August 17, 2019 / 6:57 PM

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review Roundup: The Best Entry Since ‘Empire Strikes Back’?



The latest Star Wars movie, out Dec. 15 in the United States, has captured the hearts of critics. Most of them think it's a triumph; a worthy entry that introduces new elements and themes bound to take the franchise to new directions.

Warning: There might be some spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.

The Last Jedi, helmed by Looper and Brick director Rian Johnson, picks up right where 2015's The Force Awakens left off: Rey tails an aged, zen-like misanthropic Luke Skywalker in a deserted island for some Jedi training; the Resistance prepares to continue the fight against the First Order; and Kylo Ren struggles with possibly conflicting feelings about the dark side.

Thus far, the newest Star Wars installment has a score of 86 on Metacritic, and sits at 94 percent at Rotten Tomatoes, indicating near-universal acclaim, usurping the first Star Wars film, A New Hope, which is at 92.

However, the movie is not without its flaws, as many critics point out. Here's what they have to say about The Last Jedi:

Vulture: "The new Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is shockingly good," writes Vulture. "What you'd never dare expect is high style, let alone the kind of emotion that holds you through the requisite hopscotching among three different story arcs."

Of Johnson, Vulture says:

"He pinpoints the intersection between characters' desperate need to belong and the special effects that will lift those longings into the realm of myth. He achieves what no one else has since The Empire Strikes Back: a fusion of junkyard genre parts and passion."

Time: "[Johnson's] movie has a sense of humor about itself and a sense of joy, but its emotional generosity, even in the midst of all the extravagant green-screen work, is its best special effect. He's taken Disney's money and given the audience all the things money can't buy: Instead of selling to us, he's speaking to us. You can feel the difference."

The Boston Globe: "Above all, The Last Jedi has both lightness and gravitas — the weight that comes with a smartly made, fully felt pop entertainment connecting with a cultural moment in which a majority of audiences may feel beaten down by events in their own universe," writes The Boston Globe.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a thrill ride and a great good time, but it's also about finding inspiration among the embattled and the principled, no matter how outnumbered they or we may feel."

The New Yorker: "Star Wars: The Last Jedi yokes Johnson's formidable cinematic intelligence to an elaborate feat of fan service that feels, above all, like the rhetorical and dramatic gratification of a religious sect," writes The New Yorker.

"Despite a few stunning decorative touches ... the movie comes off as a work that's ironed out, flattened down, appallingly purified."

Slate: "Like many before it, The Last Jedi has already been hailed as the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back, and while that's true, it's too faint a compliment. It's a film of genuine beauty, one where you come away as eager to talk about the set design and the choreography as you do the fate of the galaxy or what might happen next."

Roger Ebert: "It's everything a fan could want from a Star Wars film and then some. Even the sorts of viewers who spend the entire running time of movies anticipating every plot twist and crowing 'called it!' when they get one right are likely to come up short here," writes Matt Zoller Seitz for the famed critic's site.

"The movie works equally well as an earnest adventure full of passionate heroes and villains and a meditation on sequels and franchise properties. Like The Force Awakens, only more so, this one is preoccupied with questions of legacy, legitimacy and succession, and includes multiple debates over whether one should replicate or reject the stories and symbols of the past."

Village Voice: "Writer-director Rian Johnson has certainly made the busiest Star Wars film of them all, but he keeps it from becoming a slog by infusing it with humor, verve, and visual charm," writes The Village Voice.

"The Last Jedi is a better film than The Force Awakens — it's faster, funnier, and has both more sweep and more originality — but I still didn't find any moments here as hauntingly moving as that earlier film's first flight of the Millennium Falcon, or the death of Han Solo."

Metro: "Packed with fresh ideas, bold decisions and iconic moments, Rian Johnson has taken The Force Awakens reset button and expanded it in every way — delivering the greatest Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back."

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