Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens December 15

John Boyega portrays Finn in Star Wars The Last Jedi

John Boyega portrays Finn in Star Wars The Last Jedi.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (also known as Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi) is the new epic space opera film written and directed by Rian Johnson, the second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In it, the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past. Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

The 152 minute long film, longest in the series, was produced by Ram Bergman and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. It was announced after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in October 2012. John Williams, composer for the previous seven Star Wars films, returned to compose the score. The Last Jedi had its world premiere in Los Angeles on December 9, 2017, and will be released everywhere else in the US on December 15, 2017 in 2D, 3D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D. A sequel, tentatively titled Star Wars: Episode IX, is scheduled for a December 20, 2019 release.

Actors and their roles in the film include Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, a powerful Jedi Master who has been in self-imposed exile on the planet Ahch-To. He is the son of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. Carrie Fisher returns as General Leia Organa,

twin sister to Luke, former princess of Alderaan, and a leading general in the Resistance. The Last Jedi was the final film that Fisher worked on. She died on December 27, 2016, after completing her work on the film. Adam Driver returns as Kylo Ren, Supreme Leader Snoke’s loyal servant who is strong with the dark side of the Force and leader to the Knights of Ren. He was born Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, nephew of Luke Skywalker, and the grandson of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. Daisy Ridley returns as Rey, a highly Force-sensitive scavenger from the desert planet Jakku who joined the Resistance and goes to find Luke Skywalker.

John Boyega returns as Finn, a former stormtrooper of the First Order who defected to the Resistance; Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, an X-wing fighter pilot in the Resistance; Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke, the mysterious leader of the First Order and Kylo Ren’s master; Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, a pirate and longtime friend of Han Solo and Chewbacca; Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, the former head of the First Order’s Starkiller Base; Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, a humanoid protocol droid in the service of Leia Organa; and Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, the commander of the First Order’s stormtroopers.

New for this film are Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, a member of the Resistance who works in maintenance; Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, an officer in the Resistance; and Benicio del Toro as an unnamed character, referred to by writer and director Rian Johnson as “DJ”, who is an underworld slicer. Del Toro likens his character to that of a knife, saying “if you grab him by the blade, he’ll cut you. If you grab him by the handle, he can be very, very useful.”

Other cast members include Peter Mayhew and Joonas Suotamo, both returning to portray Chewbacca, Mike Quinn as Nien Nunb, Timothy D. Rose as Admiral Ackbar, Billie Lourd as Lieutenant Connix, and Simon Pegg as Unkar Plutt, all of whom reprised their roles, with Jimmy Vee as R2-D2. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Tom Hardy have cameo appearances as stormtroopers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a voice cameo in the film, and Veronica Ngo portrays Paige Tico, a Resistance gunner and Rose’s sister; Justin Theroux portrays a slicer, an individual who specializes in breaking encryption.

Observations on Star Wars – The Last Jedi

by Lucas Leverett
Fans are finally getting their 2017 Christmas wish: Star Wars – The Last Jedi (Episode VIII in the “Skywalker saga”) is landing in sold-out cinemas from coast to coast, and the overall buzz is positive. After two years of anticipation concerning the mysteries left open after The Force Awakens, and with a new writer-director at the helm, this film is soaring through hyperspace and sure to delight audiences. There are many praiseworthy attributes, and even a handful of stumbles, but overall, this film easily deserves a 4-star level of reception.

We open with a pace that’s a bit choppy and manic. While there is a lot of ground covered, as a necessary step to setting up the second act, it seems rushed. This pace is likely to go unnoticed by younger, Millennial audiences, but for anyone else, it may feel scant and shallow – at first. Overall, this doesn’t detract from the story and overall likability of the film.

The adventure unfurls in several locations, spread around the galaxy. If you’re a fan who has been asking to see more of the Star Wars universe on the big screen with more creatures, places, and tech – you’re in luck. There is almost too much of a buffet being offered at the Last Jedi table, but it is probably just about right, once you digest.

Episode VIII is loaded with cool ships and tech, still presented in an appropriate guise of believability. To accompany this, and sometimes as a direct effect of it, there are remarkably striking visuals to be enjoyed. From a pivotal moment in a major space battle to the visually striking setting of Crait – a red and white planet consisting of minerals and salt, inhabited by fox-like creatures with crystals for fur, called Vulptexes – the eye-candy is on point. All of this is set, per tradition, against John Williams’ ionic score and themes – including the return of a some favorite tunes previously not yet reprised in this latest trilogy.

Character depth seems a bit inconsistent within The Last Jedi, despite all its strengths. For the old characters, there seems to be an expectation of weightiness that younger viewers may not connect with. For the newer characters, it is almost as if audiences are expected to have developed their own deeper understanding and connection with them, between the last installment and this. None of these are crippling, but worthy of note when blended with the aforementioned pacing.

Possibly the most controversial subject which will dominate the post-movie geek-banter among fans will be the answers to some of the mysteries surrounding certain characters’ lineages. While those won’t be revealed here, the answers presented and not presented in the film are sure to be the subject of contention.

The Last Jedi is a satisfying installment in the long-running Skywalker saga, and a nice introduction to Rian Johnson’s Star Wars style. Honor is given to venerable franchise icons, ascension given to the new heroes and villains, and a bold and vivid expanse of size and scope is given to their galactic stage. As box office numbers will confirm by the time the last screen on Sunday night goes dark, this will be hailed as a welcome chapter among our favorite tales from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.