…isn’t ready because I only saw it last night on the Disney lot, and having crashed at midnight (the show broke around 9:45 pm plus we hit the Smoke House for a late dinner) I didn’t feel like rising at 5:30 am. It takes me a good two or three hours to bang out a comprehensive, smoothly composed, typo-free review.
But I’ll say this: Steve Yedlin‘s cinematography and particularly the darkish lighting is spookily, hauntingly beautiful — a noir palette crossed with Vermeer — and very reminiscent of Peter Suschitzky‘s lighting of The Empire Strikes Back. Trust me, Yedlin sat down with director Rian Johnson (who worked with Yedlin on Brick, The Brothers Bloom and Looper) and they definitely said to each other “let’s make this look like a close visual kin of Empire so we can get that whole Empire fanboy crowd including guys like Wells…shadowy faces, inky blacks, robust colors but never awash in bland light.”
Plus I admired the energy and invention that went into the new elements, the general feeling of mad narrative propulsion. I honestly liked it better than The Force Awakens because it seemed….well, because it tries to reignite Empire-like elements as opposed to re-booting New Hope-ish plot points, which is what The Force Awakens was about.
This, basically, is what The Last Jedi makers are saying: “We’re trying to rebake Empire, all you middle-aged male fans out there who were young teenagers when The Empire Strikes Back opened in ’80. We did the best we could while sticking, of course, with our own story and characters. We know you expected something like this, and we’ve tried to do that to some extent.”
Example: Just as Mark Hamill‘s Luke Skywalker spent Empire‘s middle chapter on the swampy planet Degobah and in a meditative mode at that, Daisy Ridley‘s Rey spends roughly the first 70 minutes on Skellig Michael with Skywalker, and doing little besides talking about karma, fate and destiny.
This is a much faster film, crazy shit-wise and cutting-wise, than Empire ever considered being. That’s both good and bad as I’ve never been (and never will be) a fan of haste and velocity for their own sakes. But it does whip along like a bat out of hell.
I wasn’t head-over-heels in love with The Last Jedi (it really didn’t have to be 152 minutes), but it’s easily my favorite Rian Johnson film thus far. It’s a rousing, well-made serving of formulaic corporate product. Hats off and correct salute as far as that goes.