Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Arguably the best Star Wars movie in nearly four decades (not a high bar, obviously), but contains enough of a spark of life that one could imagine something more interesting coming from this universe than one could after the reheated spectacle that was Force Awakens. Something about Force Awakens gave me suspicion that it was performative-woke, diversifying the cast without backing it up with any ideas. It could have been a cynical move to increase the fan base. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't (or maybe the ideas aren't mutually exclusive), but it resonated with those newly represented audiences, so maybe the why of it doesn't matter (still, would love to see a written & directed by credit go to a woman on one of these some day). Last Jedi actively (though subtly) brings gender politics into the plot (Poe goes total Bernie Bro on Holdo... a sentence that hopefully makes no sense to anyone in 20-30 years).

If the last movie had a secret thread running through it about pillaging from and worshiping the past and its legends and heroes, this installment is all about questioning the past, upturning it, burning it down and starting anew. It's also about failure. I'm just happy it's about anything at all, which makes it inherently more interesting than any other franchise movie I've seen lately.

I'm sure a dozen or so writers took passes at the script, so it would have been nice for at least one of them to sweep out the dialog that sounds too reality-bound, too slangy, too contemporary (Yoda saying, "it's a real page-turner" was cringey af... I'm surprised nobody said something was cringey af in the movie). Also, some of the posturing about war-profiteering feels flaccid this week, of all weeks, when the sons of Rupert Murdoch stand to make even more fortune from Star Wars' parent company merging with theirs. Not that there was ever anything politically pure about this franchise (which began as anti-Vietnam War allegory and became a toy factory), nor does it need to be, really.

Some of the repetition of motifs and tropes from previous episodes bothered me less this time around too. I've been watching a lot of Shaw Brothers fantasy films, based on popular Chinese novels and full of repeating motifs, themes, tropes and plot points. I guess that's just what cultural comfort food is.

Put Laura Dern in everything.

And RIP Carrie Fisher. I did not expect to feel so gut punched every moment she was on screen. Gone too soon.

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