This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jordan Smith’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I'm a little behind on reviews and still have to do write-ups for the prequels, so I'm resorting to bullet points. I will also be seeing this a third time with the fam. Maybe I'll have more to add?
• The complaints of forced, Marvel-esque humor are risible considering that the MCU is itself inspired by the banter of the original Star Wars. And the fact that this is just pretty damn funny. BB-8 gave us the lighter thumbs-up in TFA, and he gives us the pistol barrel-blow in this. (The Hux-Poe phone gag is fairly weak, I'll admit.) Don't even throw me that "laser sword" line that Luke says because Anakin uses the very same jokey parlance in Phantom Menace.
• Holdo's sacrifice is the single most exciting moment in the entire Star Wars franchise. Not since George Mason's heroic nuke-disposal at the end of 24's second season has there been a more satisfying redemption for the "bureaucratic, pain-in-the-ass, protocol obsessive" character. It's the only moment in recent memory to elicit a jaw-drop from yours truly. Rian Johnson's subsequent use of silence (surpassed only by the pindrop quiet of Vader's inaugural breaths in Revenge) is nothing short of spectacular, as are the anime-like, slicing cuts he implements to showcase the destruction. It's that rare instance of crowd-pleasing in which the entire audience seems to be in ecstatic accord.
• The idea that Finn and Rose's failed excursion to Cantonica (aka "the casino planet") is unprecedented for the series is preposterous and unfounded. How about the gang getting busted up in Cloud City? Or Anakin and Padmé's brief diplomatic mission to Naboo that swiftly sidetracks into a personal vendetta on Tatooine? Or Obi-Wan's capture on Geonosis for that matter? The notion of failure being new to Star Wars is deeply troubling and strange to me. Why would anyone want a movie about perfect heroes? Anyways, the zaniness and opulent design of Canto Bight (that's the city's name; stay with me, folks) strikes one as an olive branch of sorts to the prequels. Justin Theroux's loony cameo; the Mucinex monster-looking, coin-craved alien; the massive, equine creatures — it's all reminiscent of the grand Star Wars that lies out of war's reach. Before the fall of the Galactic Republic, we only see the grandiose accomplishments of wealth. But the original and sequel trilogies are mostly tethered to a crustier part of the galaxy. It's fitting that the one place we've seen still thriving is the one benefiting from war profiteering. But call it pointless.
• The Last Jedi's narrative being one of disappointment is well-documented at this point. The plan of Finn and Rose completely backfires, Rey falls right into Snoke's trap, Poe's cocksure arrogance is his undoing, Kylo's conflicted soul is threatening his path to the Dark Side, etc. Why this is seen as blasphemous I can't rightly decipher. The prequels are entirely predicated on agents being manipulated by their seniors, Jedi and Sith alike. The uncomfortable similarities between the two Force-wielding organizations are likewise frequently unearthed in these films. I could see how one might bristle at Luke being a gruff shell of his former self. Sure. I can't, however, understand how this could blindside anybody, or feel like that much of a stretch. The Rashomon-like perspectives with which Johnson alters the Luke-Kylo flashback are masterful. No one questions Mace Windu when he's about to axe Sidious because we all know the terrible shit he's going to unleash, so why is Rian Johnson suddenly guilty of character assassination? The Jedi are afflicted with this sort of moral superiority, this "greater good" mentality that's prevalent in all of the films. What's tragic about Luke's character is that, despite him saying "Snoke had already gotten to him", he really is directly responsible for Kylo's turn. Which brings me to...
• The conflagration Yoda brings down upon the sacred Jedi texts is an obvious meta moment. "Let the past die" is the refrain of TLJ and Johnson's MO with this great film. Crybaby wieners have balked at Johnson's decision to eschew reverence, to bite the hand that feeds. But I just can't for the life of me care about such complete and utter nonsense. In the most ironic example of fans imitating an onscreen response since women sneered at Peter Parker's Hot Topic strut in Spider-Man 3, they are proving Johnson's point. These people are Luke, baffled at the discarding of ancient legend and mad at a green puppet. Let the past die!