I know many of you are worried about spoilers. This review will be very light on them to preserve the experience of seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi for the first time. But let's begin with what you really want to know: Star Wars: The Last Jedi is awesome. I laughed. I cried. I screamed and cheered so much that my throat went raw, and I left the theater on a high of exhilaration.
Now, let's fill in some details.
The Last Jedi picks up right where The Force Awakens left off. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has sought out Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in hopes of turning the tide of the Resistance's war against the Empire and Supreme Leader Snokes (Andy Serkis). Meanwhile, General Leia (Carrie Fisher) and her forces are on the run from General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) gets plenty of dashing screentime in this thread, and Finn (John Boyega) awakens from his coma in time for a side-quest with a courageous maintenance worker named Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). Other colorful new characters are portrayed by Laura Dern, who is radiant, and Benicio Del Toro, whose signature quirk was born to be in a Star Wars movie.
Writer/director Rian Johnson was handed the keys to the one of the coolest franchises in cinema history, and he's made an epic adventure destined to have fans exultant. The screenplay shows a great care for the saga's longest-running characters, meaning Luke and Leia feel wonderfully familiar, yet never stale. In her final Star Wars performance, the late Fisher is fiery as ever, yet regal, and all around glorious, whether she's smirking at headstrong Poe or urging her fellow rebels to dare to hope. Meanwhile, Hamill's long-awaited return to the franchise is suitably spiked with bravado, pathos, humor and the smug smile that makes a cameo at the best possible moment.
Those who grumbled over The Force Awakens feeling structurally like a New Hope reboot will be happy to learn Johnson's no longer retreading or playing it safe. The Last Jedi expands the cinematic world of Star Wars, introducing a telling new location. More crucially, he answers a big question fans have been asking since the introduction of Rey. With both, he has cracked open a brave new path for this franchise that I'm sure you'll see plenty of speculation pieces about in the coming weeks.