This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Nick J’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Look, I don't know if I 100% believe in the Mandela Effect. Of course, you brush it off the first time you hear about it, but have enough encounters involving it and you start getting a little suspicious. For me, it's Berenstein Bears rather than Berenstain and, here's a new one, in the episode "Dear Ed" of Ed Edd n Eddy, I clearly remember Jimmy saying "Bouncy bouncy weeee!" when he begins to dance, but all the clips I can find of the scene just have "Bouncy bouncy bouncy." It cannot be bad memory: When I was a kid, if I ever tried to make my friends or little sisters laugh by recreating the scene, I would say "Bouncy bouncy weeee!" YOU CANNOT SAY MY CHERISHED LITTLE MOMENTS WITH MY FRIENDS AND RELATIVES ARE FALSE MEMORIES. However, I have had a third moment that may be related to the Mandela Effect! A lot of people have watched a movie called "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and it seems to have all the same characters and story beats as a film I watched called "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." And it sounds delightful! A film that challenges the Star Wars formula, that promises change in the franchise, that is clever and humorous and fun! Yet, I just can't seem to find this version. Is it a foreign copy? A director's cut? A copy from an alternate universe? Somebody's gotta help me, I can't find it!
Alright, with that intro that's really just a desperate cry for help for someone to find me that original Ed Edd n Eddy clip so I don't have to admit I was a dumb kid, I rewatched The Last Jedi and I don't know why and I hated it just as much as the first time. I'm pretty understanding that people have different tastes in film and can usually be reasoned with as to why someone may like/dislike a movie I dislike/like, but here, I can't find anything unless the person just didn't like Star Wars in the first place or possibly walked out before the third act, which I can see...in some key moments that are far and few between.
The Last Jedi has its moments, it really does. The relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey, this possible romantic passion, student-master bond, rebellion against everything that is established, is fantastic. Driver and Ridley step it up with their performances and the script paints them as such a compelling pair. When they unite to lightsaber duel the Putty Patrol, it’s such a great moment and an epic and fun way to convey that the two have united. But what is it at the service of? For them to double-down on their old beliefs without any real resolution, thus trapping the storytelling of Star Wars in an endless loop of good versus evil, mega-death-laser fancy lightsaber duel-fests, a destruction of a franchise so grand it hasn't been seen since The Simpsons sold out to the culture it satirized. Rey uses the force to lift rocks, the exact thing she said about what the force did that we laughed at earlier in the film, to save her ragtag group of friends (who, by the way, didn't look so concerned after the death of their friends and the giant mega-death-laser coming to their base) and Kylo doubles down on his pissbaby character in “The Force Awakens” to fire a mega-death-laser. It’s the worst final act in history, throwing away everything the first two acts had built up to give us something we know and we usually like, but done so vapidly, almost cynically. A gun we know that’s loaded but the trigger is never pulled, a Milk-Bone on a dog’s nose that is taken away as soon as they open their mouth. Johnson fails at being as confident as the characters he had written about to do something different. It’s a film about letting go of the past and learning from your mistakes, only to cling it so tightly that it chokes to death and makes such huge mistakes about storytelling.
How about we talk about Luke Skywalker now? I’ll buy into his character of hiding after failing so miserably at trying to reestablish an old order. Someone as plucky and lawful good as Luke Skywalker can fail and can be miserable, it happens to the best of us. That’s the idea, which sounds good on paper, but the execution is piss-poor. After seeing all those interviews with Mark Hamill about how he disagreed with Rian Johnson about his character, that Luke should never give up, I am more than certain he sabotaged this product. That, or Rian doesn't know how to write a character like twilight-years Luke. Probably both. I don't know if many of you are familiar with pro wrestling, but it would be fitting to compare Mark’s acting to Shawn Michaels’s performance against Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam 2005. After backstage politicking and Hogan and Michaels disagreeing on how the feud would go, Michaels (a wrestler that fans know can put on unreal performances in the ring) would purposefully sabotage the match by overselling (cartoonishly overreacting to every attack Hogan performed on him, thus completely ruining the realism of the match). Luke’s character exudes the cartoonish grumpiness that Mark must’ve felt for being relegated into this role and there’s no room to connect with him as his bitterness is treated as a joke. This is the reality where Alec Guinness acted on his hatred for the Obi-Wan character and looked like a drunk asshole rather than the wise, collected father figure Luke finds on his heroic journey. And, to top it all off, I didn’t see Luke get back up. He sends some force astral projection thingy with a bad toupee to troll Kylo Ren as he sits and dies on the same planet he hid away on. It’s the worst Stand battle in history. A character cannot redeem themselves from the comforts of their home. Luke Skywalker’s journey ends with him being cartoonishly miserable and then being too lazy to do anything about it. Arc ended poorly, childhood ruined forever.
I don’t even want to talk about Rose and Finn. No chemistry between them in this episode of “Star Wars: Droids” with some fake-deep talk about war done by Benicio Del Toro, the number one actor on my list to watch better movies with him because he isn’t good or memorable in anything I’ve seen him in. How am I supposed to root for the basic good guys when they buy ships and weapons from the same people who make them for the First Order, a hollow shell of a force of evil based solely on recognizing things you know are coded as bad? You mean the same ship that Admiral Pinkie Pie (Should’ve been Leia, just saying. Much better use for her than becoming a new “Shooting Stars” meme.) uses to sacrifice herself in what should be one of Star Wars’s most beautiful, most quiet moments but it fails because there’s no room for an emotional connection with a fascist bitch we spent 1/3 of a movie with? Which, of course, is built up by rhetoric to blindly follow orders no matter what? Even though there’s a possible conspiracy around war profiteering that people need to question in order to change? In the same movie with yo mama jokes and titty milk in an attempt to copy cousin Marvel’s slick style? In the same movie with such poorly designed characters like Maz “Butthole Eyes” Kanata and Ric Flair with Meltman’s face? In the film where nobody understands Yoda’s playful nature is a front before getting serious with Luke about Jedi training and works better as a wise hermit than a snickering troll? Rian Johnson, what the fuck were you smoking when you made this and where can I get some?