Mark Costello’s review published on Letterboxd:
Its so much more obvious second time round - revolution. Every plot strand is all about the destruction of the established, the 'normal' - from the obvious (Ren's speech to Rey about the First Order, Rey's lineage and the breaking of the Jedi being about familial bloodlines, the small stable kids), to the thinly disguised (Leia and Holdo breaking down the 'usual' ways of trigger happy flyboy leaders) to the not so obvious (the whole Canto Bight sequence, whilst still frivolous and feeling like its far too long, is about revolting against the existing class and socio-economic structures who profit of the machine of 'war').
And it plays wonderfully so. Parts that jarred on initial watch (the whole Canto Bight sequence and Del Toro's character, elements of Luke's grumpy character) now don't (well not as much), probably because I can accept that running theme - and once you see it, its in everything and ties the whole film together. Whether or not you can accept the whole film is pretty much about destroying the themes of the first 7 films is another matter......but that's why for me, while TFA feels more like 'old' Star Wars, this is much the better film.
The stunning set pieces - the opening bombing run, the Praetorian fight, Holdo's jump to lightspeed, the whole end sequence on the salt planet - sit alongside those from earlier films easily, and the callbacks to those films worked better for me here than they did in TFA: Luke and the twin suns was a stunning reminder of the single best moment in the entire saga, similarly with the music cues as well - the first time we got Leia's theme, the hairs on my arms just stood up.
The only major bum note is that some of the humour still feels out of place and somewhat modern (by that I mean cynical and childish - 'holding for Hux', the opening with Luke and his lightsaber) - but even within that I can see some of it differently: the infamous green milking scene.......now its about Luke showing Rey that he would rather go about and do inane, icky crap like that than train her and get back into the fight, hence his smirk as he does it - it's basically a big ‘fuck you’ to Rey and works really well to sell this new Luke, one we never expected in a million years but one I really like. Several characters do seem short changed - Chewie and Phasma namely - but to be fair the previous films never knew really what to do with these guys either.
I was worried on this revisit that it would get worse than my initial viewing, but it improved on it significantly. I could go on about lots of other elements of this (Leia Poppins, etc) but for the sake of brevity (!), I really liked the overall message of this and am hugely interested to see where Episode IX goes. Its still not perfect, some inane humour aside, but for me it is a lot better than many of the scathing fan reviews I've read and one that sits above TFA easily.