Star Wars: The Last Jedi is seductive and stylish
Can a 40-year-old movie franchise about the struggle between good and evil still surprise you?
Yes, it can.
I'm 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.
Writer and director Rian Johnson will surprise you with new story possibilities, new emotions, new visuals to feast your eyes on.
The Last Jedi opens with the Resistance, helmed by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), being pursued by the First Order, with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) in a decision-making tug-of-war.
Meanwhile, in the most obvious mirroring of Episode V, Rey (Daisy Ridley) pursues Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) for Jedi training. The islet Luke has chosen for self-exile on the planet Ahch-To is a great trade-up from Empire's weird swamp.
Ridley really comes into her own as Rey in this one. Her significance in The Force Awakens was at times overshadowed by the million different things going on, but in The Last Jedi she is a, if not the, force to be reckoned with, and Ridley is more than up to the emotional heft required for this role.
The light versus dark dichotomy is taken into a new direction with Rey and Kylo Ren.
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.)
Most - not all - of the supporting actors are given their due.
Gleeson plays Hux as a great caricature of Evil Generals, complete with puffed up chest and Grand Threats. He plays Hux much like Alan Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, serving us some of the best laughs of the show.
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 Kelly Marie 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.
And then, there's Luke.
How does one even begin to describe how wonderful it is to see Hamill fully inhabit the role that made his name, and turn it inside out?
So much of this movie is unexpected, with none of the twists feeling like cheap red herrings.
It's 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's the only way to become what you are meant to be."
Johnson hasn't remade the entire wheel but this movie - 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.
Can't wait for the next one.