Ah yes, The Last Jedi. You know that movie that in the span of a few short months went from being the only thing that movie nerds wanted to talk about to a topic of conversation so divisive and exhaustive that even bringing up the film is the current leading cause of eyerolls worldwide. I loved the movie, which means many of you will discount this review entirely at this point. For those who want to stick around, I’ll try to keep it brief. We’ve all spent too much time thinking about this movie already. No need to dwell.
Simply put, The Last Jedi feels like a Star Wars movie made by a fan unafraid to take risks. Given the enviable Empire Strikes Back chapter of the new trilogy writer/director Rian Johnson found himself in a unique position. He was able to take all of the old toys out of the Star Wars closet that JJ Abrams freshly dusted off and play with them freely alongside a freshly established world filled with promise. The easiest approach would have been to play into all of the obvious tropes and fantasies tied into Star Wars, even stealing a few ideas from the legion of fanfiction, comics, novels, and games that unofficially sequelized George Lucas’ space opera turned 20th century religion for decades.
Instead, Johnson decided to play into what conceptually made The Empire Strikes Back such a brilliant movie rather than pushing the easy fanboy buttons. Johnson didn’t need to provide closure or catharsis with this sequel. He needed only to grab the balls JJ tossed into the air and keep them up there while further complicating their fall. So, he made a Star Wars movie that questioned the nature of a Star Wars movie. A film where Mark Hammil’s once noble Luke was transformed into a worrying cynic who questions the value of the Jedi. A film where all the new heroes fail and their motives (along with those of the villains) are questioned in intriguing ways. A film that takes the heroes at their lowest point, while also showcasing a moment where it can all turn around. The Last Jedi is as complicated and challenging of a Star Wars movie as has ever been made, which is likely why it proved to be just as divisive as Empire Strikes Back was back in 1980 (despite the inexplicable historical blinders that made everyone think that dark sequel was always a beloved classic).
The Last Jedi is filled with beautifully designed creatures, visceral space battles, stunning moments of visual splendour, eccentric characters, sardonic humour, restless momentum, brilliant special effects, and unexpected (yet poetically inevitable) narrative developments. In other words, it’s everything that a Star Wars movie should be yet executed in fresh and unpredictable ways. The sort of thing that obsessive Star Wars fans begged for online for years. Then when it arrived, they whined because it didn’t live up to the theories they read on reddit. This is why we can’t have good things. To those upset because of nitpick logic issues in a fantasy narrative or the attempts at progressive casting choices in a franchise blockbuster, what can I say? It’s a shame you didn’t get a thing in exactly the way you wanted it. You have my sympathies. I felt the same way about Justice League, which you ironically defend despite far more egregious problems. Oh well, I guess that means we’re kind of the same. Feel free to troll me now. I’m easy to find and you’ve found me before.
In conclusion, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the movie the franchise needed and the one that fans deserved. In a few years that’ll be clear. For now, let the snark fly!
As far as I can tell Disney as a rule over at their home video division stating that any release with the words “star” or “wars” in the title must get the absolute finest technical presentation. The Last Jedi is no exception. Rian Johnson’s bold color choices leap off the screen in HD, while depth and detail is rich enough for nerds to study in frame-by-frame detail. The soundmix is predictably bombastic, shattering speakers on highs while providing a richly enveloping soundscape on lows. If you care about home theater presentation, rest assured that this Last Jedi disc will instantly become one of the bright n’ shiny beacons of your collection.
Even better, this is quite possible the most extras stacked disc ever awarded to a Star Wars film on it’s initial release. That’s damn exciting for those of us who loved the movie. Everyone else will only find more reasons to whine about The Last Jedi on this disc, if only because it essentially stars Rian Johnson. The biggest and most substantial feature is a 95-minute documentary about the making of the movie from Johnson’s point of view. It’s a fascinating presentation of what it’s like to be at the center of such a massive production, coming from a guy who loved the experience so much that he’s visually emotional as the project nears completion. The doc is filled with incredible footage, from the massive nippily milk puppet being helicoptered over to Luke’s isolated Irish island, to Carrie Fisher cracking wise with her castmates on her last day ever playing Princess Leia. It’s an extraordinary doc for those who care, featuring moments guaranteed for internet infamy (get ready for more jokes from Hamill about Johnson’s take on Luke and a Solo spoiler that’ll piss off anyone who didn’t consider the origin of a certain prop for ten consecutive seconds) as well as very quiet human moments that grounds a massive production in ways rarely seen on a DVD promo doc. It’s a special thing. It’s also very telling that the Rogue One DVD doc focused on Kathleen Kennedy and her team of producers, while Johnson is the focus here. But that’s a different discussion for a different day.
Since the main Last Jedi doc is such a specific director’s journey dealing with the day-to-day realities of film production, Johnson also gets a second 10 minute documentary about his theories on the nature of the force as well as a delightfully detailed audio commentary track over the feature. Both boast quite in depth discussions about the motivations behind his storytelling decisions and prove what a thoughtful and measured filmmaker he truly is (despite what you may have heard from WampaLover69 on Twitter). There are also three technical breakdowns of particularly challenging scenes that’ll be catnip for special effects nerds (running just over 30 minutes total), a wonderful peak at Andy Serkis’ pre-mo-cap performance and a half hour of deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary. In a pleasant surprise, there are actually some damn delightful dropped scenes here. For the sake of pacing and The Last Jedi not stretching to 3 hours, Johnson and co. made the right call cutting all the excess material. However, the hysterical deleted scenes with the frog force nuns are almost worth the price of the disc alone. It was actually worth cramming all of this material on the supplements disc for once. Thank god.
So what we have here is easily the best stand alone Star Wars Blu-ray release to date for easily the best Star Wars movie since the 80s. True believers should pick up and cherish the disc immediately. Everyone else should just stay in their isolated hut where they can angrily rant against the crimes of the film in peace and never bother anybody else about it again. Isn’t it amazing how all the fanboys butthurt by The Last Jedi behave like the version of Luke in the film that they claim to hate. You know, lost in the past and furious with anyone who appreciates new takes on old myths? Worth thinking about. Almost like it was a deliberate choice by Rian Johnson or something. Hmmmm….
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