Star Wars: The Last Jedi Early Reviews Are Strong With the Force

READ our Full Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review Right Now

The first batch of reviews for Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi are now online. Lucasfilm's upcoming sequel to J.J. Abrams' 2015 film, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, continues the story that left off with that chapter and lays the foundation for Abrams' upcoming 2019 film, Star Wars: Episode IX, the third and final installment in the studio's Star Wars sequel trilogy.

The Last Jedi brings back Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, and Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux. The film also introduces franchise newcomers Laura Dern as Admiral Holdo, Benicio del Toro as DJ, and Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, among others. And, of course, Mark Hamill returns (and finally speaks!) as Luke Skywalker, and Carrie Fisher is back in her final Star Wars film as General Leia Organa. Lucasfilm held The Last Jedi's world premiere on Saturday, and the first social media reactions flooded online shortly after the premiere's conclusion, with many critics heralding the film as the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. But are the reviews as glowing as the reactions?

Related: Mark Hamill Wishes Disney Listened to George Lucas' Advice

Star Wars: The Last Jedi's embargo has lifted, and the first reviews are now online (read Screen Rant's review HERE). We've compiled SPOILER-FREE excerpts below with links back to the original outlets for those who want to read the reviews in their entirety.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Adam Driver

Molly Freeman - Screen Rant

Star Wars: The Last Jedi builds upon Star Wars history for a more expansive, high-stakes adventure with plenty of fresh – and classic – elements. Johnson has helped usher this latest Star Wars trilogy into new territory that not only brings plenty of fresh ideas to the table, but honors the original movies as well. And the writer-director has done so with such breathtaking visuals and a deft hand that it’s not hard to see why Lucasfilm would give him his own Star Wars trilogy. Johnson has not only met what were undeniably high expectations with his installment in one of the biggest movie franchises in history, he’s exceeded them. As The Force Awakens proved with its success in 2015, Star Wars is a massively beloved franchise, and The Last Jedi elevates what was already a storied sci-fi/fantasy saga – and sets expectations even impossibly higher for Abrams’ return to the trilogy with Episode IX.

Kristy Puchko - CBR

Writer/director Rian Johnson was handed the keys to the one of the coolest franchises in cinema history, and he’s made an epic adventure destined to have fans exultant. The screenplay shows a great care for the saga’s longest-running characters, meaning Luke and Leia feel wonderfully familiar, yet never stale. In her final Star Wars performance, the late Fisher is fiery as ever, yet regal, and all around glorious, whether she’s smirking at headstrong Poe or urging her fellow rebels to dare to hope. Meanwhile, Hamill’s long-awaited return to the franchise is suitably spiked with bravado, pathos, humor and the smug smile that makes a cameo at the best possible moment.

Matt Goldberg - Collider

Although, like The Force Awakens, it takes more than a few beats from the Original Trilogy, Johnson feels eager to subvert our expectations, challenge the archetypes the series was founded on, and take bold steps to establishing a new concept of what a Star Wars movie can be while still feeling very much in line with previous films in the franchise. Although the movie suffers from a few pacing issues, they ultimately don’t detract from the film’s stunning craft and confident storytelling.

Ian Freer - Empire

“This is not going to go the way you think!” Luke Skywalker warns Rey on the Jedi Temple island of Ahch-To. It sounds like a quote designed for a trailer but now feels like the opening line from Rian Johnson’s pitch. The Last Jedi delivers everything you want from a Star Warsmovie — fierce lightsaber action, space dogfights, exotic creatures, people off British telly as bad guys (hello, Ade Edmondson as a First Order Officer) — but layers it with story twists, character arcs and an emotional wallop that you could never have predicted. It doesn’t all work, but it’s a long time since a huge franchise movie has delivered the thrills and feels in such surprising ways.

Peter Debruge - Variety

“The Last Jedi” possesses the same reverence for the galaxy Lucas created, paying homage in all the right places (from the chills we get from John Williams’ iconic fanfare to the new-and-improved walkers that appear during the climactic siege) while barely advancing the narrative. Ultimately, there’s only so much wiggle room Johnson has to play with a property that seems destined to generate a new installment/spinoff every year until we die — which means that however many Death Stars or Sith Lords the Resistance manages to defeat, there will always be more, and no matter how few Jedi remain, there can never be none.

Todd McCarthy - THR

Narratively, Johnson has a tendency to create digressions within digressions, not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that as long as you're skilled enough to keep multiple balls in the air, which he mostly is. The humor does at times strike notes unusual for the franchise, more often to the good than bad, and John Williams' vigorous eighth Star Wars franchise score never sounds rote or tiresomely familiar. Maybe the film is a tad too long. Most of the new characters could use more heft, purpose and edge to their personalities, and they have a tendency to turn up hither and yon without much of a clue how they got there; drawing a geographical map of their movements would create an impenetrable network of lines. But there's a pervasive freshness and enthusiasm to Johnson's approach that keeps the film, and with it the franchise, alive, and that is no doubt what matters most.

Rian Johnson and Carrie Fisher as General Leia on the set of Star Wars The Last Jedi

Eric Kohn - IndieWire

Under the fastidious guidance of writer-director Johnson, “The Force Awakens” turns the commercial restrictions of this behemoth into a Trojan horse for rapid-fire filmmaking trickery and narrative finesse. The result is the most satisfying entry in this bumpy franchise since “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980.

Ira Madison III - The Daily Beast

There are many familiar beats to The Last Jedi, yes, but they're done with such aplomb, such reckless abandon, that they feel not only fresh but absolutely f**king awesome. Who'd have ever thought they'd see the trappings of a James Bond casino royale in the middle of a Star Wars film?

Alonso Duralde - The Wrap

If having pure fun at a “Star Wars” movie is wrong, I don’t want to be right. So for me, “The Last Jedi” falls right behind “The Empire Strikes Back” and maybe the original film in providing the thrills and the heartbreak, the heroism and villainy, and the romance and betrayal that makes these films such a treat even for those of us who can’t name all the planets or the alien species or even the Empire’s flunkies. (Sorry, the First Order’s flunkies.) And make no mistake: This is an entertaining chapter, but it also features loss and sacrifice and devastating consequences.

Joshua Yehl - IGN

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the quintessential Star Wars movie. It embraces everything in the franchise that came before while taking big risks to push the story into new and unexpected places. While there are a few subplots that weigh it down in the middle, everything ultimately works toward delivering an absolutely stunning sequence of events that make its emotionally rich ending a possibility. It’s dramatic, it’s exciting, it’s heartfelt, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s funnier than any Star Wars movie has any right to be. It doesn’t answer every lingering fan question but it darn well delivers on the ones it chooses to address, ending things on a satisfying note even though there’s one more chapter in this trilogy. And on top of all that, the final scene bucks all Star Wars trends, yet it works because it’s reflective of what makes the saga as a whole so special.

So far, it seems The Last Jedi reviews fall in-line with the early social media reactions, with many critics praising Johnson's directing style and some still calling it the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. Of course, the film has its twists and turns, and anxious fans only have to wait another two days to see the movie for themselves and judge whether or not it really is a worthy chapter of the long-running Star Wars saga.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is currently tracking for a whopping $425+ million global opening. The estimate is quite less than what The Force Awakens did when it debuted two years ago, but these newly-released reviews may bolster that number in the eleventh hour. For now, though, it seems many theaters around the world are selling out (or have sold out) tickets for The Last Jedi.

More: Where To Watch Star Wars Online

Source: Various (see links)

Key Release Dates
  • Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
  • Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
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