This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Dov Doviak’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
After initially being incredibly underwhelmed, Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi played absolutely brilliantly on a rewatch. The way he skillfully toys with and circumvents audience expectations' of character and thematic arcs for substantive expansion rather than shallow, fleeting elation is nothing short of masterful.While I don't see this as a 'Rian Jiohnson film disguised as a Star Wars film', his influence on the franchise's trajectory is undeniable. I'm sure the very idea of lowering the intergalactic scope of the film's stakes in favor of more intimate, personalized ones never even crossed J.J. Abrams' mind, but that's precisely what he's been dealt for episode IX. I'm genuinely curious how Abrams moves forward for the next installment given the clash of sensibilities, but for now, I'm more than happy reveling in some of the more unexpected specifics of the masterpiece Johnson gave us.
By killing off both Snoke and Luke, something I didn't think was even on the table, Johnson undercut Disney's 'always teasing the bigger bad for future installments' credo and honed the dramatic focus on the subtly nuanced internal struggle between Kylo and Rey, bringing the most interesting and compelling aspect of the new film's front and center as it should be. On a rewatch, the smaller moments between the two spoke volumes, and were incredibly well portrayed by Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver.
Johnson's treatment of Finn and Poe was the other standout for me. Showcasing their weaknesses and making them just as culpable for the Rebellion's casualties as Kylo himself was an ingenious, humbling stroke that grounded the narrative in an empathetic, subversive authenticity rather than the traditional, tired, one-dimensional war we've grown accustomed to.
Everything else, from Rey's parents being no-ones to the makeshift hackers bipartisan, amoral sociopolitical commentary, the rest of the film fell perfectly into place. Sure, there were moments like the Leia superman scene and Poe's cringe-worthy standup routines that detracted, but overall, The Last Jedi is an amazing film pretty much any way you slice it. From a technical perspective, it was immaculate. Even the faux-lightsaber fight at the end maintained all the weight and tension of the real thing solely based on the sound editing and gorgeous cinematography... I'm willing to say that this is my favorite Star Wars film to date