Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits cinemas on Thursday, and Yahoo Movies UK was in the audience for the first UK screening.
The review embargo has now officially lifted so, without spoilers, here are the 8 most exciting things you need to know about Star Wars 8.
1: The Last Jedi is unlike any other Star Wars movie that’s come before
There’s no denying Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a galactic smash hit, bringing the much-loved sci-fi franchise into the 21st century with a bang. For many though, there lingered doubts about it feeling a little derivative of 1977 original that kicked the series off.
The same can’t be said of The Last Jedi. Although there are echoes of The Empire Strikes Back – the Resistance on the run from the First Order, Jedi training scenes, a visit to a shiny new world – Rian Johnson’s film feels like something completely different. Where TFA played it safe and gave fans something familiar and reassuring, Rian Johnson takes TLJ into new territories, themes, and storytelling motifs that we’ve never seen in the galaxy far, far away before, making it feel fresh, new, and exciting all over again.
2: Luke and Leia are amazing
Unlike The Force Awakens, which reduced the Skywalker twins to supporting cameos, The Last Jedi doesn’t skimp on the Leia and Luke’s screen time and both Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher prove that they have never really stopped being our favourite space siblings.
Yes, they’re older and a greyer, but the fire and fight is still in the Skywalkers, and they crucial roles to play in the unfolding battle between the Resistance and the First Order.
3: The porgs are not completely awful
The pre-release hate for the porgs seems totally unfounded as they offer some brilliantly timed comedic relief and joy throughout the film. Some cynics may eye roll at their presence but for most the little furry bird-like animals brought a smile to their faces every time they popped up on screen.
Granted they don’t offer much more that comic relief, but where JJ Abrams cut to BB-8 to break the tension, Johnson opts for the porgs, and they got a laugh every time their little adorable faces popped up. We bet they return for Episode 9.
4: The space battles are superb
After Rogue One‘s Battle of Scarif raised the bar for Star Wars space battles (who could forget the air-punching Hammerhead Corvette manoeuvre?), The Last Jedi had a lot to live up to. Luckily The Last Jedi delivers in spades. It’s as if Rian Johnson saw Rogue One and deliberately set out to give us space battles on a scale previously unseen in the franchise.
Yes, Revenge of the Sith‘s opening battle is one for the ages, but TLJ takes the familiar WW2 dog-fighting tropes employed by George Lucas in the original trilogy and ramps them up to eleven, and the results are breathtaking.
5: It’s really, really funny
For people thinking the jokes would have died along with Han Solo, then you were wrong. They are alive, well and thrown in where you’d least expect it. Everyone gets a go at providing the laughs, from Luke to General Hux to Poe Dameron, it doesn’t matter how good or evil a character is when it comes to Rian Johnson’s distribution of wit.
Even the usually po-faced Luke Skywalker gets a few laugh out loud moments during the unexpectedly goofy Ahch-To scenes. And wait until you hear Snoke’s “mother in law” routine*.
6: There are many surprises
Think you know all there is to know about The Last Jedi? Think again. In an era where trailers have a tendency to spoon feed plot points and spoilers to the point they could be used as IMDB plot synopses, Disney have given very little away this time around.
Rian Johnson’s script subverts nearly every expectation you may have about The Last Jedi. Like Luke Skywalker says to Rey in one of the few revealing trailer moments: “this isn’t going to go the way you think” and it doesn’t. Every character old and new gets something meaty to do, aside from perhaps R2-D2 who is strangely sidelined once again in favour of BB-8. We even learn new things about the Force that we didn’t expect to find out.
7: Crait is one of the all-time great Star Wars planets
The salt-encrusted planet plays host to a huge set piece in The Last Jedi giving the sequence an incredibly eye-catching and iconic look unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Beneath the layer of pure white salt that covers the surface of the planet lies blood red soil that seeps through the surface under every footprint. The rudders of the Resistance’s Ski Speeders tear up the red soil as they skim the surface throwing up plumes of crimson dirt into the air. It’s a magnificent sight.
The silver fox-like Vultpices – or “crystal critters” as someone hilariously dubs them – also play a crucial part in the sequence making them a welcome addition to Star Wars‘ growing menagerie of creatures.
8: Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is a force to be reckoned with
Star Wars has a great track record with villains, with even the much-maligned prequels giving us some of the best screen baddies of all time (we love you Darth Maul!), but Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is operating on another level entirely.
Combining Darth Vader’s inscrutable brooding menace with Palpatine’s unquenchable thirst for power, along with a killer backstory laden with franchise-spanning pathos Kylo Ren is one of the best screen villains ever. Adam Driver delivers the performance of a lifetime as the erstwhile Ben Solo in The Last Jedi.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi blasts into UK cinemas, Thursday 14 December. Watch a new featurette below.