Watched this for a third time today, this time in IMAX 2D and without any loudmouth kids in close proximity. This keeps getting better upon every re-watch and every plausible plot hole has been filled for me. ALL MY HOLES HAVE BEEN FILLED.
Here's a couple things I really appreciated on this re-watch:
-Rashomon story sequences show how perspective can change an entire story altogether. The camera angles change subtly in all three sequences and they have incredible effect in illustrating the story teller's version of the truth.
-They did an amazing job at changing the visual makeup of certain set pieces. The red curtains burning down during the Rey/Kylo vs. Praetorian Guards, the burning/destruction of the docking bay during the Finn vs. Phasma scene, and, most importantly, the kicking up of the salt and following "saltfall" that shows how Luke's projection of himself isn't leaving footprints--very smart.
-Don't Join, aka D.J. represents our cynical/nihilistic attitude towards pretty much everything (e.g. Trump's presidency and our reluctant embrace of it), and Finn/Rose represent a society of hope/positivism. They may be seen as naive, but I'm looking for to D.J.'s character arc in the next film, as his "maybe" remark might come back to haunt him.
-This film is gorgeous. There are certain shots/sequences that give me goose bumps. Leia's distant stare across the salt flats of Crait, the slow-motion back to back fight choreography with Rey and Kylo, the island. It's pure cinematography porn and I love it.
-Rey's aesthetic transformation is cleverly done and pretty meaningful. When she falls through the "darkness" hole and goes under water, he iconic buns from The Force Awakens are washed away and he more serious The Last Jedi hair style is applied. This erases her whimsical character from the former film and sets up a more serious/conflicted Rey. It could seem like it's just hair/character design, but it really means something here.
-Poe's lesson is learned when he calls the ski-speeders to "back off" and not complete their "suicide run" against the miniaturized Death Star tech, which he would not have done if he didn't have learned from his mistakes with the bombers and the attempt at mutiny. "The greatest teacher, failure is.
” - Yoda
-On the surface, this film is The Empire Strikes Back on the surface level. Unlike The Force Awakens, however, this film subverts every expectation set up by the prior films juxtaposed to paying homage/reverence to it. Abrams is like a cover band, while Johnson is more a remix-artist, taking in the familiar and making something completely new. This doesn't detract from The Force Awakens, it only elevates The Last Jedi (for me).
-They finally brought intricate/metaphorical story telling about morally complex issues to a friggen' STAR WARS movie. It's no longer about light versus dark. It delves into the grey, and I can understand how this can be divisive. But Rian Johnson is spot on in stating that "... I do think the conversations that are happening (about The Last Jedi) were going to have to happen at some point if Star Wars is going to grow, move forward and stay vital
." Amen, brother.