'The Last Jedi' Is Being Called The Best 'Star Wars' Movie Since The Original Trilogy

Walt Disney Studios

Star Wars fans are so close to seeing the latest installment in the intergalactic franchise, and the question we're all wondering is... will The Last Jedi be any good? Although the franchise is iconic and beloved overall, even the most diehard Star Wars fans will admit that it has definitely had its rough patches (cough cough, the prequel series), and with a spotty past, it's not exactly easy to rest assured that any new movies will live up to fan favorites. But luckily, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is scoring rave reviews from critics, many of whom are even holding it up alongside 1980's The Empire Strikes Back as one of the best entries into the Star Wars franchise yet.

The new flick's mostly enthusiastic reviews are a slight uptick from the movie it follows up, 2015's The Force Awakens. That movie, which re-launched the Star Wars saga on the big screen a decade after the prequel series ended, was also warmly received, but dinged by some fans for being a slightly altered retread of 1977's A New Hope. As The Force Awakens was mapped on A New Hope, so The Last Jedi is also drawing early comparison to The Empire Strikes Back, except this time the reviews are highlighting a fresher and more original approach to the space opera. Take a look at what reviewers are saying about The Last Jedi below.

"It's The Whole Cake."

[Director Rian] 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. — Manohla Dargis, New York Times

A New Appreciation For The Force

There are moments in Rey’s journey toward enlightenment that are genuinely thrilling, from the sweeping shots of the rocky seabound island where she does her training to her intense mind-meld conversations with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, deepening and clarifying his conflicted villain), which come laden with a troubling, intriguing chemistry. The Force is, to me, still silly Star Wars mumbo jumbo, but Johnson finds a way to underscore it with humanity, with a classical Greek rumble of true pathos. — Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

The Best Star Wars Movie Since Empire Strikes Back

The Last Jedi 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. — Eric Kohn, IndieWire

A Treat For Fans Of The Originals

The Last Jedi harkens back to what made Star Wars so important in the first place — it’s fun, it’s kind of all over the place, but it’s dripping with emotion and pathos and, most importantly, it tells a hell of a story. — Ira Madison III, Daily Beast

A Thrilling, Action-Packed Ending

The climactic last 45 minutes of the film is as thrilling and spectacular as anything Star Wars has ever given us. There are cool, mythic hand-to-hand battles, breathtaking aerial sequences, and one mano a mano showdown that’s as epic as anything Sergio Leone ever dreamed up. And again, the film ends on a note that feels…just…right. — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

It Has More Humor, And Answers Your Questions

[Rian] 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. — Brian Truitt, USA Today

"An Explosive Sugar Rush Of Spectacle"

The Last Jedi gives you an explosive sugar rush of spectacle. It’s a film that buzzes with belief in itself and its own mythic universe – a euphoric certainty that I think no other movie franchise has. And there is no provisional hesitation or energy dip of the sort that might have been expected between episodes seven and nine. — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Great Even For Star Wars Newbies

To say that Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is watchable even by those who have zero investment in the Star Wars franchise or its characters may sound like faint praise, but it’s really the highest. Johnson, who also wrote the script, has taken a property—one that by this point has so many characters, so much mythology and so many requirements—and given us an actual movie. — Stephanie Zacharek, Time

Even The New Critters Are Fun

The new Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is shockingly good... It feels like the first time since The Empire Strikes Back that the Force has extended to the director. Even the usual merchandisable beasties are unusually easy to take, among them a pop-eyed, puffin-like bird that attaches itself to Chewbacca, and eerily beautiful crystalline foxes that eye Leia and company enigmatically as the rebels barricade themselves in a cave and prepare for a possible last stand. — David Edelstein, Vulture

All in all, it sounds like The Last Jedi is both checking major marks for the Star Wars superfans as well as delivering an exciting movie for more casual fans or even newcomers. The major criticism that has popped up in early reviews so far is that its 152-minute length (the longest of any Star Wars movie) tends to lag towards the middle. But it sounds like you'll forget all about that once the climactic final battle rolls around, which most critics pointed out as a major highlight of the film.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters on Dec. 15.