More than nine months after its theatrical release, RedLetterMedia’s review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is here, and it’s just as over the top and tone-deaf as you’d expect.
RedLetterMedia first gained notoriety nearly a decade ago for a 70-minute review (split up over seven videos) of The Phantom Menace, and at the time it received high praise. The reviews are done by a character called Mr. Plinkett, a self-aware film critic who’s been “psychotic” in the past, and even if they arrived long after a film’s theatrical and home release, they’re still highly anticipated by their fans.
Mr. Plinkett’s Last Jedi review clocks in at just over 58 minutes, nearly an hour shorter than his review of The Force Awakens, which is one of the few things it has going for it. And early on, Mr. Plinkett acknowledges that some of his criticisms of The Last Jedi have already been covered ad nauseam by countless other YouTube videos. He makes a couple of interesting connections to Star Trek: The Next Generation and National Lampoon’s Vacation, but a lot of what he says is exactly the kind of thing we’ve heard before—complaints about logic in a space opera where the Force exists at all. It not only takes character arcs and plot points to task but also director/screenwriter Rian Johnson for how he “inverted expectations.”
It’s framed just differently enough for some viewers to call it new and exciting with a couple of false equivalencies thrown in for good measure. Like previous Mr. Plinkett reviews, it not only incorporates what ended up in the film, it also includes behind-the-scenes footage, a documentary about the making of the film, and deleted scenes to argue his points.
Watching his review is unlikely to change anyone’s mind, although that’s usually not the aim of a piece of criticism. Those who hated the movie will feel justified by the criticism while those who loved it will get exasperated by the review’s cherry-picking of certain arguments.
RedLetterMedia released Mr. Plinkett’s review several months after The Last Jedi was released theatrically, digitally, and even on Netflix. The delay in its release doesn’t necessarily hurt RedLetterMedia, especially since it relies on the kind of footage and material not available until film’s home release; the video has more than 627,000 views as of press time and has reached the front page of Reddit.
But it also arrives close to a year into the backlash and discourse against a movie that didn’t give some viewers the story they envisioned or confirm their theories, and many of the attacks have been ugly and personal. They’ve retaliated against Johnson, directed racist and sexist comments toward Kelly Marie Tran for months until she deleted all of her Instagram posts, and they used Mark Hamill’s initial misgivings about the film to justify their hatred of it. The months-long backlash has even gotten comparisons to Gamergate over how a small but vocal subsection of viewers have weaponized their complaints of a film to attack the people who worked on it (or are associated with Lucasfilm) and those who enjoyed it under the guise of criticizing it.
The kind of meta-commentary that RedLetterMedia reviews once offered no longer works as well as it hopes because some viewers, whether because they’re unfamiliar with the Mr. Plinkett character or they agree with his points, will take him at his word, starting the backlash cycle all over again.
The review saves much of its ire toward the characters and their actions—largely attributing that to Johnson’s screenplay and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy—but it’s not a far leap for some of The Last Jedi’s most vocal dissenters to take complaints about Rose Tico, Finn, Poe Dameron, and Amilyn Holdo that Mr. Plinkett resurfaces and direct that toward Johnson and actors like Tran and Laura Dern. Again. And at this point, RedLetterMedia’s Last Jedi review is almost white noise, albeit one that adds to the flames of the larger problem without engaging its own role in keeping the fire burning.