Review Roundup: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

(L-R) Actors Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Director Rian Johnson, actors Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI took part today in the Walt Disney Studios live action presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2017 in Anaheim, Calif. (Getty)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been met with favorable reviews so far with the consensus being that the new movie honors the saga’s legacy and adds some surprising twists. The newest addition to the trilogy delivers emotion-rich action that fans have wanted since the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi follows Luke Skywalker as his peaceful and solitary existence gets upended when he encounters Rey. The movie picks up where Star Wars: The Force Awakens left off, with Rey finding Luke and presumably training with him to be a new Jedi. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren and team lead the First Order in an assault against Leia Organa and the Resistance for supremacy of the galaxy.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi stars Daisy Ridley as Rey, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, the late Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. They’ll be accompanied by their droids and furry friends including Porgs, BB-8, BB-9E and Chewbacca. The film is directed by Rian Johnson.

The reviews seem somewhat polarizing. Though the movie is “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, more than one reviewer has written that the film is underwhelming or doesn’t feel as put-together as its predecessors. In more than one review, the reviewer states that the movie slogs down in the middle and never really recovers. In others, the movie is seen as the most exciting movie in the Star Wars franchise.

Another way that the reviews seem contradictory is the comparisons with previous second films in the Star Wars saga. In one review, the reviewer states that the movie should be compared to Attack of the Clones as far as sequels go. In another, the reviewer compares it to Empire Strikes Back. Most fans of the saga will recognize just how different these comparisons are.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi officially premieres December 15, 2017.

Warning: Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi may be ahead.

Brian Lowry, CNN:

In his review, Brian Lowry writes that the new film is somewhat underwhelming. The film runs for 2 and a half hours, but it is unable to deliver the promised excitement and entertainment that viewers will have been expecting after seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Lowry writes that even with the integration of Luke Skywalker into the main story, the movie feels like a letdown and leaves more to be desired than its predecessors did.

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.

Justin Chang, The L.A. Times:

In his review, Justin Chang of the L.A. Times writes that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the most exciting Star Wars film since 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. He writes that, though the movie does have nods to nostalgia, much like The Force Awakens did, the more current iteration feels more balanced and the nods feel less awkward. Chang writes:

There are sequences here that duly recall some of the original trilogy’s most memorable moments, from a one-on-one Jedi training session to an advance by an army of new-and-improved AT-AT walkers. But this time the nods feel less like obligatory acts of fan service than mythological reverberations, signaling a deeper, more intricate narrative intelligence at work.

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times:

In the review for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis writes that The Last Jedi feels like transporting entertainment. The review goes on to say that the movie has human touch and wit and has no signs of sputtering out anytime soon, if ever. According to the review, the movie follows different story lines and is full of excitement.

The story is a tangle, but its complications are mitigated by Mr. Johnson’s quick pace and the appealing performers. Like most contemporary action flicks, this one more or less plays out as a succession of fights, chases and time outs (for chatting, scheming or lonely musing) across two or more plot lines.

Peter Debruge, Variety:

Peter Debruge reviews the film for Variety, and this review is specifically damning. Debruge writes that the movie’s plot can be compared to Empire in the basic ways; it’s a darker movie and the force-sensitive character is going through training while subsequently setting up a cliffhanger to lead to the eventual conclusion of the trilogy. The movie, however, does not feel as though it is essential to the franchise and almost feels as if it’s just a placeholder.

That doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. Rather, despite the success of “The Last Jedi” at supplying jaw-dropping visuals and a hall-of-fame-worthy lightsaber battle, audiences could presumably skip this film and show up for Episode IX without experiencing the slightest confusion as to what happened in the interim. It’s as if Johnson’s assignment was to extend the franchise without changing anything fundamental, which is closer to the way classic television and vintage James Bond movies operate than anything George Lucas ever served up.

The official release date for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is December 15, 2017, but, as custom goes, the movie will be released Thursday night at 6 p.m. local time. The movie runs for 2 hours and 32 minutes.

Read More