After Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiered in Los Angeles this past Saturday, some attendees were hailing it on Twitter as the best Star Wars movie ever. Was it hyperbole or the real deal? Has writer-director Rian Johnson bested George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, and Richard Marquand with Episode VIII?
Official reviews are now out, and critics are praising the film for having a freshness that's been lacking in the franchise since its revival, although some say it might run a bit too long. It sounds like the cast has crackling chemistry, and the film looks to be much funnier than the dark trailers may have indicated.
Breathe, just breathe, and see what critics are saying:
"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." -Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
"It may sound like a backhanded compliment, but with so much on the line, Johnson deserves credit for not messing things up. By contrast, Lucas got himself into trouble for not catering enough to fans with his early-2000s prequel trilogy, a situation J.J. Abrams (who serves as an executive producer here) addressed in The Force Awakens, which felt like a thrilling, big-budget Star Wars fan film." -Peter Debruge, Variety.
"You feel Mr. Johnson periodically reining himself in, yet the movie cuts loose when he does, as when he embraces the galaxy’s strangeness, its non-humanoid beings as well as its magic and mystery." -Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“ 'Experience' is a good word for it, too, because that’s what The Last Jedi feels like. It’s a movie, sure, but it’s somehow more than that. Maybe that’s just because it’s Star Wars. Maybe that’s because it’s so densely packed with mythology and entertainment. But either way, The Last Jedi is a top-of-the-line, A-plus Star Wars and scifi movie — one that we’ll be watching and discussing for as long as there’s a galaxy far, far away." -Germain Lussier, Gizmodo
"[Johnson] piles on the space dogfights and lightsaber duels. He significantly expands the roster of Force-related powers, in ways that are going to prompt endless fan debate (and resistance, and resentment, and backlash) after the fact, but that provide plenty of surprises along the way." -Tasha Robinson, The Verge
"If The Force Awakens was a matter of giving fans what they wanted, then The Last Jedi is giving them what they need, which is more complex characters and themes that break free of the traditional archetypes and mythic tropes the franchise was founded upon." -Matt Goldberg, Collider
"What precedes that overall, alas, represents a creative step back, not a leap forward. Optimistically, The Last Jedi leaves plenty of intriguing possibilities for the climactic installment. But there's also the kind of room for improvement that remind us when it comes to Star Wars, such hopes — new or otherwise — spring eternal." -Brian Lowry, CNN
"Johnson goes a little rogue from past filmmakers by infusing Last Jedi with more modern hilarity and occasional quirkiness than you'd find in your normal Star Wars (though it works better here than in, say, Thor: Ragnarok). There's no denying his obvious Star Wars love, though. In addition to including unexpected goosebump-inducing callbacks, the director takes time to deconstruct certain aspects of franchise lore that before now probably just existed on a Reddit board. Johnson also adds new wrinkles to the mystical Force, some of which work while others might polarize purists." -Brian Truitt, USA Today
"One way to look at The Last Jedi is that it’s a movie for the fans, in that it’s largely concerned with playing variations on familiar themes, and sometimes succeeds in breathing new, even beautiful, life into them. Another way to judge it is to suggest that it’s a betrayal of the franchise’s most loyal fans, in that it’s frequently sloppy and frayed, full of ideas and events that fall apart the minute you start to examine them in any detail." -Alyssa Rosenberg, The Washington Post
"The Last Jedi is a triumph with flaws. But through those flaws, it leaves us with a message as old as time. Our heroes don’t live forever. Death is inevitable. But their battle, if passed down to the right hands, will continue along with their memories. Both in front of and behind the camera, Star Wars has been passed to the right hands. The Force will live on. In these troubled, angry, and divisive times, that message of resistance isn’t just the stuff of innocuous tentpole diversions, it’s the closest thing we have to A New Hope." -Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly