Believe it or not, but we're now standing at a point in cinematic history in which the last Skywalker-based Star Wars trilogy is two-thirds complete.
That's because Star Wars: The Last Jedi has finally exploded into theatres across the globe, which means the world has gone into a feeding frenzy. Audiences are - rather appropriately - praising, lambasting, and dissecting each and every second of Rian Johnson's surprising new episode. Well, what else did you expect?
One of the big questions that surrounded the release of The Last Jedi centred on whether it would be able to live up to the brilliant episode that preceded it. And whilst The Force Awakens, directed by J.J. Abrams, was met with overwhelming praise upon its initial release, it soon found itself fighting a backlash as the months went on. Oddly, the backlash against The Last Jedi seems to have come about even sooner.
Now that both films exist and can be viewed side-by-side, it seems like a good time to pit them against one another in an attempt to find out which episode in the third Skywalker saga is best. It's a comparison made more interesting, perhaps, given that both films currently share an identical Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%.
Both J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson are arguably better directors than they are writers, and the directorial technique on display in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi is certified proof of that. In a bid to bring their individual styles to their respective films, these two also manage to keep in line with the established cinematic grammar of previous Star Wars movies.
Abrams shoots for a very classical directional style in Episode VII; we are always able to understand what's happening and there's a clear sense of space, though some could claim his direction is too "workmanlike."
Johnson, on the other hand, offers up a Star Wars film that retains a respect for the look of previous films in the canon, but somehow feels new and artistic and unlike anything that has come before, which many might consider refreshing.
Winner: Rian Johnson's direction is riskier, though he doesn't quite hold it together for the length of the film. Sometimes it's not clear what's happening. Abrams, on the other hand, directs with awe-inspiring Spielbergian strides, maintaining an assured confidence from start to finish. The Force Awakens just wins the round.