Jon G’s review published on Letterboxd:
not sure this is actually worth 4 stars but it is Star Wars so what can you do? 🤷♂️
Rian Johnson has a lot to say here and most of it is quite good. He is certainly right (and JJ Abrams is wrong) on the question of Snoke’s origins or Rey’s origins. There is basically no possible scene where Rey learns about her parents and helps the plot or has any emotional weight.
He is also correct that Luke could not take a conventional part in the story if our new heroes are going to take centre stage.
However, Johnson’s overt thumbing of his nose at The Force Awakens multiple times (restaging the Jedi Steps scene, Rey’s encounter in the cave, Kylo telling Rey she comes from nobody to her face) made sure that many fans would have problems with The Last Jedi.
The Force Awakens had just enough plot to hang the emotional arc J.J. Abrams wanted. It looked like Star Wars and felt like Star Wars. It also felt like J.J. Abrams, as in the stirring the pot with various possible mysteries, keeping his options open.
Lucasfilm had a difficult problem when deciding to continue the main SW story, nobody they would want to hire would give up more than 6years of their career in order to do the whole trilogy, so they decided to let three directors get their hands on it. That meant three different visions and that was always going to be difficult.
Johnson’s task was probably the most difficult, he had to make a film which felt good in its own right, but also took the scenario from TFW and set up the finale. It had to be downbeat, but not overly so.
For the most part The Last Jedi works quite well, it’s not a perfect film by any means.
Some of the “problems” of the film don’t bother me. Yes it is hard to reconcile the time taken during the Canto Bight plot, Jedi temple plot, and the slow motion space battle plot. They don’t seem to take the same amount of time, yet everyone meets up at the end. ESB has the same problem, but perhaps because the space battle is essentially has a ticking clock, viewers noticed this more this time. To me, I don’t worry about it. The characterisation of Luke and Rey also not problems in my view. Also people seem to hate Poe’s jokes, but they foreshadow how childish he is ( a major story point here) and we forget how bad the jokes in the original trilogy are, we love them only through repetition and nostalgia.
I did not understand the point of Benicio Del Toro’s character, though. He plays a rogue who turns out to be.... a rogue. For all the time Johnson spends on telling the audience that the Resistance is fighting for a reason, Del Toro’s little speech about how the same arms dealers sell to both sides feels out of place. His betrayal doesn’t land because he never spent any effort to help anyone in the first place.
2 other problems. The space scenes have lots of cgi, and distracting “camera effects” like fast zooming in, etc. Probably seemed cool at the time, but they emphasise the digital nature of those scenes and on smaller screens especially don’t look as amazing as they should. (The decision to have puppet Yoda pays off very well, he looks great!)
The biggest problem here is, like many big projects recently, the movie is just overstuffed. Apparently Johnson’s original cut was over 3 hours. I certainly wonder what he took out and would love to see an expanded edition of this.
We have a Succession of battles. The opening, the First Order finding them in deep space. The final attack on the Cruiser and transports and the battle of hoth.. ahem Crait/ but also another plot about Poe versus Holdo
2 Jedi Temple Rey meets Luke and trains/but also another plot about her and Kylo and Her own insecurities
3. Finn and Rose go to find the codebreaker and get locked up and escape, plus another plot Involving a mercenary plus Finn versus Phasma.
Not to mention Rey versus Kylo/Kylo v Luke/Rey v Snoke/ Luke and Leia/ Leia versus Deep Space!
An example of this is the opening, we start already in a battle.
Battles and action sequences are cool when you know why they are happening, who is fighting, what their strategy and tactics are, and what the consequences of the battle are. By starting in the middle of a battle, we don’t really know what is important or not until the end.
Having so many plots means you can’t give them all enough attention. The scenes on the Jedi Island sparkle much more than the bits on the Resistance flagship, for example.
I could go on about that but I do want to salute Johnson for a couple of things. The inclusion of a number of small details that add up. The slight delay in the movements of all the Reys is a nice touch; as is the subtle use of the force by the stable boy in the final scene. Johnson also included a couple of clues about Luke’s surprise at the end. First Kylo gets wet after connecting with Rey, a physical manifestation. Also, on a second viewing it is clear that Kylo’s feet disturb the salt on the ground but not Luke’s. (I did not notice this the first time I saw the movie, although in the back of my mind I was wondering where he got the lightsaber)
He even takes care of the dice at the end.
Also upon a second watch the silent moment doesn’t seem nearly as long, and the Leia in space moment hit me better, although I can understand those who didn’t like it.
I certainly interpreted the end as Luke using the force as only a great master could, and that the galaxy will remember him as a legend once more. The spark of the rebellion is reborn. The ending is so literal in this respect I don’t understand how people might think differently but apparently there are people who think differently.