Landon’s review published on Letterboxd:
“This is not going to go the way you think.”
Exactly what you should keep in mind when watching this for the first time. I’m going to try to keep this as spoiler free as possible; I highly implore you to not read ANYTHING about this. That being said…
This is my new favorite Star Wars movie.
Yes, better than The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope. For some context, I thought The Force Awakens was really really good; flawed, but I liked it a lot. My biggest issue with it was that it resembled A New Hope almost beat for beat. Luckily, The Last Jedi is able to stand on its own; you do need to watch the last film to get some context, but it never feels like an Empire Strikes Back clone.
Call me a fanboy, but Star Wars: The Last Jedi exceeded my expectations and completely blew my mind with how it turned out. Rian Johnson’s fantastic direction, the gorgeous visual effects, the intricate plot, John Williams’ iconic score, solid performances across the board, sweet sweeping cinematography, and some phenomenal sequences in the third act all make for the most fun i’ve had in a theater all year.
The landscapes and imagery are breathtaking, from the bright red throne rooms to the barren islands, sleek space stations and dark caves, and some incredible cinematography and camera work. It’s a blockbuster that feels like Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, and of course Rian Johnson worked together, and man does it feel like a trio made in heaven.
It has the most emotional themes in any Star Wars film, about finding your place in the world and confronting your failures head on. Hope, power and the true potential of the Force. About how it can almost be wiped out, and how it ultimately persists. How a ragtag band of fighters can tackle the evil galactic might, or a scavenger girl face down the heir apparent to Darth Vader, and who and what can give hope to those people and the galaxy as a whole. Johnson gives a passionate message on one of the saga's core themes, especially towards the end with some truly powerful moments that will stay ingrained in my memories for a long time.
The returning cast is great, Daisy Ridley is still a wonder as Rey, John Boyega is great as Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe gets a lot more to do here. Regardless of what you think about the character of Snoke, Andy Serkis does so well as this character. This time we see Snoke in his non-holographic form and Serkis is so fantastic in these key scenes. Though she isn’t with us anymore, Carrie Fisher is a phenomenon, and steals every scene she’s in. Please Academy, have a heart and give her an Oscar.
Another fantastic element is the ultimate battle between good and evil. There are actual stakes involved, where people actually die, but it's all for that spark to try and take down the First Order. Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron was effortlessly cool and charming in VII, but also underserved by the plot. Here he's the focal point for the Resistance, throwing himself into battle with the First Order and his superiors, Leia and newcomer Holdo with an examination of his hero complex that makes him so much more than just the best damn pilot in the galaxy.
But the best part about The Last Jedi is its unpredictability. I’m sure you’ve heard of it many times before, but do not read any spoilers before going into this. It will make your experience x100 better. There are shocks and surprises, twists and turns at every corner, and the film keeps you guessing, zigging when you expect it to zag and making a left when you're sure it's about to go right. Every fan theory, every thought you might have had about how it would go, throw all that away. This truly isn’t going to go the way you think. There was a moment that surprised me so hard, completely out of left field (but completely logical, might I add,) that left me in tears; more than Vader looking into Luke’s eyes one last time in Return of the Jedi.
My only real issue with The Last Jedi is that the plot is a bit rough around the edges, and there was one little side-plot that didn’t work entirely, but I was having so much fun that I could easily overlook this.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi reminds us how great this franchise can be with an actual, experienced and passionate director behind it instead of a group of producers. I may need to see it again to convey my thoughts more clearly, but right now I’m just in plain shock. When walking out of TFA, I was smiling, but I walked out of this one sobbing. Some are very lukewarm (haha) about this film, if not on the verge of disliking it, which to them I say: sorry you didn't like it like I did. But for me personally, it was a dream come true and everything I ever wanted from every other Star Wars film and more. It takes an established iconic world and characters and expands upon was already there, and it allows the movie to be not just a great sci-fi film, but an amazing character-driven film. It’s emotional, exciting, epic and an experience like nothing I’ve ever seen in 2017. Take it from a fan. This is the Star Wars film you’ve been waiting for.
This is the best Star Wars film ever made.