Movie review - Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Can a 40-year-old movie franchise about the struggle between good and evil still surprise you? Yes, it can.
I am not just talking about the introduction of new merchandisable furries (yes, the Puss in-Boots-like Porgs are cute) or the choreography of some of the entire series' most visually arresting lightsaber battles.
While The Force Awakens took some flak for being, note-for-note, a 2015 remake of A New Hope, this instalment is no mere fan-pleasing update to The Empire Strikes Back.
The light-versus-dark dichotomy is taken in a new direction with Rey and Kylo Ren, and the push and pull between them is my favourite thing in a movie full of things to enjoy. It plays out like a seduction, and the palpable chemistry between the pair makes it all work. (And no, this is not a spoiler.)
While there are solid doses of straight-up comedy, the movie has a lot of heart. You feel for characters, even minor ones, who perish in battle.
You feel for Rose, played by the wonderful Vietnamese-American actress Tran, as she throws herself into the fray after a personal loss and falls for another character.
Mostly, you feel for Kylo Ren and his internal dark-versus-light struggle, played by a wonderfully, believably tortured Driver.
It is also wonderful to see Hamill fully inhabit the role that made his name, and turn it inside out.
It is not just a new episode - this instalment marks a whole new chapter for the series.
"Let the past die," says Kylo Ren at one point. "Kill it, if you have to. That is the only way to become what you are meant to be."
Writer and director Johnson has not remade the entire wheel but The Last Jedi - not just a good Star Wars movie, but a good movie, as one colleague has pointed out - confidently takes the series beyond nostalgia and into a future that looks very, very promising.
MOVIE: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
STARRING: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Domhnall Gleeson
DIRECTOR: Rian Johnson
THE SKINNY: The Resistance, helmed by General Leia Organa (Fisher) is pursued by the First Order, with Kylo Ren (Driver) and General Hux (Gleeson) in a decision-making tug-of-war. Meanwhile, Rey (Ridley) pursues Luke Skywalker (Hamill) for Jedi training.