This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
_Jack_’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
"This is not going to go the way you expected."
Ah, it's my favorite time of the year: when the new Star Wars film will be subject to the unbridled hate of "Star Wars fans"!
I was going to write a big long thing about this film and the criticism thrown against it and shit like that but honestly I'm fuckin done. I loved it so much. I love Star Wars so fucking much. I'm done with negativity. I will say a few things though.
1) I am a Star Wars fan down to my very bones. My essence. I grew up with the original and prequel trilogies. I love them to death. (Yes, all of them) I am an ultimate fanboy. I will defend these films until the day I die. 2) I do not think these films should be shielded from criticism. I just think most of people's criticisms with the new films, especially this one, are moronic. The only valid criticisms I've seen that don't amount to "B-b-b-b-b-bbbut the story/characters didn't go the way I WANTED IT TO!!! MUH STAR WARR" are that it's too long, juggles too many plot points/tones, and is boring. I understand those points. But with all due respect, and with respect to everyone's opinions, y'all fake fans can fucking choke.
This film finally did something that the franchise NEEDED - it did the unexpected.
Snoke was a fucking red herring. Ren killed him like he was nothing. That moment was breathtaking. I was literally in awe. There is no redeeming him now. He is as evil as the Emperor. That was some badass, cold shit. We don't need to know anything about Snoke. He was a representation that there will always be a big bad in the galaxy, and always something bigger and badder.
Rey came from nobodies. If she was a Skywalker or a Solo or something else it would've been fine, but c'mon!! How was that not a brilliant decision? She came from nothing to become something huge!
That's what this film is about, to me. It's about legacy and myth and finding your place in the world. Luke struggles with his status as a legendary figure and drove himself to exile because he couldn't live up to it. Ren betrays his master to live up to his misplaced Legacy. Rey finds out an answer she didn't want to hear but she fights on and becomes a new symbol of hope. Like our Little Green Friend says, the books don't matter. Of course, the film is still steeped in nostalgia and what came before, but Ren was wrong when he says you need to forget the past. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, but acknowledging past mistakes - acknowledging failure - and learning from it is why we exist in the first place. That's fucking awesome.
This is not an Empire Strikes Back clone. I love love love TFA but I'd be a liar if I said it didn't follow ANH pretty damn closely. While this film does follow many similar beats, it's so fucking disingenuous to say it's like Empire. There's so much humor interwoven with the heavy stuff and it's done so well, like a prima ballerina without missing a single step. That's how this film sets itself apart. ESB notoriously ends on a huge downnote. While this film isn't exactly all laffs and gaffs (most of the Resistance has been wiped out by the end of the film), there is so much hope and fire left in the survivors. They know that even if they lose, they go down fighting. You're not left feeling hopeless in the slightest. And as for the plot structure, I thought it was brilliantly done. I was totally invested in every aspect, every character. I need to see it again before I can articulate why it worked so well for me, but it did. Oh yeah it did.
God there is literally so much jam packed into this film and honestly I loved every second. If I were to talk in detail about all of it this would be more unnecessarily long than it already is. This basically amounts to a thought dump rather than an actual review, but fuck it, I'm excited. I'm just going to gush for the rest of this. I'm sorry.
-This film was BY FAR the most gorgeous Star Wars film and one of the most gorgeous films I've seen all year. The use of lighting, the color (Snoke's throne room is fucking TITS) the fucking LUSH planets, the skylines, goddamn. Even without those things, there were so many wonderfully framed and composed shots. Finn and Rose riding against the moonlight? Rey and Luke's magic hour conversation? Ren's head framed against the red curtains? So many more but those pop into my head immediately
-When Poe fucking drifted in the X-wing? That was fucking next level. I actually really liked Rose but I was so so hoping her sister would be the star. She was so fucking cool. Benicio was a really fucking great Lando surrogate but goddamn do I wish Justin Theroux's Clark Gable lookin-ass was in this more. I loved that shit. The moment when Rey and Kylo fight Snoke's bodyguards? Holy fuck. That was better than any lightsaber duel that would've been in the movie. So badass. The creature design was on fucking point in this one. The porgs were not actually that bad and those horse things were dope as hell.
-"Nothing is ever truly gone." That broke my goddamn heart. What a beautiful moment.
-Luke's becoming one with the Force... the twin suns... the John Williams score... I can't believe I didn't cry. It was perfect.
-Can't help but think the film should've ended on a cliffhanger in the salt planet, but hey, that's a nitpick honestly.
-Star Wars, as a franchise, is built upon parallels. Within the characters, the story, and the internal mythology as a whole, but also upon homage to other films and things that Lucas loved. Everyone seems to forget that. TLJ utilized these homages and nostalgic moments to near perfect effect.
-It does sting a little that Mark Hamill wasn't a fan of what they did with Luke, but what are you gonna do? To me there wasn't a single thing here that seemed out of character for Luke. Many others seem to be on Hamill's side but honestly I don't know if there is a better way they could've done it. The original trilogy, ultimately, was not about Luke, It was always about Vader. Luke's development was wonderful but by showing him in this film as someone still afraid of his mistakes and scarred by the past, it made him into a more complex, nuanced character.
-Laura Dern's hyperspace missile kamikaze attack into the First Order fleet. That's all I need to say.
-The last shot - the Force sensitive child looking into the night sky, broomsaber in hand - that is the essence of this franchise to me.
Shit guys. I ended up typing a long thing. I have so much more to say - they touch upon so many great themes in this movie, war profiteering, rich abusing the poor, the balance between light and dark, good and evil, but I'll leave it here.
I'm sorry for being a plebian, but I think this is my favorite movie of the year.