final rosie 🔪’s review published on Letterboxd:
(cw: death, suicide) (SPOILERS)
I was overly emotional during the beginning of this film. Every single death hurt me deep; all the unseen moments inside every blown-apart ship tore at me like little fingers; I envisioned a sea of stars slowly being snuffed out, the same way I've been seeing the real world recently. This is because three days ago, much loved kpop star and beautiful soul Kim Jong-hyun killed himself in an apartment in Seoul, and since then every mention of death has sent me spiralling. What does The Last Jedi have to do with kpop? Probably nothing. But the connection meant a lot to me in the moment. I've been feeling a lot of pain and I think it's both heightened and deadened my other emotions, and my experience of this film was a singular one for me.
So yes, it was a massive effort not to bawl when Rose's sister plunged down or upwards or sideways (it's space, who knows) into the fireball that she created, or when Leia glanced at the red flashing ships on her interface and sorrow covered her face, or when [spoilers] slipped away into nothing.
I tried not to let it affect me too much though, because this film has a lot to offer beyond all the death.
For one, it's chock full of incredibly beautiful moments. The salt planet that bleeds, the use of light (warm on Rey's face, white at Leia's back, golden & illuminating Luke and Kylo from behind), the blue and black of a fleet of ships shocked into smithereens by a faster-than-light attack, all the shots where two characters face each other down, each poised for combat at either side of the screen. Certain parts had me leaning forward in my seat, as if that would help me see it better.
I didn't expect to enjoy Rey & Kylo's dynamic as much as I did in this film. In Force it was... painful, and gave rise to the terrible no-good ship that is Reylo, but still it was a good set-up for what this film offers. It's become more reminiscent of Luke's struggle with the light & dark in Vader, but only slightly as, perhaps due to superior writing or framing or Snoke or whatever, it feels more intense, more close. I also adored the big fight scene in Snoke's throne room, as well as the super flash red-uniformed dudes. It was definitely a high action point.
And there is a lot of action here, with very little downtime. It helps, since this film is pretty long, and although my butt started to hurt after two hours or so I was never bored or waiting for it to end.
There are lots of little things that I loved too. All the new creatures, especially the crystal critters, apparently called vulptex, the porgs, and the horse-dogs (fathiers). The way Luke's foot leaves no mark on the red planet (clearly it's an early sign that he's not physically 'there', but to me it's also a sign that he's not there to shed blood, as Kylo is). The way Finn and Rose's relationship evolves (that is: calmly, naturally). The not-so-subtle jabs at people who hold excessive wealth selfishly accrued, and the joyful destruction of it by the film's two primary non-white characters.
Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro are excellent additions. Gwendoline Christie, however, doesn't feature enough. I also don't care much about all the little cameos. JGL was in this?? Well, okay.
I'm intrigued by the cave Rey falls into on Ahch-To, and the giant mirror wall... My guess is that it's just a physical representation of the dark side and the temptation it offers? That seems like the most simple obvious reason for it. Whatever it was, I really liked the imagery. I kinda love Rey's entire arc in this film, actually. Her tearful admission that her parents were nobodies, and Kylo's assertion that she is nobody too; but who was Luke before everything if not some random farmboy on a back-end planet? It's a reminder that the force belongs to everyone, and the final shot is a reminder that anyone can possess it.
Lastly, I must admit that during the film I was not completely convinced by the story, and it took me a little while to come around. I'm not exactly a Star Wars super-fan, and I definitely don't understand how this franchise 'works', so I feel that I didn't understand this as well as others might have, but overall it was a good experience, and I'll reserve judgement on where the story is going until I've seen the final instalment. Middles are definitely kind of weird, I think, but the themes here are very solid, and I'm looking forward to Episode IX very much.