Taking the time to allow a new “Star Wars” film to sit with you can be daunting. You immediately want to digest, run to the first person you see outside the theater, and then analyze everything you saw.  This new trilogy that is unfolding before us is evolving into what we always expected the franchise to be; an examination of characters that are constantly challenged and progressed forward in tangible and authentic ways.  “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” could very well be the definite evolution of the series yet.

Writer/Director Rian Johnson navigates these beloved icons that we’ve grown to love so dearly and allows time to be an ally to the audience. It is definitely one of the more unconventional films of the franchise as his focus is on marinating the meat before he sticks it in the oven. Ultimately, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a riveting and methodical piece that stands as the franchise’s best efforts since “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” tells the story of Rey, Luke Skywalker, Leia, Finn, and Poe, who after the events of “The Force Awakens,” are thrust into another adventure that will unlock the mysteries of the Force and the secrets of the past.

As news broke recently that Johnson will take on a new “Star Wars” trilogy in the future, you can see why Disney gave him the keys to a new storyline.  Johnson is our new Lawrence Kasdan, the writer of “Empire,” who takes the franchise to new and exciting places that progressively advance the series. He is clearly genuine as he tells the tale. I have to admit, about an hour into “The Last Jedi,” you want a lightsaber battle or sometime of action to take place because of how much dialogue and story is unfolding.  The final third of the film is the payoff.  All that time spent in the inception is tied beautifully to the character’s actions and motivations.  It also presents new stories and ventures for J.J. Abrams to go in the next installment.

On an aesthetic level, this is by far the most gorgeous “Star Wars” film we’ve ever been delivered.  Cinematographer Steve Yedlin‘s high-paced action and framing of scenes capture some of the most definitive shots seen by a 40-year-old franchise.  The Visual Effects– not just relying on CGI but paying homage to its origins with puppetry– is just as stunning and should be deemed comfortably as one of the best delivered in 2017.  You also can’t properly credit the film’s vibrancy without talking about John Williams‘ effervescent score.  The legendary composer continues to perform actively and consistently.

Performance wise, the cast truly delivers.  Mark Hamill is as vivacious as he’s ever been while Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver mirror their complex conflict and emotions with ease.  Carrie Fisher‘s stoic work is a joy to behold, as is John Boyega’s and Oscar Isaac‘s charismatic turns once again.  Newcomers to the franchise like Benicio del ToroLaura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran are some of the film’s biggest highlights.

As someone who believes in leaving everything up to experience, and as a devoted lover of these films, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a monumental achievement. You’re sure to not be disappointed.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and is currently in theaters.

GRADE: (★★★½)

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LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |
PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS |
ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG |
FOREIGN LANGUAGE | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE |