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 finally got around to rewatch The Last Jedi, and it truly was the best decision I've ever made. In my original review, I said that I liked the movie but that it was held down by many flaws that I just couldn't look past. On a second watch, a lot of these flaws completely disappear. Once you know where the story is going, everything makes so much more sense (which I guess could be seen as a flaw in and of itself, since a movie (especially a blockbuster) shouldn't really have to be watched twice to be fully enjoyed).
It has been said countless times before but The Last Jedi is 80% character development, and all of it is done through failure and the knowledge that comes with it.
- Poe learns to think as a leader and not a brash hero, which hints at him leading the resistance once Leia is gone.
- Finn realizes the importance of the resistance and the impact one can have on each and every one, even creatures on a far away planet. When he was once only concerned with Rey, his friend, he ends the movie ready to sacrifice himself for a movement he now truly believes in. I didn't like Finn & Rose's excursion extravaganza on my first watch, but it is so much more enjoyable when you see the underlying themes and lessons the characters are learning (I slightly expand on it below).
- Rey learns that she has to find her own way: not to iconize the past (Luke & the Jedi), not to look to somebody else for answers (her parents & Ben, who she says will become the one to save the world from the First Order once he'll turn to the light, as if she herself was just a mediator and nothing else), and not to kill the past either (Ben's way & Luke to some extent).

Poe & Finn actually have similar arcs that go in pair with Johnson's choice to show resistance fighters, their actions and deaths and how they matter as much as our main characters. Even though Poe has been in the resistance for a long time and looks up to Leia, his main motive is being a hero, being the man to save the day, at the cost of other people's lives, the same way that Finn only thinks about Rey and himself at the start of the movie, trying to escape so that they'll both be safe without considering finding a way to save the resistance instead. In the end, they both realize that the movement and the group matter most than one individual or one single brave but brash action.

Rey & Ben are the other parallel arcs and what I found interesting on this second watch is that I noticed that they are both trying to emulate the people they look up to, mirroring Vader and Luke's actions in Return of the Jedi: Ben "I want to be the new Darth Vader" Solo thinks he can turn Rey to the dark side and he brings her to meet the Supreme Leader, which he eventually kills when Snoke orders him to kill Rey (like Vader brings Luke to meet the Emperor which he then kills when the Emperor orders him to kill his son). Rey fancies herself to be a new Luke and does exactly as he did with Vader, believing a 100% in Ben's future turn to the light side. But they are not Vader and Luke, and this is not Return of the Jedi, and the plan completely fail. Ben does not sacrifice himself; instead, he brings back Anakin's plans before becoming Vader (getting rid of the past and ruling the Galaxy with someone he thinks understand him), and Rey refuses, dividing them even more.
(I don't know enough about Star Wars to make relevant parallels and connections, but it's interesting how The Last Jedi parallels Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Siths, the two last movies of the previous trilogies).

Also, while Finn & Poe and Rey & Ben have similar arcs, there are similarities between other combinations: Poe & Rey both have too much confidence (they both are certain their plan won't fail) and Finn & Rey both were confronted to the possibility of a grey area that only made them more sure of their true place. This last theme is actually one of my favorites of the film, and one that I know disappointed a lot of people. I like grey characters because they're often more developped, but I also find it extremely important to have characters be as good as they can be. Light and dark may not be as clear cut and obvious in the real world, but that does not mean that nothing is truly wrong and nothing is truly right. There are sides and choices to make.
The first time I watched DJ (Benicio Del Toro's character) offering Finn the idea of "being free" by not choosing any sides, I fully thought the movie would go down that road, having Finn choosing a grey area and presenting an anti-war-by-not-participating-in-the-war-altogether mentality, which I didn't dislike but was cautious about. Instead, Finn realizes through DJ's betrayal that by not taking sides, you just become apathetic and allow horrors to happen, and that is when he becomes "Rebel scum".
In the same way, Ben proposes to Rey a new order for the galaxy, one that wouldn't necessarily be as evil as the First Order or the Empire, but one that would need the destruction of the Resistance fleet and of Luke Skywalker, which Rey cannot allow. After the proposition, Rey enters the Resistance not as someone who is there to find Luke (TFA) or to turn Ben (the first parts of TLJ), but as someone able to make change on her own.

Essentially, my rewatch helped me realize how nicely this all flows together, how interwoven the stories are, and how the converging of every stories near the two hour mark is incredibly satisfying. The Last Jedi still has flaws (among other things: the humor, sometimes over the top, can ruin the moment; Leia's Force scene is still embarassing to watch; and I still wish Rey had had more screentime and more of a bond with Luke), but its ambition and rewatchability makes up for most of them.

I don't think you would like the movie better by rewatching it if you fully hated it the first time, but if you were divided like myself, you definitely should give TLJ another shot.

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