From a money-making standpoint, it made nothing but sense for Disney to buy Lucasfilm in 2012 — even with that whopping $4 billion price tag, the company stood only to gain from acquiring all that sweet, sweet intellectual property. From a creative point of view, however, the move was far more problematic: although the Star Wars franchise
has legions of fans around the globe, they’re also deeply protective of the property, as George Lucas
himself discovered when he underperformed with the prequels. In embarking on a new trilogy, the studio stood poised to produce some of the most colossally anticipated sequels of all time — and had to take responsibility for satisfying decades of nostalgia while somehow moving a beloved story in new directions. It obviously remains to be seen whether they’ll stick the landing, but two episodes in, this extension of the saga is holding up pretty well — in fact, the eighth installment, this weekend’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi
, ranks among the most widely acclaimed entries in the franchise. Critics say Jedi
continues building out the younger characters in the cast while honoring veteran stars — particularly Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher — with rich material, and balancing killer set pieces and humor against a deep well of emotion. The pressure’s now on J.J. Abrams to bring this trilogy to a satisfying conclusion in two years
; in the meantime, fans can enjoy a middle chapter that stands proudly among the best Star Wars
has to offer.