Old Man Angelo’s review published on Letterboxd:
2017 is the year of deconstructionist sequels seemingly tailor made to appease me and only me. Having LOVED Logan, War for the Planet of the Apes and Blade Runner 2049 if you'd told me that 2017 would have one more film of that calibre I wouldn't have thought it possible. But here we are.
I'm not familiar with Rian Johnson's complete work, though I had seen and loved Looper. But he struck as just another unique creative who would get micromanaged to excess like Gareth Edwards before him and seemingly Phil Lord and Chris Miller since. But no, what we get here is a movie that absolutely reaches the potential or storytelling, characterisation and mythology the franchise is capable of and what movie buffs expected before it became apparent how risk averse Lucasfilm were.
This movie seeks to subvert expectations from the very outset, after how narratively limp and derivative Force Awakens was, I was almost dejected when I saw the opening crawl was pretty much a word for word copy of the Empire Strikes Back one was. But then the movie stops dead in it's tracks as soon as it's starts to show one character trolling the hell out of another. Then rather than go on to do the Battle of Hoth again, it actually goes in another direction, it does it's own version of the opening of Revenge of the Sith instead. From the very start we get Johnson's mission statement one uttered by Luke Skywalker himself in the film: This is not going to go the way you think.
The following 2.5 hours are as bold, subversive and uncompromising vision that deconstructs and rebuilds it's characters. Looking at the legends of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia as well as the human beings they are. The entire film has a beautiful humanity to it, especially about how we fail and live with that failure, early on in the aforementioned opening Poe Dameron comes up with a stupid Dominic Toretto-esque stunt to destroy a gigantic destroyer, but where a typical blockbuster would follow through with it with a bunch of shit jokes that Kevin Fiege would jerk off to and forget the sequence even happened, we're shown the real consequences behind it, hundreds die, the resistance loses crucial resources, they destroy the evil spaceship (Captained by someone whose name sounds a lot like Kennedy lol).
I can't praise the expert execution of the movie enough, it may get really shaggy with Finn and newcomer Rose's detours to a casino planet and really Benicio Del Toro's entire role seems to be Rian simply wanting Fenster from The Usual Suspects to show up in one of his films. Even then certain revelations he brings to light make this whole detour worth it and just add a layer of texture to the never ending battle between an army of white armoured troopers and separatists/rebels/resistance/whoever is next.
This is probably the most gorgeous Star Wars movie ever made. Both on a visual sense and a stylistic sense, there's certain shots here that could be framed and hung on a wall. This may be the nest uses of the colour red I've ever seen in a film.
The whole cast is top notch, Daisy Ridley feels less wooden here, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill give such brilliant performances maybe even career best, but the real standout is Adam Driver who is absolutely amazing in every single scene he's in. playing him like a video game end boss in Episode IX would be a huge disservice.
For anyone worried about the Porgs like I was, a scene of them watching as Chewbacca roasts porgs over an open fire should assuage your fears.
The fact that we're getting a full blown Rian Johnson trilogy is astonishing and extremely welcome. For the first time since the day I saw Force Awakens I feel absolutely confident in the future of Star Wars.