( CNN ) If anticipations for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” were inordinately( and perhaps unfairly) high, thank “The Force Awakens, ” which had a huge donut fault in the shape of Luke Skywalker at its middle. Yet even with Luke integrated into the story, the cinema is like an important anticlimax, one that does far less than its precede to rekindle enthusiasm for the next leg in the trilogy.

To be fair, writer-director Rian Johnson extradites some genuine startles, and has flecked the movie with its share of pleasant instants, from disbanding feeling to the firstly room clash to callbacks to earlier cinemas — essentially twinkling a signal to ensure opening-night gatherings will have opportunities to roar and bellowing .

“The Last-place Jedi” too computes a number of new references, most of whom appear reasonably expendable except for Rose( Kelly Marie Tran ), a plucky rebel whose vulnerability seems well gauged to connect with the fan basi .

Still, the eagerly awaited advent of Luke( Mark Hamill) — with his promised tutelage of Rey( Daisy Ridley ), and past character in the dark swoop of Kylo Ren( Adam Driver) — doesn’t ignite as anticipated .

While “Force Awakens” did an admirable job of engineering a wand pass by establishing the new casting( the other key members being John Boyega as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe ), “Last Jedi” bogs down in the middle and, the cool areas notwithstanding, doesn’t rally fairly at the finish to offset that .

Granted, “Star Wars” has braved past mortifications — including the clunkier aspects of George Lucas’ second trilogy — without damaging the dealership, and the psychological asset followers have in a property that’s elapsed from parents to their teenagers can’t be overstated .

Like those movies, though, which produced standout times, “The Last-place Jedi” feels like less than the sum of its parts. And where “Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams delicately rectified the table for this sequel, this movie foliages Abrams( who will reprise that character on Episode IX) with his study cut out for him. The flaws also invite second-guessing about Lucasfilm’s pre-release vote of confidence by consecrating Johnson as the force behind a separate trilogy set in that far-away galaxy .

In crass commercial terms , no clairvoyance is necessary to predict that “The Last Jedi” will be a huge reached , softening any review. Yet if “The Empire Strikes Back” countenances as the defining assembly in the “Star Wars” adventure, as second movies become, “Last Jedi” ranks closer to the “Attack of the Clones” end of the gene fund .

Carrie Fisher’s death last year serves as a somber note to the movie, and beyond her warming proximity, there’s a lovely dedication to her in the closing recognitions .

What predates that overall, alas, represents a creative step back , not a leap forward. Optimistically, “The Last-place Jedi” leaves batch of intriguing possibilities for the climactic installment. But there’s also the various kinds of room for improvement that remind us when it comes to “Star Wars, ” such hopes — new or otherwise — spring everlasting .

“Star Wars: The Last-place Jedi” debuts Dec. 15 in the U.S. It’s rated PG-1 3.

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