LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" won warm reviews from most critics on Tuesday, a day before the latest installment in the sci-fi saga begins hitting movie theaters worldwide in what is projected to be the biggest-grossing movie of 2017.
The Walt Disney Co. movie received four or five stars from most reviewers, along with praise for its energy and emotion. "The Last Jedi" scored a 94 percent "fresh" rating on aggregator site RottenTomatoes.com.
The film, arriving in movie theaters from Dec. 13, picks up from 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which took in more than $2 billion at the global box office to become the third-biggest-grossing movie of all time.
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, "The Last Jedi" kicks off with the Resistance fighting Supreme Leader Snoke’s First Order, which is trying to take control of the galaxy.
The movie features the final appearance of Carrie Fisher, who plays the franchise's Princess Leia. The actress died at age 60 last December, weeks after completing filming.
Numerous critics including The Hollywood Reporter felt that at 2-1/2 hours, the movie's run time was a little too long. But the Hollywood Reporter added, "there's a pervasive freshness and enthusiasm to Johnson's approach that keeps the film, and with it the franchise, alive, and that is no doubt what matters most."
The London Times newspaper deemed it the best "Star Wars" movie yet, calling it a "film of wit and wonder, of eye-gouging visual spectacle, and one that is buttressed by entirely unexpected, and frequently devastating, emotional power."
Entertainment Weekly said "The Last Jedi" was a "triumph with flaws," while USA Today said it was "a stellar entry" in the "Star Wars" franchise.
The Washington Post praised the film's "irreverent humor and worshipful love for the original text."
Variety was among a handful of less enthusiastic reviews, calling the film "ultimately a disappointment." CNN said "Last Jedi" felt "like a significant letdown, one that does far less than its predecessor to stoke enthusiasm for the next leg in the trilogy."
Before the reviews were out, Boxoffice.com projected that "Last Jedi" would haul in $185 million to $215 million in North America in its first weekend, which would rank as one of the biggest film debuts in history.
Disney said in November that Johnson will oversee a new trilogy of "Star Wars" films that will not follow the Skywalker saga, which George Lucas kicked off in 1977.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by David Gregorio)