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.

I’m just gonna do this review as a shattershot list of ideas because The Last Jedi is still stoking far too many different thoughts in my mind to write out a single coherent essay.

- “ForceTime” and hyperspace tracking have collapsed the scope of the galaxy. If we continue the thread that The Force Awakens began on millennial culture, we could even take these things to be analogs to digital communication and the way it serves to exacerbate our isolation. The Resistance get read receipts from their allies in the Outer Rim but no replies. “I’ve never felt more alone” says Rey. Her decision to meet Kylo only comes after they’ve made a physical connection.

- “You’re wasting your time!” warns Luke. Feels like an intentional nod to his “What are we doing here, we’re wasting our time!” line in Empire and the first hint that he’s testing Rey’s resolve, same as Yoda did with him.

- “It’s filled with the worst kind of people.” [cut to scenes of capitalism run wild] - a beautiful inversion of the Mos Eisley lead-in. How can anyone not love the lousy, beautiful town of Canto Bight? 

- The sound the computers make when they’re fuelling the Resistance transports is lifted from a scene in Empire Strikes Back where the Rebellion support staff are prepping for the evacuation of Hoth. That’s some good detail!!

- I’m all-in on Yoda now. The dialogue is perfect and I love the staccato movement of the puppet. I think the secret to making Yoda look “right” is giving him a face like he’s choomed three fat joints in the past hour and The Last Jedi nails that. The blend of puppetry and CGI makes Yoda feel like the souls of the prequels and original trilogy confluencing, coming together to push the sequels off on their first standalone steps into a larger world.

- “Godspeed rebels” - the frigate captain’s sign-off becomes Holdo’s later in the film. Holdo’s “We are the spark” speech is then later repurposed by Poe on Crait. A clever way to demonstrate one of the film’s core ideas - inheritance of will.

- Another note on the “spark” speech - Holdo talks about the Resistance stoking the flame of the Republic, but Poe says they’ll set off the fire that destroys the First Order. No coincidence this comes only a few minutes before the “Fight for love, not hate” speech. Rose was coaching the wrong Resistance hero and it wouldn’t surprise me if Episode IX builds on this concept.

- The Maz Kanata scene is the lowest ebb for sure. The Maz character is rubbish and Lupita Nyongo deserves better.

- I kept a wee mental tally and this film is 2:1 on female to male Resistance pilots. Hell fuckin yeah. Also every bridge officer is either a woman or an Admiral Ackbar. Keep this trend going please.

- Phasma’s “scum!” line continues to come across with racial subtext to me - I wonder if she’s only partially unmasked to prevent blunt allusions to Aryanism. The scene also dovetails nicely with Finn’s crash-course on class-consciousness - his role in the Resistance is the one I’m most curious about going forward.

- Leia standing at the Crait base doors feels like a rhyme with her moment of despair at the entrance of Echo Base. In both cases, she’s faced with a realisation that she may have lost Han and Luke. Regardless, her resolve doesn’t falter. Leia is by far the strongest Star Wars character. Her struggles with loss here are almost impossibly perfect given real-life circumstances.

- I think it’s great that the film doesn’t take the quick and easy path of making Luke a swashbuckler again. Notice that he commits zero acts of violence (fish harpooning aside maybe??) - he only defends himself in the Rey fight and literally doesn’t lay a finger on anyone on Crait. Luke saves everyone’s lives - even Kylo’s - and he remains a person who battles on an ideological and intellectual level.

- I like that the Darksaber shot is just used as firework for Finn and Rose’s kiss rather than being explicitly shown. Rian is really good at making character moments work as the true explosions of this film. 

- Rey goes from “I can do this...” to “I like this!” when it comes to working the Falcon. Demythologising Luke Skywalker, standing firm against Kylo Ren and coming to terms with her parents has hardened Rey’s resolve and identity. 

- Unravelling’s Ahch-To’s cave is still the toughest thing for me in this film. When we see the line of Reys, why are some under a spotlight? Is Rey wrestling with whether she’s a Chosen One, somebody special?

- The Falcon lost its radar dish again! I hope Chewbacca got the car insurance sorted out after Han died because that’s probably gonna cost them bigtime.

- Of all the Empire parallels here, I think the most important one is that our heroes fail at absolutely everything they try to do here.

- The “See ya around, kid” line is still a little cringey for me, but is Luke maybe trying to channel his old buddy Han and remind Kylo of what he did to his father?

- I don’t feel an immediate need to see Episode IX, which is really weird but also incredibly satisfying? This film ends on a knowing, hopeful note, preferring not to dangle suspenseful mysteries over our head. We’ve unlearned all the we’ve learned about Star Wars storytelling and it feels good, right?

- “May the Force b- no. You go ahead. I’ve said it often enough.” was the line that struck a lightspeed kamikaze through my heart this time.

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