“Star Wars” fans have been counting down the days to the release of Episode VIII since, well… since about this time two years ago, when “The Force Awakens” stirred the desire for more from this iconic good-versus-evil saga that began captivating audiences 40 years ago.
And equally as iconic is that patented 10-word preface that once again kicks off this story. You know how it goes:
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
BOOM! Insert that theme (if this doesn’t give you goosebumps, you might be dead) from John Williams here, accompanied by the opening text crawl that sets up what we’re about to see in this current chapter, “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.”
I promised not to reveal anything that isn’t obvious from the trailer, so among the words you’ll see are “First Order,” “Resistance,” “Skywalker,” “Snoke,” “Leia.”
And “The Last Jedi” indeed features all of that – and more.
Bad-ass Rey (Daisy Ridley) is back, searching for answers of her own; last time we saw Rey in Episode VII she was on an island, face-to-face with Luke Skywalker.
First Order deserter Finn (John Boyega) continues his earnest determination to help take down his former coalition – aaaand try to impress Rey; X-Wing pilot extraordinaire Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) gets a lot more screen time, and his droid buddy BB-8 isn’t the only source of adorableness this time around.
We also see a little bit more of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), one ugly dude who really could use a visit to the orthodontist and a day at the spa; and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), who oozes power in some instances and looks ready to sh*t his pants in others.
And we learn more about Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), with his “raw, untamed power” and bloodline potential.
He’s also the man behind the tantrums – or “mantrums” (heh) if you will, having displayed some serious anger management issues in the previous flick. Remember? We see a bit more of his erratic behavior here, as well as exploration of the conflict likely causing it.
Depending on your galactic affiliation, you’ll either root for or relentlessly boo him.
The humor here might surprise you; it’s not all the typical light-hearted comments and sarcasm we’ve come to expect from these flicks. Flashbacks give some unexpected insight. Your senses will again be on high alert, thanks to the almost-constant score that serves as a heartbeat for the film.
There are a few moments of complete silence that immediately caught my attention – but that’s deliberate.
“The Last Jedi” tackles a lot in its 152-minute run time (yeah, it’s long!), so you may even want to see it again. I know I will. Nevertheless, it’s loads of fun and entertaining as hell. You’ll cheer; you’ll laugh; you might even cry.
There are epic battles, with grand and fiery explosions during which director Rian Johnson makes sure we experience the effects by way of jostled visuals; there’s both mention of and use of the Force – by a few different characters; there’s deceit and ugly truths; there is, of course, the central tug-of-war between the dark side and the light.
And there are answers to questions from “The Force Awakens” as well as questions to (hopefully) be answered in 2019, when Episode IX – no subtitle yet – is slated for released.
But until then, soak in and enjoy everything “The Last Jedi” has to offer in this longstanding and epic space adventure.
And “May the Force be with you.”