Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★½

I’ve read lots of lukewarm reviews of this movie that praise the segments on Ach-To with Luke and Rey, but claim the sections on the Resistance ships with the supporting characters are boring and convoluted. I must say, I couldn’t disagree more. Rose and Finn’s subplot has become one of my favorite aspects of the film. Leia’s melancholic and weighty sequences beautifully illustrate the dire straits of the Resistance. And for me, the space battles in this movie are among the best Star Wars has ever seen. Not only does Rian Johnson shoot this stuff far more creatively than any other director (observing cockpits from outside the ship, emphasizing extreme closeups and inserts) but the actual geography and stakes are always easy to follow. The logistics around the warfare might be more “technical” than any other Star Wars installment, but they also feel the most well-thought out. Of course smaller crafts would be faster and lighter! Of course TIE fighters would have close range! Of course larger ships would be harder to maneuver and easier to target, and of course everything runs on limited fuel! While many of these idiosyncrasies have been called “too real-world” compared to the relatively simple “just jump in an X-Wing and blow it up” mechanics of previous movies, they beautifully cement the reality of this universe and the underdog limitations of the Resistance. 

It’s always been ironic to me that the most immediate complaint around Admiral Holdo is that “she’s an SJW” because the people who perpetuate this idea never seem to contemplate that it was Rian’s intention from the start. With her pink hair and purple gown, her dismissal of Poe and emotion-centric speech, it’s pretty obvious from the start that Holdo is supposed to fall right into all the “SJW feminist” stereotypes the dudebros despise. Including the ultimate dudebro, Poe Dameron! Holdo is a character who targets every prejudiced sensitivity within the audience, and leads them (and Poe) to assume she is exactly what she appears to be. Of course, characters revealing themselves to be more than they appear at face value has been a major theme of Star Wars from the start; Poe’s hasty judgement of Holdo calls back to Han’s hasty judgement of Leia, and Luke’s hasty judgement of Yoda. The characters (and the audience) all assumed Leia was a helpless princess, and that Yoda was a silly muppet. How wrong we all were.

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