The review embargo for Star Wars: The Last Jedi has officially been lifted by Lucasfilm and much like the early fan reactions on social media, the critic first impressions have been overwhelmingly positive. The reviews mentioned ahead are spoiler free, but if you intend on going in completely blind, you may want to avoid reading any further. Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi is a sequel to J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens and the story begins right where the last movie left off and sets the groundwork for Abrams' upcoming Episode IX.
Movieweb's own Julian Roman praised The Last Jedi, declaring that it "shatters" fan theories and leaves us in a remarkable place. Roman also indicates that there's a lot to take in for the first viewing, insinuating that repeat viewings may be in order. He had this to say.
"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. It's a lot to comprehend at first blush, and there are a few down beats."
Roman also went on to say that the movie "cuts no corners" in its storytelling, allowing a more complex narrative to shine. These thoughts are echoed in the majority of the early reviews for The Last Jedi.
Collider's Matt Goldberg spoke about J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens walking familiar ground from the original Star Wars trilogy and went on to reveal that Rian Johnson went out of his way to avoid those pitfalls. Goldberg talks about the strengths, but also sees some weakness in the pacing. He explains.
"Although, like The Force Awakens, it takes more than a few beats from the Original Trilogy, Johnson feels eager to subvert our expectations, challenge the archetypes the series was founded on, and take bold steps to establishing a new concept of what a Star Wars movie can be while still feeling very much in line with previous films in the franchise. Although the movie suffers from a few pacing issues, they ultimately don't detract from the film's stunning craft and confident storytelling."
There's a lot of ground to cover in The Last Jedi, so it makes sense that there could be some pacing issues. Many find that the pacing and length of the movie are blamed on loose ends that were not explained in The Force Awakens.
Indie Wire's Eric Kohn raves that The Last Jedi is the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back, which has been reiterated in other reviews as well as the early fan reaction. Many thought that the movie was going to borrow a lot from Empire, but that does not seem to be the case at all. If anything, The Last Jedi shares some darker tones, but nothing in the story is a direct link. Kohn had this to say.
"Under the fastidious guidance of writer-director Johnson, The Force Awakens turns the commercial restrictions of this behemoth into a Trojan horse for rapid-fire filmmaking trickery and narrative finesse. The result is the most satisfying entry in this bumpy franchise since The Empire Strikes Back in 1980."
Ira Madison III from the Daily Beast also praised The Last Jedi, noting that she loved the Canto Bight scenes, which have come under fire from other critics. The Wrap's Alonso Duralde also compared the movie to Empire while also calling it a lot of fun. He explains.
"If having pure fun at a Star Wars movie is wrong, I don't want to be right. So for me, The Last Jedi falls right behind The Empire Strikes Back and maybe the original film in providing the thrills and the heartbreak, the heroism and villainy, and the romance and betrayal that makes these films such a treat even for those of us who can't name all the planets or the alien species or even the Empire's flunkies. (Sorry, the First Order's flunkies.) And make no mistake: This is an entertaining chapter, but it also features loss and sacrifice and devastating consequences."
All in all, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is receiving high praise and is even setting up an Oscar campaign for Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridely, but will it be able to live up to the expectations of the hardcore fans? That's the real question, but it looks like it is, at the very least, a step in the right direction. Lucasfilm didn't just hand over the reins to Rian Johnson for his own trilogy for nothing. You can read more reviews for The Last Jedi via Collider's Twitter account.