Wesley Stenzel’s review published on Letterboxd:
Other than the original Star Wars, The Last Jedi is the only film in the saga that works as its own independent story. You don’t need the context of the prior movies to enjoy this one or to understand what it’s trying to say, and, unlike Empire Strikes Back, you don’t need to see the next movie to feel the story’s resolution.
The Last Jedi takes the strong characters of The Force Awakens and gives them a compelling story that works with or without the Star Wars fixings — a story about learning from failure, challenging established order, and doing the right thing. It pushes the characters and concepts (like the Force) into uncharted territory, and it’s unbelievably exciting to witness.
Last Jedi has my favorite worldbuilding of the Disney era — Ahch-To, Crait, and even Canto Bight bring new beauty, culture, and aesthetics to the Star Wars universe. People like to critique the casino subplot, but I think it’s as good as anything in the prequels. The planet itself is gorgeous and super intriguing, and the plotline is totally consistent with the themes of the movie’s overarching plot.
This and Rogue One have the best visuals since the originals. The Last Jedi frames its characters and locations with magnificent compositions and colors. And the editing gives the movie a distinct mystical rhythm that makes the Force feel more ethereal than ever.
And the action! Unbelievably well-executed. The throne room scene is my favorite action sequence in the entire series, plus there’s Luke on Crait, Finn versus Phasma, and the Canto Bight chase (which people understandably hate, but I think it’s fun and brief and thematically consistent).
The only flaw in this movie is the opening — although it’s an important moment for the character and the Resistance as a whole, Poe’s space battle is easily the weakest sequence in the movie. In a film full of bangs, it sucks that it doesn’t start with one.
This is my favorite Star Wars since the original, because it tells its own story and dares to push the series in new directions while still honoring its past and its strengths.