into doing this first directorial debut, obviously Molly’s Game.

You’ve mentioned it’s Aaron’s directorial debut, how was he as a director?

He’s really amazing and supportive and very warm and very encouraging and the thing that’s interesting is this is his first film and it feels like he has done 20 already. I mean it’s a great movie and he is a great director what was great is he had the confidence that some directors don’t have of allowing you to do what you want to do and he will reign it back sometimes or push you in a different direction but he will give you the space and faith to do what you want to do with music and as a composer that’s great. He comes from strength as a director I think. He was a very strong and confident director and it shows in the film, I think it’s a fantastic movie.

As the composer, what were you main inspirations for this score?

I wanted the score to feel like a very contemporary score I wanted it to feel like contemporary bands had written he score rather than a film composer so I kind of used my film composer tricks and tried not to use them in a conventional way I tried to write a lot of tracks as if they were bands. I was influenced by a number of modern bands and other contemporary acts and tried to write it as a film score.

Was that a challenge?

Every job is different. This one was different it was weirdly quite like… it was really enjoyable and Aaron was a really supportive collaborator.

The film is based on the book by Molly Bloom, when reading it did you have an idea for the music then?

I met Molly when we went to the Golden Globes for Steve Jobs and she was in our table and we got quite drunk and she is great fun. The film was quite different to the book and takes a whole new level that wasn’t in the book. There were deeper levels. And I was responding to Aaron’s vision.

Molly Bloom

A-listers who attended the game included the likes of Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire, was that when you knew the game was big?

Well they were there at the very first game. And because of the people sat at the table, not just the celebrities but the formidable people from the business world, from finance, from politics, I knew this was a room of people who had made it and this was an incredible network to try and leverage

How is it seeing your story on the big screen.

There just aren’t word. I cannot believe this is happening.