After months (OK, maybe years) of anticipation, the next installment in the most iconic franchise in film history, The Last Jedi, hit theaters on Thursday. Finn met Rose, Poe met Vice Admiral Holdo, and Rey met Luke Skywalker (and also a shirtless Kylo Ren). There’s way too much to talk about, so let’s stop wasting time—here’s what The Ringer staff thought about The Last Jedi. (Obviously, there are spoilers below, so be careful.)
1. What is your tweet-length review of The Last Jedi?
Paolo Uggetti: Did I mind that this movie could have been 140 characters long, but instead chose to use up the full 280? Not at all.
Miles Surrey: I wore earplugs to the theater as a spoiler precaution, had indigestion from pre–Last Jedi fried calamari, and intentionally dehydrated myself so I wouldn’t have to pee in the middle of this very long movie. It was all worth it.
Sean Yoo: Pump that third act into my veins and let it be my lifeblood.
Sean Fennessey: The purpose of movies is not to pledge allegiance to dogma or resolve unmanaged nostalgia. The purpose is to thrill, challenge, and reanimate the way we think. By that definition, The Last Jedi is more than worthy.
Alison Herman: An uneven tonal Frankenstein with a relationship at its core that’s rich and novel enough to offset the bad. Kylo and Rey are perfect foils; their scenes make the movie.
Donnie Kwak: I wanted to like this movie but it was just too damn long. By the end it felt like punishment.
Ben Lindbergh: “Tweet-length” has doubled since we started doing these things, but even 280 characters aren’t enough to encapsulate all of my thoughts on the longest Star Wars movie. The divisive response that The Last Jedi inspires among Star Wars fans reflects the welcome (to me) ways in which it pushes the franchise forward. More than any other installment in the series, this one is narratively rich and ripe for future reappraisals.
Shaker Samman: Rian Johnson is the best director to ever helm an installment in the franchise. The highs were really damn high. A worthy entry to the canon.
Zach Kram: It’s as ambitious as Poe Dameron and uneven because of it, but the best parts were transcendent. The Last Jedi accomplished a few tricks I had never seen in a movie before.
Michael Baumann: Great. It was a little too long, but it was riveting throughout and beautiful to look at, and it felt much more purposeful than The Force Awakens.
2. What was the best moment of the movie?
Danny Heifetz: When R2-D2 played the original message from Leia, I cried. It was a conversation between two old friends reminding each other of how far they’ve come—and how far the audience has come, too.
Kwak: Snoke’s bodyguards—a.k.a. “Supreme Gang”—were too cool. I was also into Laura Dern’s purple hair; Cardi B should be Holdo next Halloween. The automated ironing was funny, too, as well as Poe sonning General Hux. The intermittent humor kept my attention where the overcooked set pieces didn’t.
Surrey: There’s probably a dozen correct answers, but the fact Luke’s big introduction—after a two-year cliffhanger—is him throwing his lightsaber off a cliff is iconic.
Gruttadaro: All of the mind-bridge scenes between Rey and Kylo Ren were so well done—sometimes chilling, sometimes heart-wrenching, and sometimes even funny. The hard cut to Kylo Ren shirtless was perfect.
Yoo: The Snoke throne room scene was an absolute thrill ride, from the sharp visuals to the red samurai knights to the Kylo-Rey lightsaber explosion. That entire scene was jam-packed with pure adrenaline.
Uggetti: It’s hard to beat the opening battle (and any) interaction between Poe and BB-8, but the throne room battle was perfect, and the capper—Rey tossing Kylo Ren the lightsaber to impale the red knight in the face—was a smooth and surprising ending to a battle that could have ended in myriad other cliché ways.
Samman: Rey and Kylo fighting back to back against the red samurai guards—that entire sequence was phenomenal. The balance between their raw power and grace was exciting.
Herman: “Join me … please” deserves to go down as a classic Star Wars line. Adam Driver makes Kylo’s loneliness both pathetic and devastating, and the tragedy of two isolated people coming so close to making a connection they both desperately need helps the moment land—no romantic or familial bond necessary.
Fennessey: Rey and Kylo Ren’s will-they-or-won’t-they exchange after they’ve felled the red guards in Snoke’s throne room. It’s nice to have an intergalactic Sam and Diane.
Kram: Is “every Rey-Ren interaction” too broad to count? From their interstellar Skype chats to the entire scene in the throne room, everything about their dynamic crackled with excitement and gushed with empathy. It’s the best relationship ever depicted in a Star Wars film, and second place isn’t close.
Lindbergh: Purple-haired Vice Admiral Holdo’s hyperspeed sacrifice was surprisingly affecting, given that we hadn’t met her until this movie. Although that’s largely a testament to Laura Dern’s gravitas, the shot of the First Order’s flying wing-shaped flagship Supremacy silently breaking apart after the Resistance’s Raddus sliced through it was one of the movie’s most breathtaking moments, the byproduct of having a skilled stylist like Johnson at the helm of a series that could have easily ended up with a more workmanlike, Marvelesque look.
Baumann: Vice Admiral Holdo’s fleet-destroying hyperspace jump. There’s nothing in the visual vocabulary of the eight previous Star Wars movies that’s remotely like that—you spend 40 years setting up a signature look so that when you break it, it’s as effective and world-tilting as that moment was.
3. What was your least favorite part of the film?
Yoo: Space Mary Poppins.
Gruttadaro: That Kylo didn’t keep the mask for just a little bit longer, because his voice was really sounding like the end of “Runaway” and I was into it.
Baumann: I thought Ghost Luke’s intervention in the movie’s last battle poured it on a little thick.
Uggetti: Rey’s I, Robot clone dream.
Fennessey: I think Casino Planet could have been avoided entirely, thus removing about 20 minutes of runtime.
Herman: The runtime? There’s a lot of unnecessary plot in this movie, probably born of a Disney-imposed requirement that Star Wars must be all things to all people. Internal contrast is the bread and butter of this franchise, which places sci-fi war stories alongside Buddhist-adjacent space monks. Even by those standards, however, certain elements here felt grafted-on or disjointed: cutesy animals for toys; cutesy kids for sequel protagonists; Marvelesque one-liners for levity in what’s objectively the saga’s darkest chapter to date. And while I loved the overt populism of the casino plot line, that entire detour felt like one complication too many.
Kram: The payoff to the Laura Dern subplot is tremendous, but the buildup—in which her character hides plans from Poe and he leads a mutiny—isn’t. In a movie already full of surprising twists and real stakes, there was no need for this extra bit of manufactured tension, and Dern’s sacrifice would have worked just as well without it.
Kwak: Leia floating through space. C’mon, son.
Lindbergh: The Canto Bight detour was mostly a mess. Admiral Ackbar’s death deserved more fanfare, and Captain Phasma was still lame. But I’m the guy who was hyped for the soundtrack heading into the movie, and if anything, The Last Jedi’s score was even more reliant on references to past movies and devoid of new and noteworthy themes. Maybe I’m the only one who’s still expecting enough from octogenarian John Williams to feel let down when he doesn’t deliver at the level he used to, but as exciting as The Last Jedi’s throne-room fight was, it would have been twice as adrenaline-inducing with a track to rival “Duel of the Fates,” “Battle of the Heroes,” or my favorite snippet of Star Wars music ever: the 40 seconds or so that accompanies the end of the last Luke-Vader duel.
Samman: Leia flying through space was a case of “right idea, poor execution.” It’s cool that we got to see her use the Force; I just wish it hadn’t been as cartoonish as it was. Also, the casino scene, while a beautiful critique of unregulated capitalism, was kind of unnecessary.
Surrey: There’s only one correct answer: Chewie killed and roasted a porg. I don’t care if he didn’t eat it on-screen, Chewie went to the dark side.
4. Who won The Last Jedi?
Fennessey: Kylo Ren, and it ain’t close.
Yoo: Rey joins the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and LeBron James as back-to-back MVP winners. Can she make it a three-peat once Episode IX comes along?
Gruttadaro: I will go to the ends of the earth for Kylo Ren. He may be my favorite villain in any movie ever.
Kram: Kylo Ren. He’s not just the most complex, interesting villain in any ongoing cinematic universe; he’s the most complex, interesting character, period. A subtle bit of Johnson’s directorial genius in this film is removing Ren’s mask and putting Adam Driver’s emotive, scarred—both literally and emotionally—face on full display.
Herman: Sometimes I forget why, amid a minor talent crisis in this generation of American actors, Adam Driver has worked with seemingly every director under the sun (Scorsese! Jarmusch! Soderbergh!) in such a short amount of time. Then I watch a Star War.
Baumann: Rey. She didn’t turn Kylo Ren like she planned or get much training from Luke, but she grew up and developed her own sense of direction, which sets her up for the next film.
Samman: It has to be Kylo, right? Kill your domineering master, vanquish nearly every one of your foes, and rise to Supreme Leader? Hell of a week for Ben Solo.
Kwak: In the movie it’s a tie between Rey, Luke, and Kylo Ren, but my overall vote goes to movie theaters—huge boon for them.
Lindbergh: Luke. Under the graying goatee, this was the same Skywalker we once knew: heroic, impulsive, and petulant. But Mark Hamill’s acting has improved with age, and for the first time in his history as the iconic character, Hamill also got to be funny, from his unexpected lightsaber toss in the movie’s opening moments to his shoulder-brush on Crait.
Surrey: Johnson, for putting his stamp on this franchise with original ideas about the Force, legacy, and how a Star Wars film can look. This was clearly his movie, and the complete lack of behind-the-scenes drama—which is Lucasfilms’ new normal—speaks volumes.
Uggetti: Luke Skywalker for going out like Kobe in his final game. Shooters shoot, Jedi levitate—or something like that.
Heifetz: Me. I cried six times and left a changed person.
5. Rian Johnson is making own Star Wars trilogy; after seeing The Last Jedi, how do you feel about him leading the franchise?
Fennessey: If it means he can continue to reshape the philosophies and details of the galaxy, I’m ready.
Lindbergh: I have a good feeling about this.
Herman: I’m sure Broom Kid’s All Grown Up, Vols. I-III will be great.
Gruttadaro: Between the hyperspeed kamikaze shot—a truly stunning moment of modern cinema—and the final showdown on Crait, in which Johnson brilliantly used that red salt for visual nirvana and so that the audience could track the movements of Resistance fighters, I feel confident saying that Johnson is the best to ever direct a Star Wars movie. So … I feel really good about it.
Samman: I would trust Rian Johnson to direct my daily life—I’m just afraid I can’t afford him. Let him do whatever he wants with the new trilogy.
Yoo: Give Rian all the Star Wars! I cannot wait for Star Wars: The Broom Kid—A Rian Johnson Trilogy.
Kram: I’m as excited as Rose was when she first met a hero of the Resistance. The only way to reach those transcendent highs is to take risks.
Kwak: I’m pretty ambivalent about him. Suffice to say I’m more excited for J.J. Abrams to resume the reins for IX.
Baumann: I’m in. The best thing he did was clear the decks and have the new trilogy stand on its own, apart from the original—I’m interested to see what he does with an even freer hand.
6. This sounds harsh, but do you think Finn should have died?
Baumann: Yes. Finn blowing up the big gun could’ve obviated the need for Ghost Luke, and it would’ve allowed at least for the temporary illusion that the incredibly dangerous things our heroes are doing have stakes and consequences.
Herman: Stakes are good things to have.
Fennessey: It was the only logical character choice; his sacrifice would have completed an arc from cowardly Stormtrooper to avenging rebel. It felt like the only betrayal in the movie when Rose saved him.
Surrey: I didn’t think about it at the time, but the lack of important characters dying—no offense to the great Laura Dern, extreme offense to the unmemorable Supreme Leader Snoke—in a darker Star Wars movie was surprising. Plenty of Resistance fighters we didn’t even know perished, but killing someone like Finn, much as it would’ve hurt, would’ve been a much-needed gut punch.
Gruttadaro: Sorry but hell-fucking-yeah he should have.
Samman: Absolutely. I’m pretty upset that he didn’t. It’d have been a perfect hero’s ending, sacrificing himself for the cause.
Uggetti: Yes, it would have been a perfect way to legitimize the stakes, but personally, I don’t mind keeping John Boyega’s exasperated character around for some comedic levity.
Kram: TBD. If Episode IX figures out what to do with him, then no; if Episode IX gives him just another tangential caper, then yes.
Lindbergh: Put it this way: I wasn’t really rooting for Rose to make that last-second save. But it’s not as if this trilogy isn’t already dark, and one Resistance ramming maneuver per movie is probably enough. Plus, if Finn had succeeded in sacrificing himself, Luke’s grand finale wouldn’t have worked. Finn feels extraneous now, but Boyega is a hell of a backup to have on your bench. We might be happy to have him come Episode IX.
Yoo: He should’ve died solely because it seems like no one knows what to do with his story. He should’ve sacrificed himself for the sake of the Resistance and the writers’ room.
Kwak: Sure. Or nah. I have no particular affinity for Finn. I guess I’m happy that his non-death gave Rose Tico a chance to be a hero. I heard she came from the planet of Bushwick.
7. Rey’s parentage was hotly debated following The Force Awakens. Now that the truth has been revealed, how do you feel about it?
Fennessey: Good for Rian Johnson, dispensing with the I am your father moment so many yearned for. Most heroes come from nowhere—that’s their appeal.
Herman: A lot better than I would if Rey were a Skywalker. One of The Last Jedi’s best motifs is the idea that heroes and villains aren’t born, but made: Kylo is pushed over the edge into the dark side by Luke’s weakness, and Rey’s talent and drive have nothing to do with her lineage. That’s a welcome pivot away from the franchise’s previous devotion to choosing its protagonists via dynastic determinism—Anakin was immaculately conceived by the Force, so Luke is … the Force’s grandson?—and toward a more democratic chosen-one myth that complements the good guys’ populism.
If they reverse course on this and make her Luke’s long-lost love child or whatever, I’ll be furious.
Lindbergh: I love the Rey non-reveal reveal. Not only would another episode of Star Wars: Finding Your Roots have been one (if not two) too many for the franchise, but Rey’s story is much more inspiring without the implication that a character can only change the galaxy if she comes from a long line of sky-high midi-chlorian counts. I also love the lack of a backstory for Snoke. I’d be happy to read a book about how he rose to power and developed his great taste in loungewear, but on screen those details would only distract from the real draws.
Kram: We know the parentage of four other Force-users in the Star Wars saga: Anakin, who was the product of immaculate conception, begat Luke and Leia, and Leia begat Kylo Ren. Rey, then, amplifies the relatability of this fictional tale about space wizards, and her rise from anonymity represents a reversal from the midi-chlorian dictates of the prequels.
Gruttadaro: I absolutely love it. While it would’ve been interesting if Rey was somehow related to the Skywalkers, the fact she comes from nothing is so much more compelling, in that it affirms that great power can come from anywhere—not just one singular family in the entire galaxy.
Baumann: I love it. Having Rey be related to someone we knew already would’ve been so predictable—between that and killing Snoke, The Last Jedi eliminated the two least interesting loose ends from The Force Awakens.
Yoo: At first I refused to believe Kylo, hoping that there was more to Rey’s parentage. But now after coming to terms with this reveal I actually really respect the decision. It creates the narrative that anyone from any background can become a Jedi, and that is just the type of hope this bleak world needs.
Uggetti: Fine. I don’t feel like we needed that as an important, ancillary story line.
Samman: I’m torn. I’m glad she isn’t from the Skywalker line, and we can finally break from this “only one family in the galaxy is important” cycle that’s dominated the franchise since the start. However, I think there’s more to Kylo’s explanation. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were nobodies—moisture farmers on a desolate planet—but that wasn’t the whole story. I’d guess there’s another layer to Rey’s origin.
Surrey: I love it, and I hope they stick with it in Episode IX. This franchise was initially built on the premise that anyone—even some farm kid from a shitty sand planet—could be the hero that saves the galaxy before it became a Skywalker melodrama. Rey changes this, the broom kid at the end changes this. Anyone can be a hero!
8. Rey said she saw Kylo Ren’s future—what is his future?
Lindbergh: Always in motion? It’s a credit to Kylo’s character that I genuinely can’t tell where he’ll end up on the lightness-darkness spectrum. Better yet, I’m confident that I could be content with either outcome.
Yoo: His future forecast shows bright skies and a whole lot of redemption.
Fennessey: Dank memes.
Kram: He will fulfill his Force Awakens desire to follow Darth Vader’s path by sacrificing himself in a last-breath discovery of the light side of the Force. He already completed half of Vader’s redemption by killing his dark-side master, after all.
Surrey: He’s gonna make great commission at Hot Topic.
Uggetti: In a few years, Kylo will find his calling as a side guitar man for an alt-rock band that plays a nightly gig at a bar on the newly renovated gambling city of Canto Bight.
Samman: I think Rey saw Kylo killing Snoke. That was his “turn.” As for what I see for our angsty, new Supreme Leader, I’d be shocked if the series didn’t end with him losing a duel against Rey.
Herman: If The Last Jedi affirms anything, it’s agency over destiny. Kylo’s future is what he chooses, and here, he definitively chooses evil. It’s a choice made all the more devastating by those glimpses of what Rey and Kylo have to offer each other in the form of shared understanding literally no one else in the galaxy can give, but it’s made.
Baumann: Hopefully finding more flattering outfits to wear while he’s sending interstellar telepathic sexts.
9. Rank the Star Wars movies.
Kwak: I’ll leave that for some of our Star Wars experts but I will say that I found The Force Awakens twice as compelling as The Last Jedi.
Gruttadaro: From best to worst: The Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, The Last Jedi, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, Revenge of the Sith, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones.
Yoo: The Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, The Last Jedi, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, Return of The Jedi, Revenge of the Sith, Attack of the Clones, The Phantom Menace.
Baumann: The Empire Strikes Back, The Last Jedi, Rogue One, A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, Revenge of the Sith, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones.
Herman: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, A New Hope, Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One, Attack of the Clones, The Phantom Menace.
Samman: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, The Last Jedi, Rogue One, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, Revenge of the Sith, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones.
Kram: The Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, The Last Jedi, The Force Awakens, Return of the Jedi, Rogue One, Revenge of the Sith, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones.
Surrey: The Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, The Last Jedi, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, Revenge of the Sith, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, any other movie, Attack of the Clones.
Lindbergh: Reserving the right to reorder third through sixth place after I see the Disney movies a million more times: The Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, [leaps off Cloud City platform] Return of the Jedi, The Last Jedi, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, [falls down Death Star reactor shaft] Revenge of the Sith, [free falls from Coruscant speeder] The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones.
Fennessey: SHEESH. We’re really doing this, huh? OK: The Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, The Last Jedi, Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, Attack of the Clones, The Phantom Menace.
10. Where does the trilogy go from here?
Samman: To a galaxy far, far away.
Kram: To making another billion dollars in December 2019—an amount to which I will happily contribute.
Fennessey: Apparently, it’s going to be an intergalactic Annie. The Death Star’ll come out, tomorrow ...
Herman: The final scene is a nice expression of theme, but let’s be real for a second: It’s also a very savvy move in terms of expanding this universe. If anyone can be born with the Force, that means anyone can become a Jedi, which means anyone can become a protagonist. The trilogy just gave itself a lot of options for where to go next, to say nothing of the larger franchise.
Kwak: Hopefully far away for a while?
Yoo: With the way TLJ ended, I’m predicting a five- to 10-year time jump, where Rey is training young Jedi while the Resistance gathers more power. Kylo as Supreme Leader attempts to hunt down and destroy this new batch of young Jedi, ending in a massive battle focused around Kylo/Rey and Rey’s quest to bring Ben Solo back to the light.
Lindbergh: It looks like a time jump could be coming, both because it would make Carrie Fisher’s absence easier to explain and because it’s hard to envision the beleaguered Resistance winning in one more movie without a fast-forward or a really convincing recruitment montage. (There aren’t that many Force-sensitive slave kids.)
One way or another, though, the final lap of the trilogy will cement the franchise’s changing of the guard. Han is gone. So, sadly, is Leia. Presumably, Luke will be back as a Force Ghost, and Chewie, R2, and C-3P0 are still in the picture, but Episode IX will be the biggest break yet from the original trilogy, the first film in the sequence that truly relies on the new cast with no nostalgia safety net. I just hope J.J. Abrams doesn’t insist on destroying a second Starkiller Base.
Baumann: I hope there’s a big time jump, maybe 10 years. Not only would that allow them to deal with writing Carrie Fisher out of Episode IX, it’d allow for the Resistance to grow into an actual fighting force from a club small enough to fit around the games table on the Millennium Falcon. If the last battle is just four people with plot armor against a billion Stormtroopers, it’s gonna be a bummer.
Uggetti: As someone who is a latecomer to Star Wars fandom, I’d just like to see more movies like the one I enjoyed this weekend. Compelling, visually stunning, and filled with relatable characters that aren’t afraid to insert some comedy into dramatic, intergalactic warfare.
Surrey: Honestly, there’s a lot of sexual tension going on—Rey and Kylo Ren, Finn and Rose, Kylo Ren and Hux, Poe and Finn, Poe and anyone—that needs to be unleashed. Wait. Is that the Force?