"The Last Jedi" marks the eighth film in the main "Star Wars" story-line and ninth overall, counting standalone "Rogue One."
Here's what reviewers across the country had to say about the Rian Johnson film.
Business Insider's Jason Guerrasio writes that "Last Jedi" is "an emotionally powerful 'Star Wars' movie because it breaks all the usual sequel rules."
"If you are wondering why director Rian Johnson has been handed the keys to the 'Star Wars' franchise, and been allowed to create a whole new trilogy, look no further than what he’s accomplished in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi,'" he said.
"The complexities, anger, and manipulation that Driver gives Ren are a major highlight of the movie," he said. "It’s far from the only thing that’s impressive, but it’s just refreshing to see a fleshed out villain in this era of blockbusters and superhero movies where the bad guy character feels hastily put together."
The New York Times
This review gave it away with the title, "Psst … ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Is Really Good!"
Manohla Dargis adds, "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)."
The Tribune's Michael Phillips writes, "It’s a lot of movie, in a good way. Writer-director Rian Johnson, in his fourth feature and the first of what will be, for him, at least four 'Star Wars' outings, has whipped up 152 minutes’ worth of pursuit, evasion, mayhem, team-building, explosions, nostalgia and, yes, wit (spoiler alert: actual wit)."
Phillips adds that while "Last Jedi" is the longest movie ever made in the franchise, "It just doesn’t feel that way. I haven’t been this into a 'Star Wars' picture since the Empire struck back in 'The Empire Strikes Back.'"
"'The Last Jedi – Episode VIII' of the 'Star Wars' saga – is simply stupendous, a volcano of creative ideas in full eruption. Writer-director Rian Johnson, known for indies such as 'Looper' and 'Brick,' eases into epic filmmaking like a pro," he adds.
Travers continues that "Want lightsaber duels, X-wing dogfights, exotic creatures (oh, those crystal ice-critters!), criss-crossing family bloodlines ('Who's your daddy?' gets asked a lot), high-end FX and lowdown farce? It's all here. But Johnson takes it to the next level."
Anthony Ha called "Last Jedi" not only the most moving film in the franchise emotionally, but the funniest as well.
"One of the most common ways to praise a new 'Star Wars' movie is to claim that it’s the best one since 'The Empire Strikes Back.' But sometimes the clichés are accurate. And I have to say it: The Last Jedi is the best 'Star Wars' movie since 'The Empire Strikes Back,'" he adds.
He continued, "The movie’s final act mixes hope and despair nearly perfectly — I don’t want to admit that this is the first Star Wars movie to make me cry, but here we are."
The Verge's Tasha Robinson wrote, "Johnson had a few obvious options with 'The Last Jedi': continue the trend and remix 'The Empire Strikes Back' into a 2017 version, or buck the trend, move sharply away from the legacy content, and push the series away from familiar places. Instead, he chose a less-obvious option: he did both."
In fact, Robinson said, Johnson plays on fans' knowledge of past films only to surprise them as the film's plot is revealed along the way.
"Audiences will likely come away from The 'Last Jedi' with a lot of complaints and questions," the review adds. "But they’re at least likely to feel they’re in the hands of someone who cares about the series as much as they do, someone who loves its history, but sees the wide-open future ahead of it as well."
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times' Justin Change shared similar sentiments, writing that "Last Jedi" is "the most enjoyable dispatch in a long time from that galaxy far, far away."
But it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Variety's Peter Debruge wrote that while, "'The Last Jedi' meets a relatively high standard for franchise filmmaking, Johnson’s effort is ultimately a disappointment."
"That doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining," he added. "'The Last Jedi' possesses the same reverence for the galaxy Lucas created, paying homage in all the right places (from the chills we get from John Williams’ iconic fanfare to the new-and-improved walkers that appear during the climactic siege) while barely advancing the narrative."
The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter added that while the review is mostly positive, "Narratively, Johnson has a tendency to create digressions within digressions, not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that as long as you're skilled enough to keep multiple balls in the air, which he mostly is. The humor does at times strike notes unusual for the franchise, more often to the good than bad, and John Williams' vigorous eighth Star Wars franchise score never sounds rote or tiresomely familiar."
Todd McCarthy adds that "Maybe the film is a tad too long. Most of the new characters could use more heft, purpose and edge to their personalities, and they have a tendency to turn up hither and yon without much of a clue how they got there; drawing a geographical map of their movements would create an impenetrable network of lines. But there's a pervasive freshness and enthusiasm to Johnson's approach that keeps the film, and with it the franchise, alive, and that is no doubt what matters most."
ABC News and Lucasfilm are both owned by parent company Disney.