Star Wars: The Last Jedi fills the same basic space in the latest trilogy of chapters that The Empire Strikes Back filled in the original trilogy. In some ways it follows the template of that film, but not all.
The Last Jedi opens with an action flourish before separating the main characters – Rey (Daisy Ridley) is on Ach-To trying to persuade Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to teach her; Finn (John Boyega) and new character Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) are off trying to shut down a new device that allows the First Order to track Rebel Alliance ships through lightspeed, and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is bathing the scorn of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) – for a start.
The idea of separating the main characters before bringing them back together is, loosely, the same as Empire. Other reflections in Empire can be seen in the way a character seeks to learn from a master (Luke and Yoda in Empire), and the need for a scoundrel thief (Lando Calrissian in Empire) – Benicio del Toro’s DJ, here. There’s even a face-off between a Jedi master and a Sith apprentice.
But writer-director Rian Johnson uses these similarities to take the story in different directions – Luke wants nothing to do with Rey, as the best example.
What we also get with The Last Jedi is the set of fresh characters introduced in The Force Awakens in new situations that tell us more about who they are and why they might be the spark of hope that generates revolution.
There are few events I can describe that won’t in some way lead to spoilers, but I can tell you that certain actors (Domhnall Gleason, for one) get to ham it up; certain characters meet under unusual situations; a new character shows a lot of pluck, and there are several action sequences that will astound and amaze.
Also,The Last Jedi also introduces a connection between Rey and Kylo Ren that’s more than a little unsettling.
Plus the coolest Jedi mind trick you will ever see – and the dangers of going to lightspeed through another vessel.
There are some monumental moments in The Last Jedi – even more in character moments than in action set pieces.
People die on both sides – characters we might have thought important. There are cameos by interesting people (Justin Theroux’s appearance seems to be an important part of the plot…), and we finally learn what Porgs are and what they do.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is one of the three best Star Wars films – behind only the original and (wait for it…) The Empire Strikes Back.
Final Grade: A+