Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Contrary to many of the disparaging comments aimed at him, Rian Johnson does understand the Star Wars universe and has a deep affection for it. He realises that for this trilogy to be more than ensuring bums on seats and box office revenue, it needs to be a powerful and resonant next step in the saga.
In doing so, it needs to move into new territory and take risks.
Deconstructing ideas, themes and heroes was done successfully in other movies (Logan) as well as in TV series (Babylon 5). To do so with a pop culture phenomenon was brave and bold.
In my opinion, it’s largely a success in The Last Jedi and is only let down by some sloppy execution at key moments. You can suspend your disbelief over poorly conceived plot points and plot holes if (for example) the rest of the film is engaging AND uncontroversial. But if you have an engaging story that has an iconoclastic theme, then a lot of audiences (men) are going to think 'this has ruined my childhood' or 'TLJ was disrespectful to the franchise' and not to mention 'f*** Rian Johnson!'
We start with a space battle, which is one of the best of the franchise. It is engaging because as well as being spectacular it is motivated by character and has an impact on the rest of the story. Poe is the gung-ho hero, who defies orders to ‘save the day.’ He kinda does win, but at great cost.
This causes Poe to come into conflict with Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo, who looks like she’s returned from an award ceremony in her ball gown and tiara. Although this helps facilitate Poe’s journey from hot shot pilot to future leader, some additional dialogue may have helped Holdo’s character be more transparent to audiences. Instead, many viewers (men) saw the emasculation of 'our guy' by a purple haired woman as part of a feminist agenda.
Oscar Isaac is solid as always, might I add.
John Boyega’s Finn goes through a development from ‘I’m not a hero’ to ‘Rebel scum.’ The side quest to Canto Bight was widely criticised, but this is not the first time that something seemingly irrelevant is included in a film. Finn learns from this adventure in the same way as Marge did when she met old school friend Mike in Fargo.
Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose is the ‘everywoman’ to Finn’s everyman.’ They have some good scenes together, with Boyega doing more than just sweating and shouting ‘Rey’. There is however a pivotal moment in the final battle that is a misstep by Johnson and robs audiences of what may have been a powerful resolution for one of them. Did Disney have an influence on it? Perhaps.
The casino planet of Canto Bight allows for universe building (a rarity in this trilogy), as we get an insight into why war among the stars occur: war profiteering as part of the galactic capitalist model. It’s somewhat ironic that Disney is the custodian of Lucasfilm as it seeks to bring all franchises under its iron fist of streaming services.
The ‘slowest chase in history’ works because there is logic to it involving diminishing fuel reserves and technological developments within the universe. Unfortunately, the narrative flaws elsewhere mean that in-universe rules are rendered obsolete during the infamous 'Holdo manoeuvre'. This is otherwise a jaw-dropping cinematic moment, but a lot of butts are hurting by this time.
But the biggest controversy of the movie is reducing Luke Skywalker to a depressed hermit, waiting to die on an unfindable planet.
Let me be clear: despite their light sabers and use of the Force, the Jedi suck!
Luke realised that the Order was an ideological dead end, essentially perpetuating a cycle of war and peace in a futile quest to bring 'balance'. In withdrawing from the fight, he’s letting the Force exert its natural will.
Benicio Del Toro’s DJ is a morally dubious parallel to Luke. He picks and chooses a side on the matra of ‘its just business.’ His role is only let down by his clunky introduction into the story in an accidental meeting that helps resolve the Canto Bight sub-plot This is a deliberate choice by Johnson, but even I wasn't sold on it.
Daisy Ridley’s acting is acceptable for Star Wars, and as the protagonist she is a considerable step up from Hayden Christensen in the prequels.
Adam Driver continues to impress, and the WhatsApp style Force bond he develops with Rey is compelling in terms of the weird sexual chemistry as well as helping to propel the story.
From the entire sequel trilogy, this is the only movie that has memorable and unique Star Wars moments.
From the opening battle, to Luke milking an alien space cow, the Farthier escape, the flashback scenes between Luke and Ben, the barnstorming sword fight in Snoke’s throne room, Holdo’s sacrifice, the visually striking battle of Crait and finally Luke returning to ignite the spark of hope.
Unable to live up to his status as a legend, Luke decides to embrace it by using all his power to project himself as ‘larger than life.’
Isn't there is always a flawed person behind the legends we create(?).
There is darkness within him that almost caused to him to murder his nephew. But Vader said in A New Hope: ‘the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.’
Luke is truly his father’s son, but he achieves something no Jedi (including his father) could. He achieves a spiritual victory and inspires others through an act of pacifism.  It is magnificent and beautiful.
When you consider Luke's actions, it's asinine to complain about Leia surviving an explosive decompression in space. If I wanted pure versimilitude, I can watch Nolan's Interstellar. If I want a fairytale in space, this is where I come...
Leia also gets an exquisite shot on Crait. Staring out onto the coming battlefield with her mouth obscured by the collar of her cloak, we see only her dark and unblinking eyes conveying strength, weariness, defiance and beauty to the very last stand.
The Last Jedi is visually stunning and has a seamless blend of practical effects with CGI to create imaginative new locations and alien creatures. The humour is variable: we get some of the Marvel-like levity of The Force Awakens, but (thanks to the Porgs) we get a lot of moments that are very...Star Wars.
John Williams also creates one of his best Star Wars scores, with 'A New Alliance' and 'The Spark' being the highlights.
I wish more people could see what I see whenever I watch this film. Despite it flaws, I see the vision of Rian Johnson. This makes him closer to George Lucas than JJ Abrams could ever be.
Unsurprisingly, this is the only movie from the sequel trilogy where Lucas has offered some semblance of praise. His only words were, 'beautifully made.'

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