The most anticipated movie event of the year is so close, we can taste it. Two years after The Force Awakens, Star Wars fans will soon be lining up in droves to take yet another trip to a galaxy far, far away with the looming release of The Last Jedi.
Reviews for the legendary franchise’s eighth episode have been largely positive ahead of its release, with praise going toward its visuals, storytelling, humour and integration of engaging new characters. The film’s Rotten Tomatoes score currently sits at 95 per cent, while its Metacritic score clocks in at 86 per cent so far. In particular, the Los Angeles Times and IndieWire have even gone so far as to call it the best film in the franchise since The Empire Strikes Back.
Is it one of the best movies in franchise history? We’ll let you decide when it hits theatres Friday December 15 (though advance screenings are happening as of today). In the meantime, and without any spoilers (obviously), here are five major things critics are saying about The Last Jedi.
5. The movie’s got jokes.
The Star Wars franchise has always been known for its comic relief – whether intentionally or not – and The Last Jedi appears to have stepped the hilarity factor up yet another notch. Mark Hamill’s return as Luke Skywalker is described as getting out “one of the movie’s biggest laughs before uttering a single line” by WIRED, and publications like Zimbio and Gizmodo have singled out Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux as being particularly hilarious. The Independent even teases a self-referential metaphor for The Force Awakens in a gag seen early in the film. Not only are fans in for some eye-popping visuals and classic Star Wars action sequences, they’re in for a good chuckle as well.
4. Rose Tico is getting rave reviews.
New character introductions can be a hit or miss affair with Star Wars movies, but this character – a maintenance worker who joins the rebellion alongside her sister Paige, with a lifelong hatred of the First Order – is getting all kinds of praise from critics. The Guardian calls Kelly Marie Tran’s performance as Rose “terrifically good”, and Polygon calling her “instantly lovable” – while Marie Claire says her performance comes with “an effusiveness that doesn’t surmount her resolve or her sorrow,” calling her “easily the most exciting addition to the franchise.” All in all, she looks like she could very well be the revelation of this instalment.
Speaking of new additions to the franchise: for those of you worrying that these furry little space critters were gonna be this trilogy’s Jar Jar Binks, you can all breathe a sigh of relief. Critics have thus far been positive toward the new creatures, with plenty of colourful descriptions for their physical appearance to boot. Some of the best ones? The New York Times calling them “saucer-eyed mewling creatures with plump, puffin-like bodies,” Entertainment Weekly’s description of their “squat guinea pig bodies and sad Anime saucer eyes”, and Vanity Fair calling them “chirruping little chipmunk/puffin things that are adorable and amusing and employed with just the right amount of restraint.”
2. Adam Driver’s performance as Kylo Ren is a standout.
You may have despised him for what he did midway through The Force Awakens (you know which part we mean), but Adam Driver’s portrayal was nonetheless frighteningly convincing. The actor known initially for his role on Girls returns as central bad guy Kylo Ren, and apparently, he’s even better this time around. Rolling Stone says Driver “[knocks] it out of the park”, The Guardian calls his performance “superb”, and Metro Weekly says Driver gives “a performance of almost Shakespearean dimensions.” USA Today has even gone so far as to call Kylo “blockbuster cinema’s most magnetic and unpredictable antagonist since Heath Ledger’s ‘Dark Knight’ Joker.” In other words, we could be in for an Oscar-quality take on a sci-fi villain.
1. Rian Johnson delivered the goods.
Much has been made of writer-director Rian Johnson (known previously for 2012’s Looper) taking the reins from J.J. Abrams for this instalment, but based on many reviews, his turn in the director’s chair for The Last Jedi is a triumph. Entertainment Weekly calls his take on the franchise “undeniably impressive”; Rolling Stone says Johnson “eases into epic filmmaking like a pro”; and the Washington Post saying he “adroitly maneuvers his characters” through a convoluted plot. With Johnson also tapped to do a new trilogy set within the Star Wars universe, expect his influence to still loom large over the franchise even if Abrams is directing the final film in the main trilogy.