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.

Terrifically excises the expected plot payoffs that would ultimately be met with a shrug by audiences and seizes upon the unexplored curiosities in previous films with such cold-precision that it’s a miracle it all manages to still be so very warm and sentimental. I’ll take in another viewing before fully processing, but a few bullet points:

-The reduction of both Snoke and Phasma feels oh so true. For Snoke, to have him gain anymore relevance is to rattle the entire re-launched franchise out of focus, creating needless questions of where he came from and why no one tried to stop him before. To do away with him is to throw those concerns entirely out the window and leave the world in the hands of characters that matter. With Phasma, it’s the opposite – there is nothing important about her aside from her Action Figure Ready armor and dispatching her antagonism in favor of the far slipperier DJ makes for a much more compelling (and less First Order-tied) Finn arc.

-For a character so defined by her spectacles, it’s funny to realize that Maz Kanata is much more fascinating the further away she gets from the action.

-Johnson’s taste for where to lead Dameron’s character is perhaps the most remarkable feat, given how undefined he was in TFA. The mutiny reach in the middle is maybe the first time in any STAR WARS film where I genuinely doubted and rooted against the hero, and for that to come from the internet’s Perfect Golden Chili Lime Hot Cheetos Chopsticks Flyboy is an exquisitely conflicting pressure point to leverage.

-Looking at the whole of this largely bloodless franchise and saying “I am going to own the color Red” is an extremely commendable and savvy move. A lot of people will point to the outstanding Red Room sequence as the highlight of this idea, but my personal peak is Hitchcockian rip in the sand as Kylo “cuts” through Luke.

-So many medical bays, so many stalling tactics, so many useless disguises. All obscuring a singular truth that an end has to come.

-Loved how the whole premise is something of an inverse of the usual Star Wars formula where the good guys find a small weakness in the big bad enemy and zero in on it with one hit for maximum damage. Here, it’s the bad guys who find a weakness (the hyperspace cheat that is tantalizing never actually resolved) and hammer the good guys with it, causing them to simply bleed out slowly. Evil doesn’t have to vanquish its enemy in one blow, sometimes it can simply wait it out until the light side is too exhausted to continue existing. Poe begins the story in fear of only the former and eventually comes to learn the latter is just as big of a threat.

-So many elements feel designed to piss off the right kind of people in a way that just delights me to no end. The way Luke shows up on Crait, I could almost instantly hear the internet contingent screaming “PLOTHOLE!” in orgasmic unison from the next galaxy over. Then Dameron points out that even he has no idea how Luke got in there. Then it’s revealed that none of that matters At All and I feel like I just got my brain professionally massaged and power-washed.
--See also: Finn & Rose’s frivolous noir-indebted casino detour that ultimately bears no fruit (for character reasons, not because the film forgot why they were there), but also underlines the entire foundation that the past 8 damn films in this franchise are built upon. If you can’t see why a sequence like that is in this at all, there’s no fixing you. (If you want to argue its merit based on pacing issues, however, I might be willing to hear your case in court).

-Yoda puppet returning to the rich sassiness that originally defined him is oh so very delightful and it says a lot about how we’ve grown to hold his character too sacred over the years when the delivery of a word like “page turner” still ruffles feathers. While he’ll never stop ordering his sentences object-subject-verb, I like the idea that Ghost Yoda has atleast picked up a few new phrases during his time spent mystically floating through the entire galaxy.

-Make shit up with The Force! Please, filmmakers, keep doing this! It’s all fuckin’ made up, just do something meaningful and awesome with this imaginary construct!!

-When an audience member chuckled at Rose saying “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.”, I knew this was a going to upset folks who have been trained over the years to find sincerity totally indigestible. I love STAR WARS because it’s one of the last holdout franchises that can still tune into that empathetic frequency without ironically undermining it at almost every opportunity, like the Marvel house-style. I enjoy those movies, too, but people in real life do say I love you to family and friends without squeezing in a wisecrack, guys. Being emotional is okay when it feels true.

-Rian Johnson had a multi-billion dollar company out here disseminating the most adorable animals ever to all of the children of the world months before his film was released where they were *spit-roasted* within the first 20 minutes. That's my kind of sick bastard move.

-Luke confronting the First Order is just about the most chillingly awe-inducing visuals of the year, right up with DUNKIRK’s final images of Tom Hardy standing in front of his burning plane. What an immensely satisfying send off.

-This story is reserved for folks who bothered to make it all the way to the end of this: just after the massive moment in the first act where Leia is sucked out of the bridge into in the vacuum of space, the fire alarm went off in my movie theater (which has never happened to me before). After a half hour of shuffling out and hearing it was a false alarm and shuffling back in, the audience had involuntarily marinated in that moment of Leia perishing for more than a half hour. It was almost like we made our peace with it, that was just how they wrote her out of the movie to begin with. It was defeating, but that’s the way it always was, right? A bummer, but we’ll see where this goes next. When the movie started back up where it left off, and shortly thereafter, Leia force-floats herself back to safer shores, the impact of that moment was massively more tremendous than If we had watched it as is, like everybody else on Earth who was watching the movie for the first time that Friday. Having a fire alarm go off in a movie theater is never not a terribly annoying experience, but…. I can’t really think of a better beat in any movie for that to have ever happened. Truly wild stuff.

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