'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Reviews: Critics Have a Very Good Feeling About Episode VIII
Jonathan Olley
Inside 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' World Premiere

Critics heap praise on the eighth installment of the ongoing space saga.

In a galaxy not so far away, some lucky movie critics screened "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and now promise the film will not disappoint.

Picking up after the events of "The Force Awakens," the new movie finds franchise old-timers like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher) crossing paths with relative newcomers like Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) as the battle between the First Order and the Resistance rages on.

After the embargo was up Tuesday morning, reviews for "The Last Jedi" have been pouring into the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. The movie currently stands at a 93 percent fresh rating from 137 counted critics, which is the exact same score "The Force Awakens" received in 2015.

Take a look at what 6 of RT top reviewers said so far:

Ann Hornaday with The Washington Post

"The Last Jedi" looks great, its visual and sound design assembled with care and judicious taste. Ultimately, though, its ballast lies in the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren, whose mysterious mind-meld is fleshed out and deepened, its mysterious origins cleared up only slightly. Whereas Driver has the kind of face and physical presence that lends itself to his character’s ambiguity, Ridley isn't nearly as compelling this time out, perhaps because she spends most of the time being tutored by Luke.

Luckily for Rey, there’s a third movie in her future. And it's lucky for viewers, too. There's no way for the latest trilogy of Star Wars films to capture the novelty and sheer exhilaration of the original films, but Johnson and producer J.J. Abrams understand the spirit and emotion of the thing. When the feelings come in "The Last Jedi," and they do come, they're deep and they’re real. Go ahead and try to watch the penultimate scene without crying, or pretending not to. And may the Force be with you.

Glen Weldon with NPR

The Last Jedi is fun and fast, rollicking and suspenseful. It supplies us with all the things we expect — nay, demand — in a Star Wars movie, and manages to surprise us by revealing that this fictional universe, in which we've already clocked so many hours, can still surprise us.

To do so, Johnson supplies two fuel additives to the existing mix. One, he leans into the sly, knowing sense of humor that was present in the original trilogy ("I love you." "I know."), but that got dumbed way, way down in the prequels ("How wuuuude!") and forcefully reawakened in J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens ("Who talks first? Do you talk first or do I talk first?"). The Last Jedi is both jokier and funnier (two very different things) than The Force Awakens — there's a solid conference call bit in the first reel, for example, and later a very clever throwaway visual gag destined to join Raiders of the Lost Ark's "interrogation device or coat hanger?" sequence, in the admittedly tiny Cinematic Conflations of Torture and Clothing-Care Hall of Fame.

Jake Coyle with the Associated Press

Abrams’s finest touch in his zippy and nimble reboot was in his diverse casting — in particular Ridley and John Boyega, as Finn, the Stormtrooper turned good guy. But Johnson, who also wrote the film, has gone further to shake up the familiar roles and rhythms of Star Wars. Scattershot and loose-limbed, “The Last Jedi” doesn’t worship at its own altar, often undercutting its own grandiosity.

Those breaks of form — formerly mostly reserved for a smirking Harrison Ford — will throw some diehards. Especially in the surreal isolated scenes of Rey and Luke — where Luke, with a thick gray mane and a hermit’s foul-manner is seen drinking a creature’s breast milk and pole-vaulting from rock to rock — “The Last Jedi” teeters on the edge of camp.

It’s not surprising that Johnson, the director of the twisty time-traveling noir “Looper,” has made a movie full of clever inversions. What’s jarring is that he’s made a “Star Wars” film that tries to not take itself too seriously, while simultaneously making it more emotional.

Alonso Duralde with TheWrap

Visually, “The Last Jedi” is a feast. There’s a reason why the color red is so prominently featured in the posters, from the faceless Spanish Inquisition-esque guards for Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) to a planet where a layer of snow covers a surface of crimson salt, leading to a spectacular climactic ground battle. We’re also introduced to a fascinating menagerie of new creatures, including premature fan favorites, the Porgs. In his best previous films, Johnson has demonstrated an ability never to let his art get in the way of his genre pleasures, and once again he’s crafted a good-looking movie that ultimately serves both the characters and the sensations.

Brian Truitt with USA Today

The Last Jedi is Driver’s to rule as much as Force Awakens was Ridley’s, and he’s awesome in it — Kylo is blockbuster cinema’s most magnetic and unpredictable antagonist since Heath Ledger’s Dark Knight Joker. Just as good is the original Star Wars hero: Hamill lends gravitas, warmth, power and even humility to old Luke in a memorable performance.

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.

The sacrifices all pack a gut punch, the space battles and action scenes are killer — one battle featuring Driver and Ridley is a Star Wars all-timer — but the momentum suffers when The Last Jedi's zippy pace downshifts. Its overstuffed length will test the resolve, though come on: We’re already counting down till Episode IX.

Todd McCarthy with The Hollywood Reporter

Hardcore series devotees will decide to what extent the new film functions in an equivalent way to how The Empire Strikes Back did in the initial trilogy in 1980. But what it definitely does is stir the pot with ambivalence on both sides of the good-and-evil equation: Just as Luke is ready to pack it in as far as perpetuating the jedi tradition is concerned, so does Kylo Ren begin to question his abandonment of his true legacy; the tables keep turning here, which is desirable from the dramatic point of view of sustaining fan excitement about what's in store two years from now and beyond.

Johnson, whose three indie-slanted prior features — Brick, The Brothers Bloom and Looper — are all crime tales tinged with off-beat humor, is faced with at least two major narrative challenges: To advance the renewed face-off between the resurgent First Order and the beleaguered Resistance, and to further develop the characters introduced two years ago.

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