Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Two quick thoughts about Rian Johnson on my second viewing:

1) There's been plenty of - well deserved - conversation about the stunning visuals within The Last Jedi. Snoke's Oz-ian throne room, the bloody red soil under the salty exterior of Crait, the elaborate costuming and set design of Canto Bight, these all deserve praise. But I also want to draw attention to Johnson and cinematographer Steve Yedlin's masterful movement of the camera within the film. Echoing early Spielberg, Yedlin and Johnson regularly use space (no pun intended) fully, moving the camera and actors against each other to re-frame the shot. Think of an early shot on the bridge of the Resistance ship where new actors step into frame as the camera pushes forward or a similar shot as the Resistance sets-up on Crait, panning across the characters and the room. The duo also uses exaggerated angles without them being distracting, instead using them to tell the story visually (extreme low angles as Paige kicks for the bomb remote).

2) Equally important to the success of this film, is Johnson and his cast's inclusion of minor character beats. These are unshowy, but tell us everything about the characters. Here I'm thinking of Rey smiling as she cups rain water in her hand on Ahch-to (maybe her first time feeling rain, as Jakku is a desert planet), Hux's Machiavellian consideration of shooting Kylo Ren when he's unconscious, or DJ's cocky, drunken waddle out of the cellblock on Canto Bight. These humanizing character choices are what makes Star Wars, not solely the grandeur of the space opera.

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