Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★½

not at all what i was expecting and that's why it's pretty much perfect. a genuinely idiosyncratic and subversive work that's just staggering from start to finish. as much as i adore The Force Awakens, this is in a completely different league. while i disagree with the common complaint that that film was just a remake of A New Hope (its cyclical nature was key in its portrait of a post-war generation failed by their elders and falling to the same mistakes), The Force Awakens ultimately just reinforced what it meant to be a Star Wars movie. The Last Jedi pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a Star Wars movie, even more so than last year's supposedly "different" Star Wars movie Rogue One.

and a lot of people will totally hate it because of this. in many ways it feels like a fuck you to a certain type of diehard fan, the one who has spent the past two years theorising about things like Snoke's history or Rey's lineage. The Last Jedi doesn't just feel like a dismantling of the Skywalker legacy, it feels like it's burning it to the ground in a glorious inferno, defying every expectation to deliver an exciting, wildly-paced (seriously, it starts to feel like the end of movie about 90 minutes in and just keeps going from there) sequel for the ages.

Johnson's direction is incredible as always, delivering an operatic, nuanced and thematically rich entry to the saga that, for the first time in years, feels like a truly auterist Star Wars movie. unlike Lucas, Johnson doesn't focus on the tired, shallow politics of the prequels - his film is a much more compelling beast, examining the mysticism of the force, the potential regressive/archaic nature of the Jedi/Sith balance and how faith prevails through it, how there are no good guys in war and abhorrent crimes are committed on both sides, how blind heroism can be deadly, and how symbols have power and create hope among the oppressed.

Ridley and Driver are phenomenal, and both already feel like the most compelling protagonist and antagonist this franchise has ever seen. i was worried about Hamill after the trailer but he totally brings it with the most impressive performance he's ever given as Luke. Steve Yedlin's photography isn't as explosively vibrant and animated as Dan Mindel's was for TFA, but he and Johnson once again provide some stunning craft, injecting a totally new style and verve to the series. i was particularly impressed by the use of color, the reds in Snoke's chamber and on Crait are just gorgeous.

making comparisons to Empire feels futile given the enormous cultural impact it had, making it impossible to equate this with it yet, but my first instinct is that this is easily the best instalment Star Wars has seen in decades, and it's one that will stay with me for a while. Rian Johnson deserves everything and more.

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