Esther Rosenfield’s review published on Letterboxd:
- As thorough a rebuke of the JJ Abrams school of reboot filmmaking as one could hope for. Where The Force Awakens called back to films that came before, The Last Jedi charts new paths. The film toys with what you expect a Star Wars film to be, the shape of its narrative, the perspectives of particular characters. And then it shatters it. For as much as Abrams loves his "mystery box" approach, it's Rian Johnson who's made a Star Wars film that's truly unpredictable.
- There are so many explicit rejections of the previous film that it's kind of shocking. The two-year tension of that cliffhanger ending is immediately and cavalierly diffused. The big lingering mysteries introduced in the last installment are all made irrelevant. It asks you to consider not how things happen, but why.
- Its lack of concern for plot "logic" is admirable. It allows for much freer imagery, because the film isn't chained down by a need to "make sense" first and foremost and can indulge in some beautifully expressive imagery. I particularly liked the battlefield at the end that appeared to be bleeding.
- The film's pacing is maybe its most idiosyncratic element. Johnson throws a lot of balls in the air early on, and their balance is more playful than programmatic. It's the rare blockbuster that heats up in its second act rather than simmering down.
- Is it just me or did John Williams seem sort of lost here? The reprised leitmotifs felt a little on the nose to me in this one. Do we really need to hear the Imperial March just because someone said the word "Vader"? One of his less memorable scores imo.
- Porgs.......are so good.
- The Holdo Maneuver made my jaw drop.
- A lot funnier than I expected it to be! Those beats work because they come from characters and not script dictates like "we need a joke here."
- When the film DOES indulge in direct callbacks, they're always in service of the characters. They're not just there to trigger a nostalgia response in the audience. That said, you'd better believe I teared up at that sunset near the end.
- Not a fan of Benecio del Toro's character. I like his last moment with Finn and I think the series needed a character like this who plays both sides. But he was just too much.
- Maybe I'm overrating it because I'm still riding that Star Wars high, but man oh man. This might be my favorite in the series, honestly. Cannot wait to see it again.