Jesse’s review published on Letterboxd:
I came into this film a bit skeptical and suffering from a small bout of laser fatigue. After all, this is episode 8, and 9 feature length films in total counting Rogue One, and I wondered if there could possibly be any new ground to cover. There’s gonna be some air battles, some red and green lasers going pew-pew-pew, some lightsword dueling, some bad guys narrowly defeated, and some unresolved conflict to tie into the next film. While this film did have all of that—I mean, it’s a tried and true formula—it also had a lot of deep and exciting moments that were fresh and wholly unforeseen. I loved Snoke as the villain, a truly evil and menacing force, and it was great to see him up close. I also loved Luke as the bitter, conflicted, disenchanted retiree, angry at the Jedi way and disillusioned with the Force. His story arc was meaningful and raw, the resolution stunning and suspenseful. Hamill’s acting was mesmerizing in every scene. Kylo Ren’s journey was also fascinating to watch unfold, as he remains a complex, tortured, and unpredictable presence. His dynamic with Snoke and Rey was riveting, and the three of them together made for some great entertainment and truly breathtaking moments. Apart from plot elements and character development, this film is also the most visually impactful of the series. It is simply beautiful and arresting through the entire runtime. I mean, even the air battles looked spectacular. The light speed sacrifice scene was a wonder to behold, as the entire theater sat in stunned silence at the terrible majesty of what just occurred.
There are, of course, aspects of the film open to criticism. It was too long. There was a lot of humor, some of which served to undermine the deeper elements of the plot. The dialogue could’ve been better and more befitting the epic nature of the events. But for the most part, these missteps didn’t bother me, as the entire series is open to the same critiques. Overall, I found the film to be fun, exciting, and best of all, creative, a quality and worthy addition to the chain.
“The greatest teacher, failure is.”