This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
willmoviefan97’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Ok, so now that most people have seen this by now, I wanted to dive deeper into my thoughts with using some spoiler notes
Getting my biggest issues out of the way first:
Finn & Rose’s side mission/Canto Bight: Not to sound like a broken record, but at least on my first two viewings, this is the section that hasn’t clicked with me. Not to say anything bad about Jon Boyega, or Kelly Marie’s actually very impressive turn as Rose, because the two share a nice dynamic, and Rose is a likable addition to the universe, but this takes up at least 20 mins of the film and I think ultimately does derail some of the film’s pacing. Ultimately, this did serve an important narrative purpose, but I just think Johnson still could’ve better executed this storyline that felt a little out of placed with the film’s overall darker tone. The CGI in this sequence also kind of took me out of the film for a split moment.
DJ: The fact that the marketing and everything seemed to be keeping Benicio Del Toro’s role quite under wraps, it made me really think that this would be memorable new character, even if it’s a small role. But, boy DJ is pretty useless and an incredible waste of Toro’s remarkable talent. This could’ve been a great character, but given how little I cared about Canto Bight, I just don’t understand why you needed to cast an actor like Toro. Maybe they’ll find a more engaging way to use him in Episode 9, but just imagine how perfect Toro would be as another high ranking First Order officer. Oh well
The Finn “almost sacrifice” & Rose saves/kisses him moment: Now, Finn/Boyega is still one of my absolute favorite characters of this new trilogy, so it’s not like I at all wanted him to go out in this scene, but watching this for the first time I literally sat in my seat stunned and emotionally moved that this might be the way Finn’s arc comes to an end. I’m happy it doesn’t end here, because Finn is awesome, but part of me can’t help, but wonder if this was Johnson’s original intention for the character and Disney rejected it (rightfully so because Boyega is a superstar). Whatever the case, I just feel the impact is slightly undercut by Rose’s last second save trope and rather corny kiss, but I’d say this moment didn’t particularly bother me as much on second viewing.
I REALLY LOVED (there’s way too much, so here’s just the major stuff):
The evolution of Luke Skywalker over the last 30 years: Listen, is a part of me, pretty upset that we didn’t get one scene of Luke taking that green lightsaber and slice down people with it? Absolutely, but when I really sit down and think about it, that wouldn’t have been a realistic scenario for the Skywalker that Johnson OR The Force Awakens had envisioned. From TFA alone, it’s so clear that the next time we see Luke, he’s not going to the same from Return of the Jedi, because if he was, he never would’ve vanished and walk away from everything the way he did. This is an older, more beaten up Luke that has obviously been through hell and back. When Luke failed Ben, he felt as if he had failed the entire galaxy, and with that reason alone, I felt so emotionally satisfied with just about everything Johnson did with Luke here. Luke tossing the lightsaber like it was the worst Christmas gift he’d received, was obviously a funny gag, but also quite tragic as well. Hamil truly feels like he hasn’t a single beat in over 30 years, and I really do think this is his best performance ever as Luke Skywalker.
The evolution of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo: I’ll never forgive the monster for what he did to Han Solo, but Kylo has evolved into becoming one of the most complex characters ever in the Star Wars saga. His emotional turmoil and constant struggle to fully give himself to the dark side is so thoroughly compelling as well as makes him such an unpredictable character to watch, while yet even still maintains a somewhat sympathetic side for the character. All of this is just displayed beautifully by Driver’s layered and resonate performance that might even be my favorite of the entire film in all honestly. Now with Snoke surprisingly out of the picture, it’s time to see Kylo really go full out on the dark side, because he’s really now the only major villain left.
Rey & Luke relationship: Like much of this film, this dynamic went a bit differently than
I expected and all for the better. Luke’s reluctance in training her was so perfectly fitting for where his character is now. I love the training monologue and actually one of my absolute favorite scenes was their short showdown they have with the spears when she confronts him on what really happened with Ben, right before she takes off the island. Ridley and Hamil are both sensational in their individual performances and their on-screen dynamic.
Rey’s & Kylo’s Force Connection: As someone who really isn’t too deep into the knowledge of what the force can and can not do, I was thoroughly caught off guard and actually so riveted by all these scenes between Kylo & Rey. It was just such a fascinating way I thought to further not only the lore of the universe, but also the relationship between what are clearly our two most important characters of this new trilogy. It’s this connection that makes their conflict so much more complex and emotional, they clearly are able to sympathize with one another in a way and because of that they both have this genuine desire to turn each other on their side. When they’re amazingly fighting side by side, a part of me almost wants to see them continue being on the same team, but that’s just way too easy because these two are obviously destined to be one another’s downfall. The fascinating thing is though, despite Snoke apparently setting up this entire force connection between them, we still see even after Snoke’s death at the end there that their connection is still there when the lock eyes with one another before Rey closes the door. That’s going to be so exciting to see how that might unfold in Episode 9.
The entire sequence in Snoke’s Throne Room: Hands down not only the best sequence in the entire film by far, but I seriously believe this is one of the most satisfying sequences to have ever come from any Star Wars film period. Talk about toying with my expectations, as this sequence went in so many ways I did not see coming at all. Not just beautifully shot, and choreographed, but also so emotionally satisfying in all of the best ways. I already know in the future that I’ll be replaying this scene over and over again.
Luke and Leia goodbye moment: 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😩😭! So beautiful, got even more choked up on the second viewing honestly! RIP to Our Princess, Carrie Fisher
The Death of Luke: So this definitely hit me real hard. Obviously, I was initially incredibly bummed and frankly beyond shocked that Luke won’t be alive for Episode 9 (but guarantee we’ll definitely see his force 👻) when I first came out of this on opening night, but thinking about it more and then seeing it again, I don’t think there could’ve been a more satisfying and fitting way for Luke to go out the way he did. He went out his own way by his own terms and that right there makes me so satisfied with the way Johnson handled his death. He’s in peace now surely!