The embargo is gone so beware of spoilers, but here are a sample of spoiler free comments from the first batch of reviews to be released for The Last Jedi.
Nicholas Barber – BBC
All the monolithic concepts that have been the foundation stones of the Star Wars saga are chipped away. The Force, the Jedi, good, evil, destiny, family, self-sacrifice, war itself … are any of them what they’re cracked up to be? The most intelligent film in the franchise by several light years, The Last Jedi can be seen as the space-opera equivalent of Clint Eastwood’s revisionist western, Unforgiven, in that it pours scorn on its hero’s legendary reputation – but it eventually gives us the satisfaction of seeing why he acquired that legendary reputation in the first place.
To cut a long story short (and I wish Johnson had cut his own long story short): if you’re getting bored halfway through The Last Jedi, hang on in there. Just when you think it’s about to end, it really gets going. And just when I thought the entire Star Wars series was running on fumes, it seems to be getting going, too.
Brian Lowry – CNN
Even with Luke integrated into the story, the film feels like a significant letdown, one that does far less than its predecessor to stoke enthusiasm for the next leg in the trilogy.
Running more than 2 ½ hours, the eighth “Star Wars” movie built around the Skywalker clan is the longest under that banner and showcases an abundance of action. But despite the enormous scope and visual spectacle, too many key components of the film — including those that have kept die-hard fans guessing and debating — prove unsatisfying.
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.
Peter Debrudge – Variety
As it turns out, although “The Last Jedi” meets a relatively high standard for franchise filmmaking, Johnson’s effort is ultimately a disappointment. If anything, it demonstrates just how effective supervising producer Kathleen Kennedy and the forces that oversee this now Disney-owned property are at molding their individual directors’ visions into supporting a unified corporate aesthetic — a process that chewed up and spat out helmers such as Colin Trevorrow, Gareth Edwards, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. But Johnson was either strong enough or weak enough to adapt to such pressures, and the result is the longest and least essential chapter in the series.
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.
Say what you will about Lucas’ clunky, uneven prequels, but they covered a ton of story ground. By contrast, “The Last Jedi” opens and closes with scenes of Resistance bases under siege, in between which the movie’s central concern is the dwindling fuel level on a carrier ship under slow-motion pursuit by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis, who for the first time in his career probably would have been just as effective playing the character without the benefit of motion capture). Even more than last summer’s “Dunkirk,” this movie is about the honor and sacrifice of a successful retreat, which isn’t nearly as dramatic as an underdog offensive.
Manohla Dargis – NY Times
Evil is ascendant. The Resistance — an intrepid, multi-everything group whose leaders include a battle-tested woman warrior — has been fighting the good fight for years but is outnumbered and occasionally outmaneuvered. Yes, the latest “Star Wars” installment is here, and, lo, it is a satisfying, at times transporting entertainment. Remarkably, it has visual wit and a human touch, no small achievement for a seemingly indestructible machine that revved up 40 years ago and shows no signs of sputtering out (ever).
Mr. Johnson has picked up the baton — notably the myth of a female Jedi — that was handed to Mr. Abrams when he signed on to revive the series with “The Force Awakens.” Mr. Johnson doesn’t have to make the important introductions; for the most part, the principals were in place, as was an overarching mythology that during some arid periods has seemed more sustained by fan faith than anything else. Even so, he has to convince you that these searching, burgeoning heroes and villains fit together emotionally, not simply on a Lucasfilm whiteboard, and that they have the requisite lightness and heaviness, the ineffable spirit and grandeur to reinvigorate a pop-cultural juggernaut. That he’s made a good movie in doing so isn’t icing; it’s the whole cake.
The most important opinion however is yours so whenever you see it, enjoy the film.