This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
demi adejuyigbe’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Watched the score-only version of this movie and it still absolutely fucking rules. I honestly feel like every scene makes me go "oh shit! I forgot all about how great this was."
• Paige Tico's heroic moment in the opening scene absolutely works on me, and it's wild how such a minor character sticks with me every time I watch this movie.
• I love the porgs. I love them.
• Wise old hermit legend Luke on his mountain is fantastic. The scene where he vaults over the canyon pass, the shot where he's carrying the giant fish up the mountain– it's all outstanding. This is how Johnson hammers home that Luke has become the incredible, mythical figure people wanted him to be– he's fucking Paul Bunyan. He even drinks milk straight from the cow. He's every god-awful early 2000s Chuck Norris joke come to life.
• Say what you will about the scene of Leia in space (actually, don't) but the music that plays as she flies back? One of the most beautiful songs in the entire film. That's what really makes the moment for me.
• The way they play with nostalgia in this movie is leaps and bounds better and lighter than in The Force Awakens. The moment of R2 playing the Leia hologram for Luke is such a delight.
• Look, I'm not trying to objectify Laura Dern as Holdo, because Laura Dern as Holdo is a terrific character and Laura Dern as Holdo deserves to be recognized for how well she plays this unknown character that we are meant to distrust as Laura Dern as Holdo comes out of nowhere to lead the entire Resistance. That said– Laura Dern as Holdo, please step on me.
• Kelly Marie Tran is GREAT? She owns absolutely every scene she's in.
• The way the Force telepathy scenes are shot so that we just see them looking of screen is some goddamn magic. This feels like the first Star Wars film where shots are framed and set up in a particular way for the story, and not just pointing it straight ahead because you have to see what's happening, or because adding handheld camera shake in post makes it seem more real (it doesn't)
• There isn't a single scene in the entire series like the scene where Luke guides Rey as she's feeling the Force for the first time. The way the scene is interspersed with shots of other things feels decidedly un-Star Wars, in the best way. For all the talk about how the original Star Wars is just The Hidden Fortress, this feels like the first Star Wars since that one where Kurosawa's influence can be felt so strongly.
• I have mixed feelings about Canto Bight like everybody else, but I will say it plays much better in the score only version, because when you're just focusing on the music it becomes clearer that Canto Bight is this film's cantina scene. You want an even more wretched hive of scum and villainy? Well, here ya go. It's rich people, blissfully ignoring the war going on and playfully gambling on the same ground that animals are being abused for their entertainment. As far as world-building goes in this franchise, adding more aliens is cool– but putting a face to this world's analog of capitalism and wealth and greed and evil in a way that isn't the one-note evil we've seen ("I want power and that's why I'm bad") is rad.
• Luke discovering Rey & Kylo together is ALSO rad, and I love that the hut exploding was done practically because you can feel it.
• Rey fighting Luke fucking rules. Every fight scene with Rey so far in these films has been fucking great.
• The Luke/Kylo flashbacks are astounding, and I've written before about how well Johnson characterizes both Luke and Kylo differently in each of them, but WOW. The way Luke looks so evil with the green reflecting in his eyes in Kylo's flashback. The way Kylo looks like an innocent little boy in Luke's. They can all do so much with just lighting and looks, and it works so damn well.
• Yoda showing up is a killer moment and I remember not expecting it in the theater but being so happy when it happened.
• Every single second in the Red Room is absolute gold. Start to finish. If one of you nerds tries to tell me about how the fight choreography is off or whatever, I will scream. I don't care. It's perfect.
• The destruction of the Resistance feels so real and painful the way it's cut with the Red Room sequence and with Finn/Rose being caught– which really hammers home just how necessary and great–
• – The hyperdrive scene is! Laura Dern as Holdo strikes again. If only she were still alive to step on me.
• Crystal foxes are cool as shit, and so are the crystal caves! Holy fuck! I wish I could've watched this on the big screen again. The entire sequence on Crait is outstanding. Every single shot of it. Even the way Poe slides into the trenches is outstanding. This is the most beautiful Star Wars movie, bar none.
• my pal Shrill said it best, but Luke facing down the First Order is the single most badass thing a Jedi has ever done in this series. It is leaps and bounds cooler and emblematic of wisdom than any crazy, jumpy, masterful lightsaber duel people had been wishing for.
• Poe meeting Rey for the first time is still a weird moment where I go "oh right, you guys haven't... huh."
• Rey lifting the rocks is a POWERFUL image that absolutely works on me, even though the rocks themselves look bad. Still good.
• This is absolutely my favorite Star Wars film and I don't think I would think anything more than "oh yeah it's kind of fun" about Star Wars if it weren't for this film.