It might be December, but the only holiday fans of the galaxy far, far away care about is opening day for The Last Jedi. But while most of us have to wait until at least Thursday to see it, today was the equivalent of getting a bunch of beautifully wrapped presents placed under the tree, because the studio embargo lifted and we got a whole bunch of shiny new reviews — a real Last Jedi review roundup — to get us excited for the latest Star Wars offering.
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We’re rounding up some of the best and most interesting of them here (all spoiler-free or mostly spoiler-free), because it wouldn’t be the holiday season if we didn’t get to speculate about what kind of gift we’ll be opening. And based on the early reviews we’re getting an exciting, fresh one and it isn’t that big a deal if it might be a tad too long. We’re starting with our own present to you, as Nerdist editor Kyle Anderson wonders if this might be the best Star Wars movie ever. “This, of course, is a question we’ll be debating for a very long time, ad infinitum, but writer-director Rian Johnson has succeeded in a way I think fans have been hoping for since the new trilogy was announced, and a way which we all feared would never happen following The Force Awakens and Rogue One; he’s shown us something different.” For anyone who thought The Force Awakens was nothing more than a remix, Polygon‘s Susana Polo says you don’t have to worry about that being a problem this time, though the movie is a little too long. “The Last Jedi knows that it is not just trying to make more Star Wars. It’s trying to work with symbols and patterns that Star Wars made forever iconic — conceits that other stories have been building on and reframing and refocusing in every medium for 40 years.” Germain Lussier at io9 says even if the film has a few minor hiccups, it’s a stunning achievement that isn’t anything like we might expect. “Days removed from seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I still can’t believe it’s a real movie. I can’t believe what writer-director Rian Johnson did: He took all of our preconceived notions of what a Star Wars movie is and evolved them. The movie is genuinely shocking at times—multiple times—but it also feels fully authentic to the Star Wars universe.” Valeria Complex at Black Girl Nerds calls the movie an event that you should avoid going into with any preconceived notions or theories. “One of the strongest aspects of The Last Jedi is its writing. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, he shakes the foundations of The Force and puts everything we think we know to the test. Out with the old and in with the new is the overall theme, and die-hard fans may not like that direction. Another element fans may not be used to is Johnson’s addition of an unexpected, and yet, deeply refreshing comedic angle that not only works but is deeply rooted in the essence of Star Wars.” Kristy Puchko at Comic Book Resources left the theater with a sore throat from cheering so much, especially from watching two of the most beloved characters from the franchise. “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.” Alissa Wilkinson at Vox says this it is more than just a “Star Wars movie,” one that pushes the characters forward. “And yet, if The Force Awakens was a great variation on a theme, then The Last Jedi is another movement altogether in the symphony. There are images in this movie that provoke awe and delight, and creatures that feel lifted out of half-remembered childhood dreams. And though it briefly appears to lose steam in the middle, that’s short-lived, with a third act harboring sequences that feel like a maestro conducting a concerto the size of the cosmos.” Uproxx’s Mike Ryan thinks the movie will ultimately end up being compared to The Empire Strikes Back, partly because they’re both so different in structure than other films in the franchise. “I suspect, once the dust settles, The Last Jedi might be divisive – at least in the way that Empire was in that it doesn’t follow the traditional structure of a Star Wars movie. Where The Force Awakens felt like a movie by committee, The Last Jedi really does feel like one person’s vision of what a Star Wars movie should be. It doesn’t tick off the corporate studio boxes that are surefire, go to ‘crowd pleasers’ (even though there are many crowd-pleasing moments). In a lot of ways, The Last Jedi is a weird movie. And I’m sure the word “dark” will be thrown around, but it’s not ‘dark.’ Just like The Empire Strikes Back isn’t ‘dark.'” According to Molly Freeman at Screen Rant, The Last Jedi manages to combine both fresh and classic Star Wars elements into something that mostly works, but doesn’t always feel connected. “The Last Jedi doesn’t use the entirety of its cast to their best advantages, and a number of characters feel short-changed for the sake of not overstuffing what’s already a two and a half hour movie. The Last Jedi is undoubtedly the most ambitious Star Wars movie in terms of scope, cast, and sheer length, but the different storylines – while linked thematically – can feel disjointed at times. Still, The Last Jedi is tightly woven, with a breakneck pacing that helps to propel viewers forward. Plus, with characters and a rebellion to which viewers are already attached, and The Last Jedi setting up major stakes, it’s easy to remain invested even when jumping from one corner of the galaxy to another.” Courtney Howard at FreshFictionTV says the movie isn’t flawless, but it’s certainly offers fans what they love about Star Wars, especially if you weren’t enamored with the last two movies from Lucasfilm. “There are certain needs you expect to be met when stepping into the theater to see a Star Wars movie. You want to experience the awesome thrill, sense the magical wonder and see the spectacular spectacle unfold before you. It’s supposed to be transportive in its ways of world-building and deeply impactful in terms of its narrative connotations. It’s a hero’s journey unlike any other. Though I’ve been left feeling out in the cold by The Force Awakens, and practically frostbitten by ROGUE ONE, director Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi gives off a significant more amount of heat than its modern era (i.e. Disney/ Lucasfilm era) predecessors.” You know what? Shaking this present is not going to make it any easier to get through the next couple of days until the rest of us can see it.
What do you make of these early reactions? Are you more or less excited to see the movie now? Tell us why in the comments below.