*NEW* STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI REVIEW *NEW*

The last hurrah?

Rey (Daisy Ridley) develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.

After repressing the belly laughs from spotting Vivien from The Young Ones as a First Order officer, I was thrown into the chaos as the Resistance unleashed the mayhem.

The special effects were brilliant. The action was intense. I loved the cockpit panoramic camera work as Dameron maneuvered the X-Wing.

Speaking of which; someone must have read my Force Awakens review. The one new face writer/director Rian Johnson made sure to have plenty of screen time was Poe Dameron. Oscar Isaac was brilliant. Highly comical and entertaining. His hazing of Hux in the opening sequence was cheesy but well played. Reminded me of a young Solo.

After commending Domnhall Gleeson for his stand out performance as Hux in Episode VII, I felt his delivery this time around was almost pantomime. He was dreadfully OTT and annoying. Whether they realised Emo-Ren was lacking that sinister edge, I’ll never know.

Adam Driver was very good as Kylo. A much more sombre turn that worked a lot better for the character and he got rid of that ridiculous helmet!

Ren’s conflicted conscience continued to tease throughout. Had he truly turned to the Dark Side? Was there any hope left for him?

I loved how the old faces mixed with the new ones. Andy Serkis got to feature a lot more as the creepy Snoke. The CGI and detail on the super Sith (Seriously how tall was that guy? Was he even a guy?) was impeccable.

Carrie Fisher delivered a sterling turn as Leia. There were a couple of question marks about her character that surprised but also annoyed me. BUT don’t FORCE me to spoil anything. I respect the team for keeping the finished scenes after her tragic passing BUT I can’t help but feel that it might cause problems for the next installment.

However, her appearance allowed for a wonderful reunion that (I’m not going to lie) plucked at the old heart strings.

BB8 stole the show yet again. Delivering the laughs in this super serious saga.

BUT there was one face I was happy to see return and that was the man himself. Luke “Robo-Hand” Skywalker.

Hardly a spoiler as we left Rey presenting the miserable Jedi with his old lightsabre. I was surprised at how comical Hamill was BUT it added an extra humanity to this flawed veteran. A man defeated and desperate to avoid the call to action once more.

I loved the bitterness. Ridley and Hamill were a fantastic duo, which made the dynamic work that much more, as Luke reluctantly helped the stubborn Rey channel the Jedi within.

Ridley still carried the film where it counted. Her Force telepathy conversations with Ren were intriguing.

I loved how Johnson and co. brought so many new creatures and wonderful set designs to life. The nun toads and the PORGS (My God. Those PORGs are going to be the next craze fo’ sure) being particular highlights.

There were a few surprises and twists along the way. Plenty of fitting nods and references to keep the new SW and (the long suffering) old fans happy.

The only problem with focusing on particular characters and bringing in new faces was that some had to face the cut. Chewbacca, C-3PO and ol’ R2 were pushed into the background far too much.

Well, maybe C-3PO was the right decision. Don’t get me wrong, they stole the show whenever they had the opportunity BUT I wanted more.

At the same time, that showed confidence in the new faces that it wasn’t too much of a concern. I was a little worried at how Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Trico was going to fare. Her initial irritating introduction had me wincing BUT the loveable rogue soon grew on me and I was actually rooting for her by the closing act.

She worked well with Boyega and allowed an increasingly absent Finn back into the fold.

I have to say I enjoyed TLJ a lot more than FA (Force Awakens). FA had a stronger first half but withered out with a retread of A New Hope while TLJ got better and better and made the story its own.

I expected so much worse after the Twitter hate BUT was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t perfect. The pacing was a little testing in places and some scenes were a little hokey. The casino sequences at Canto Bight were a little . . . strange.

And there were a few plot holes. *Cough* Light speed chase *Cough* BUT there was enough fun, adventure and drama to keep things gripping, riveting and entertaining. I would have no qualms watching this again.

I can’t wait for Episode XI and any other spin-offs (that we already know are on the way) if they can continue to maintain this standard.

3.5/5

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*NEW* KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE REVIEW *NEW*

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From the people who brought you Kickass. You should know what to expect. A riotous action flick of ridiculous proportions. More please.

A spy organization recruits an unrefined but promising street kid (Taron Egerton) into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius (Samuel L Jackson).

Kingsman hooked me from the get go with an explosive opener as we watch a Middle Eastern compound detonate to the beat of Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing.

Taron Egerton will certainly be one to watch for the future. He delivered an impressive movie debut as the anti-social Eggsy. This is certainly one of the better films I’ve seen this year. Fun, frantic and relentless.

I always felt Colin Firth could have been a Bond. Now he’s get his chance. Sort of. He was superb. Didn’t do too bad in the fighting sequences either. Who said old dogs couldn’t learn new tricks? He was every bit as charming, charismatic and funny as the 007 counterpart. He worked well with Egerton and made the perfect mentor.

We follow the conniving chav as he endures the intensive but enthralling Kingsman program. The ‘test’ sequences were tense, action packed and flippin’ fun as Eggsy must fight tooth and nail against the more ‘acceptable’ candidates. The class wars in full flow and brilliantly personified in the ultra snobby spies.

For the first hour, it ticked all the boxes from the cracking soundtrack, the manic car chases to the adorable little pug JB.

You couldn’t pick a better villain. Sssssamuel L (The L stands for Motherf**ker) Jackson was brilliant as the maniacal music mogul hell bent on dealing with the Earth’s overpopulation. Even if he is afraid of the sight of blood.

He was the ultimate scene stealer (Isn’t he always?). You couldn’t help but smile at the speech impediment ridden sociopath. His tet-a-tet with Firth was worth watching alone.

A brilliant mockery of every confrontation that Bond ever had with a villain as the pair wined and dined on a McDonalds Happy Meal. You read that right. “Is this the part where I tell you my plan and you escape in a cool way with some gadget?”

I was impressed with the supporting cast. The alluring Sofia Boutella (Street Dance 2) was a perfect henchwoman as the amputee assassin Gazelle. Disposing of any threat with some killer moves.

It took me a while to realize that one of the red herrings was played by Luke Skywalker himself. Mark Hamill was almost unrecognizable with his trampy beard and posh Swede accent. Great to see him in something other than Star Wars.

Michael Caine nailed it yet again. BUT I was surprised at how little there was of him. However, I was happy to see more of the talented Mark Strong. Finally earning a bigger part as Eggsy’s trainer Merlin.

The plot was mental. If anything, it reminded me of a even more messed up take on the hit Channel Four TV series Utopia. The satire behind the influence of media and technology was spot on. The running gag of missing celebrities that refused to comply to Jackson’s demands was hilarious.

HOWEVER, as much as the cast and one liners were on fine form; Kingsman wasn’t perfect. The pace did dip in parts. Especially during the middle act. Some of the ‘revelations’ were far too predictable. That’s not to say that the writers weren’t afraid to take risks.

BUT even when the pace dragged, we were soon rewarded with another chaotic punch em up. The church sequence should offer enough carnage to cure anyone’s blood lust. Trust me.

BUT as the film drew to its ridiculous close, it soon became too much for me. It was too fast, too frantic and that delicate balance of silliness was soon tipped right over.

Despite its flaws, I came out smiling. It was manic, funny and highly watchable. If you loved Kickass, I’m sure you’ll love this.

BUT if you love Bond, I think it will be down to what sort of mood you’re in to see it ripped to pieces.

3.5/5