** SPOILER FREE REVIEWS ONLY **
The Star Wars tale is one as old as time with the Resistance fighting tooth and nail with the First Order for survival and ultimately, freedom. The box office numbers have been soaring for Disney ever since they continued the series with 2015's The Force Awakens and given the expectations, critics have showered director Rian Johnson with praise.
We must stress - there will be no spoilers in this review summary, just a gauge of how enjoyable it was for the scribes to watch. Fair to say, it delivers on every metric as the (unmentioned) plot twists makes for a 2017 spectacle few can match.
RJ Embraces History, But Throws Away Convention In Thrilling Last Jedi
Julian Roman at MovieWeb could not find a bad word to say about this picture. For him, the legend grows.
"Star Wars fans, your sky high expectations are rewarded. If possible, stoke your enthusiasm even further. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a torrent of plot development. What you've pontificated, argued, and theorized about, is going to be shattered utterly. Rian Johnson takes the fabled lore from a galaxy far away into uncharted territory. He will have you spellbound."
Johnson's work is all the more remarkable given his ability to switch gears, something that cannot be said of past installments.
"Rian Johnson challenges convention early and often. The genius of his approach is a firm foundation in the mythology; with, dare I say an enlightened take on its future. The Force Awakens was quite similar to A New Hope in plot and structure. The Last Jedi cannot be quantified as The Empire Strikes Back of this trilogy. What happens, where the characters go, and the impact of the climax stands resolutely on its own."
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw gave a glowing 4/5 star review. The overlapping narratives combined with a pure cinematic spectacle made for a thrilling experience that he struggled to find fault with.
"An old hope. A new realism. An old anxiety. A new feeling that the Force might be used to channel erotic telepathy, and long-distance evil seduction. The excitingly and gigantically proportioned eighth film in the great Star Wars saga offers all of these... The Last Jedi gives you an explosive sugar rush of spectacle. It’s a film that buzzes with belief in itself and its own mythic universe – a euphoric certainty that I think no other movie franchise has. And there is no provisional hesitation or energy dip of the sort that might have been expected between episodes seven and nine."
The Movie Diehard Star Wars Fanatics Will Remember
Richard Brody takes an alternative approach to the good vs. evil shtick, arguing that the movie is more about the underlying social commentary surrounding totalitarian regimes. For this critic at The New Yorker, that makes it all the more fascinating.
"The Last Jedi is a story about the Resistance, but the film itself is a cinematic masterwork of the First Order," he concludes. "Above all, it delivers a terrifyingly calculated consensus storytelling, an artificial universality that is achieved, in part, through express religious references.. (It is a ) world has been tamed, tamped down, boxed in, neatly packaged, to a chilling extreme. It fixes its heroes in an abstemious, militarized world of twenty-four-hour-a-day work for mere survival, in which no personal life remains outside the realm of official function, a de-mentalized world that the movie presents, moreover, as appealing."
Finally for Esquire's Matt Miller, he reserves special praise for Johnson - a man who had to fulfill the impossible dream.
"This film proves Disney and Lucasfilm's confidence in director/writer Rian Johnson. Having written such a deep script, he pulls it off with incredible flair. The fight on the planet of red dust that you've seen in previews is both a beautiful and violent work of art."
Just don't expect a fun popcorn ride, because events will take place that will catch you off guard (should you remain spoiler free).
"The Last Jedi is a welcome growth in the most beloved sci-fi franchise. It's the movie that, in many ways, fans have deserved for years. This is finally a Star Wars film that's ready to meet fans half-way, to both entertain and challenge. But that doesn't mean the path will be an easy one."
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens across the US on December 15.