Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

***SPOILER WARNING***

“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be.” — Kylo Ren

“The Last Jedi” is the best Star Wars movie since “The Empire Strikes Back,” but it’s also a lot more than that — it’s as much of a new hope for the eroding blockbuster culture of 2017 as “A New Hope” was for the emerging blockbuster culture of 1977. Needless to say, this is something of a huge surprise. At a time when mainstream cinema is typified by the coddling safety of episodic superhero movies, makeshift “Jumanji” sequels, and whatever the hell you call “The Emoji Movie,” Star Wars is pretty much the the last place you’d expect to find someone try to shoot the moon. And yet, that’s exactly what Rian Johnson did with his first foray into a galaxy far, far away.

An immensely satisfying experience that doubles as an urgent call to action for mega-franchise filmmaking, “The Last Jedi” snuck up on us like an Imperial Destroyer hiding in the shadow of a Death Star, shirking expectations at every turn and somehow resolving as both the most ubiquitous movie of the year and the most unexpected. Taking the reins of the most obsessive fandom in the entertainment universe (a responsibility that would scare most directors into deference), Johnson mounted a bonafide insurrection against an industry that’s fueled by nostalgia, grounding his story in a simple idea that was bound to ruffle some feathers and piss off some fanboys: If you really love something, you have to let it go. It’s a notion that other massive franchises should take to heart if they want to survive.

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