Alex Lovendahl’s review published on Letterboxd:
note: this was not a rewatch, reflected by the fact that this review is not scored. i was originally going to add this as a comment on my prior review and it got long, so i might as well just update my thoughts.
accepting after the john boyega interview today that i’m doubtful i’d really stand by the praise i’ve afforded this film the past few years. knives out feels like a confirmation to me that johnson is a filmmaker excellent at wrenching moral tension out of seemingly gray stakes, but those stakes lack the nuance to not come down to liberal condescension. the canto bight reveal felt like a great direction to take star wars...but is an empty act of moral relativism, and it never takes grounding in character the way daisy and adam get their conflict.
the last jedi, as has been discussed many times now, is not “a brave film.” it is only doing what star wars fiction like knights of the old republic 2 has done repeatedly, and it is not extending the thematic underpinning past star wars itself. if it were, characterizing the first order and the resistance as “both sides of the same coin” would be as offensive as comments equating rebellion in America to overpolicing.
still worth it for the incredible mark hamill performance. the film is at its best when it is using the bluster of “moral grey” and “dark middle chapter” selling points to get quiet moments of introspective grief or determination.
but i think my rosy feelings largely owe to good faith in rian johnson (who is not bad! but) and my unlogged revisits of the film’s final act having the soundtrack replaced by kanye west’s the life of pablo (to try at home, time stamp is 1:39:55.) i think there was material to make a truly revolutionary final act of the trilogy out of this film, but, well, who exactly was going to take it there? only our imaginations, which does little for the cast and crew whose stakes are made here.