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star wars: the last jedi
Lucasfilm
“Radically different.”
NO SPOILERS

Critics say “The Last Jedi” has transformed the Star Wars franchise

By Adam Epstein

The first reactions to The Last Jedi are in, and they’re universally glowing. Those who have seen the film say it’s one of the most unique entries in the Star Wars universe, filled with truly unexpected moments.

The full reviews aren’t out yet, but film critics, bloggers, and industry people began tweeting their reactions to the film on Saturday (Dec. 9), when it premiered to an enormous 6,000-person auditorium on the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles. (Its general release is Dec. 15.) Since then, many more early reactions have popped up on Twitter. Disney has embargoed full reviews of The Last Jedi until later this week, but audience members were allowed to post their spoiler-free thoughts on social media.

The pattern is clear: The Last Jedi is unlike any other Star Wars film to date. Many of the people who have seen it sound like little kids who’ve watched a Star Wars movie for the very first time.

That sentiment puts the film in stark contrast to its predecessor, The Force Awakens, which critics liked but also said felt familiar, even safe. The reactions affirm Disney’s confidence in the film’s director, Rian Johnson, who is now developing an all-new Star Wars trilogy that’s “separate from the episodic Skywalker saga.”

The Force Awakens made over $2 billion at the box office and received a 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The Last Jedi probably won’t trump the former figure (it’s tracking for an opening weekend about 20% smaller than that of The Force Awakens), but may get even more love from critics if these reactions are any indication. Film reporter Josh L. Dickey predicted it would net at least a 97%.

Based on the hugely positive buzz and box office projections, The Last Jedi could become the first Star Wars film to land an Oscar nomination for best picture since the first one in the franchise, A New Hope.