This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Lucy 🏳️⚧️ 🏳🌈’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" has split the Star Wars community, as well as the film community, in half for three years straight. I just wanted to share my full experience, opinion, and thoughts on the film with you once and for all. Then I'll shut up forever. Ok? Here we go.
The day I first saw "The Last Jedi" was my final day of school before Winter Break. My mom said that I could skip and go see the film if I wanted to. And so, without hesitation, I took her up on that offer. I'll admit to you now, I went into "The Last Jedi" with my expectations relatively medium. As all of us know by now, everyone was divided on it. The praise I was hearing was so exciting! But the hate I was hearing scared me. It got so bad at one point that someone had started a Change.org petition to get the film removed from the Star Wars canon. So, when I walked into the theater, I was expecting something similar to "The Force Awakens". I thought that "The Last Jedi" was going to be a re-tread of Empire, just like how "The Force Awakens" was a re-tread of "A New Hope". And even though I love "The Force Awakens", I can admit that it is very structurally similar to Episode IV. "The Force Awakens" played it safe, and since it was the first Star Wars film in a whole decade, I completely understand why they went that route. But back to "The Last Jedi", even though I was weary, I was still all bubbly inside because it's a new Star Wars film and it's hard not to be at least a little excited. So as a recap, I was expecting to like it, while also expecting it to be safe like "The Force Awakens" was. But what I got was an original, new, fresh, mature, thought-provoking, and stellar Star Wars film. Words seriously cannot describe how blown away I was when I saw this at the theater. I'm not kidding when I say that I think this film is a legitimate masterpiece.
The film starts off with a wonderfully rip-roaring dog fight between a league of X-Wings and a huge First Order Dreadnought. The action is fast, intense, fun, and never loses you for a single second. And that's all thanks to Rian Johnson's kingly direction of this film. The death of Rose's sister, Paige, during this sequence is, at first, thought of as a minor moment meant to humanize the little characters that don't get much screen time, which in and of itself is a great concept that isn't explored much in Star Wars. But her death ends up being a huge emotional driving force for Rose's character later on. It's little things like that to me that make "The Last Jedi" so amazing to me.
This scene is followed up with an attack on the main Resistance ships, led by Kylo Ren, played wonderfully once again by the great Adam Driver. Kylo is blasting his way through all of the rubble and dodging every obstacle thrown in his way. He comes upon the head of the Resistance ship, which happens to be where Leia is. Kylo feels Leia's presence and Leia feels his. One thing about this moment that I don't think gets enough attention for how masterful it is, is the cutting back and forth between Leia and Kylo. The way Johnson uses crossfades to cut implies a powerful emotional connection between the two of them. It's a moment that isn't discussed much but has always hit really hard for me. Kylo has his finger on the fire button but just can't bring himself to do it after murdering his father had emotionally destroyed him. This scene is our first hint that something is seriously emotionally up with Kylo. It builds his character to a whole new layered level and shows that maybe there is good left in him. Maybe letting the past die isn't really what he wants as he claims. Maybe there's still part of him that's human, that's caring. But then, all of a sudden, two Tie Fighters come out from behind Kylo and blow the head of the main Resistance ship to bits. Leia goes flying out of the ship and that leads to the famous "Leia Poppins" scene. And I'll just say it, it's never bothered me. This is STAR WARS. It is a SERIES ABOUT SPACE WIZARDS. Star Wars has always been silly. SO LET IT BE SILLY SOMETIMES. Star Wars has done so much weirder shit than that sequence anyway.
We finally cut to Luke and Rey on the cliff, right where we last saw them at the end of "The Force Awakens". Rey hands Luke his Lightsaber and he throws it off the cliffside. To me, this is one of the funniest moments in the film just because of how minimal the payoff was for such a big buildup. But here's the thing, it only works because the moment is staying completely consistent with this new Luke that we haven't seen before. It makes complete logical sense that Luke would throw his Lightsaber off the edge of the cliff. Do you seriously think that Luke went to a remote island to die alone because he wanted to go help fight the First Order? Do you really think that he was going to just say "Oh, thank you for returning my Lightsaber. Time to go fight the First Order and take down Snoke and Kylo once and for all!" to Rey? Hell no! All of this makes Luke's character SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING in EVERY CONCEIVABLE WAY than if he had just been a "Super-Duper Jedi Guy" that was ready to fight Kylo at the drop of a fucking hat.
There are these scenes in the film, which I've come to call "Force Facetime", that are so deeply compelling to me. Rey and Kylo keep having visions of one another. These scenes are not just entertaining because of how Rian Johnson finds new, creative, and exciting ways to use the Force, but because they also strengthen the relationship between Kylo and Rey and make their dynamic all the more interesting. Rey and Kylo finally decide to meet and discuss what their future together means. Rey thinks that she can turn Kylo. She sees good in him, and we have seen it too. So, we also believe that Kylo can be turned. But it turns out the "Force Facetimes" were a trap set up by Supreme Leader Snoke. Snoke was the one connecting their minds the whole time. Snoke then orders Kylo to execute Rey, which leads to a breathlessly intense scene that ends in Kylo misleading Snoke and slicing his body in half! This GARGANTUAN twist leads to my absolute favorite Lightsaber battle in the entire saga! Everything about the throne room fight scene between Rey and Kylo and the Red Guards is unbelievable! This scene alone left me more on the edge of my seat than Rogue One could ever dream of doing in its entire runtime. What I love so much about this scene is that... this is the first Lightsaber battle for me since Empire, maybe "Return of the Jedi", that put the characters above the action. Out of literally everything in that fight, the thing I cared about most was the characters. Kylo had just killed his master. No one in the galaxy could have seen that coming, not even Snoke. What the hell is going to happen? Has Kylo turned back to the light? Or is it all a ploy to get Rey to turn to the Dark Side? No matter what the outcome was going to be, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. That wonderful understanding of character and emotional connection is what has made Johnson's writing and direction far stand out among his contemporary peers at Lucasfilm.
And, of course, how could I forget to mention Luke's appearance on Crait? To me, it's one of the most genius moments in the whole saga. The little hints at the eventual reveal through moments that you don't notice on the first viewing, like Luke leaving no red footsteps on the ground, make it all the better. And in Luke's final moments, talking to Ben, trying to reconcile with him, apologizing for failing him, owning up to his mistakes and moving on, finding peace instead of letting the past die like he has been, similar to Kylo, realizing that through failure we can become better people and trying to make Ben realize that. It's so heartbreaking, but it's one of the noblest things that Luke has ever done. And Luke eventually dies in the most Luke Skywalker way possible. It's so gratifying to see Luke come full circle and for him to die at peace, one with the Force and with himself. I didn't shed a tear at this moment when I first saw this film, and haven't ever since, but I have always felt the same sense of peace and tranquility that Luke Skywalker had felt in that moment. It's a beautiful scene that resonates with me just as much as the first time we see Luke stare off into the twin suns in "A New Hope".
And in the film's final moments, we see the slave boy on Canto Bight. We see him use the Force to pick up a broom. We get a close-up of the ring that Rose gave him earlier in the film, thus making the Canto Bight storyline NOT meaningless as people like to claim it is. He looks up to the stars with hope for the future, inspired by the heart of resistance and the tales of the Jedi, showing that anyone from anywhere can do great things, which ties into Rey's character arc.
The fact that Rey is a nobody makes her a way more interesting character than if she was related to someone. Someone once said that if they had actually gone the route of making Rey related to some person important, it would have "the emotional and dramatic weight of a feather." And I 100% agree. Showing that she isn't related to anyone important is a much more powerful and emotionally resonant idea than if she was a Palpatine or some shit. As a great YouTuber by the name of Tony Goldmark once brought up, it brings to mind the point of "Ratatouille": "Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere." Same concept. Telling kids that they don't have to come from somewhere important to do great things is an amazing message that more films need to teach far more often.
And that's just about everything I've got to say about Johnson's opus. But one last thing, stop being so rabid to each other. I am so ashamed to be a Star Wars fan because of how toxic they can be to each other. Treat everyone's opinion with respect. It's okay to disagree. But all of you need to seriously chill because it's just a movie. Star Wars is just a bunch of movies. It isn't church, it's a movie. So stop treating people who dare like a film that you don't as a blasphemer that shouldn't be considered apart of the fandom. Remember when they did the same thing to the Prequels? Now that Star Wars fans have something new to chew on, they complain about that instead. And now they like the prequels. Isn't that strange? Part of me thinks that a new trilogy will come along one day, Star Wars fans will start treating that trilogy like the fucking spawn of Satan, and will come back to the Sequel Trilogy and say "hey maybe these are pretty good". And they'll keep doing it forever and ever and ever, like a vicious cycle. Star Wars fans legitimately scare me, and that's why I usually have my comments turned off on my reviews of them. And finally, let's make sure I make this absolutely clear for all of you "TLDR" people: LIKING THE LAST JEDI DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU'RE "DUMB" OR A "FAKE FAN". IT JUST MEANS THAT YOU HAVE AN OPINION. DON'T SHAME PEOPLE FOR THEIR OPINION ON A FUCKING MOVIE. ART IS SUBJECTIVE. I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO POINT THIS OUT.
"The Last Jedi" is an absolute masterpiece to me. It's my favorite Star Wars film, and I don't think that's ever going to change. I love every minute of it. Not a single scene bores me. Not one moment made me feel stupid, made me feel like I was being talked down or pandered to. I was invested, I cared, I felt things that I had never felt in a Star Wars film before. And that's what makes this film so unique and incredibly special.