Dave’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Tomorrow was created yesterday.......And by the day before yesterday, too. To ignore history is to ignore the wolf at the door.”
― John le Carré, A Most Wanted Man
collective amnesia has rendered a film so fastened to a canonical classic to be something New, Radical, Unique, and Special. the last jedi is a collage of fanservice and rehashing of iconic plot structure of the empire strikes back (and return of the jedi) to such a degree it can only be read as sheer laziness.
the force awakens was already a shameless a new hope redux in tone and structure - yet for all its attempted cloning the film lacked the wonder and spirit of a young director with a vision. it was formless and dull, a remix of a classic by the exact same director who sent star trek back to theaters only a few years prior, and a board of producers hellbent on ensuring shareholders the film would be a crowd pleaser. the last jedi pits rian johnson against disney, instead of j.j. abrams working lockstep with them, and the results are far different but only marginally less disastrous.
the tone of the last jedi is more spaceballs than star wars; constant poorly timed jokes and quips leave the feeling this came off the also disney owned marvel universe assembly line. any segment of stakes or tension is usually instantly dispelled by non-sequiturs and ~quirky~ nonsense. compared to lucas' 3 film arc of political intrigue revolving around the rise of a fascistic state, the political content of the last jedi is more of a hashtag than a documentation. there's unnecessarily drawn out sidebars about war profiteering and centrism that go nowhere, and hang in limbo amid all the cross cutting to other, also pointless yarns. rian johnson was awarded 3 more star wars films from disney - it offers nothing radical. gore verbinski's disturbing expose of native american genocide in the lone ranger sent him scouring europe for funding of his next project, and his film seen as a disgrace.
the transference of luke's training with yoda onto rey//luke could have held weight - but whereas luke encounter in the swamp is haunting and hints at his deepest fears, rey's trip into darkness is merely a visual gimmick that leaves her as bland as she was in the force awakens. luke endured a dramatic change over the course of three films. his journey is not as beautifully rendered as anakins, but compared to rey's seemingly non changing existence through two of three films in a trilogy it's quite powerful.
despite all this, there are certain brief, tiny moments that glimmer and show the type of moving film it could have been. luke's vision of the twin sunset is an elegant composition, alongside the dark red trails conjuring images of blood draining the life out of the heroes during a last stand. kylo ren remains the only interesting new character and he's given the most to work with in relation to the past and future of the franchise. while the force awakens portrayed him as an angsty, tantrum tossing child, the last jedi manages to wrangle his personality into something more substantial and meaningful.
in many ways, kylo ren is a manifestation of the ire directed at the disney universe. he's perceived as too weak, too childish, too prone to mistakes to ever achieve the imposing power and fear darth vader struck into his enemies. ren is similar yet different, familar yet distant - the only mystery left in a franchise that keeps forcing big reveals instead of giving them time to breathe and come to fruition naturally with a level of earnestness. it's a shame the rest is a hollow gesture, still destined to get worse on re-watches just like the force awakens and rogue one.