Don’t worry Star Wars junkies. You’ll love The Last Jedi. Problem is, I’m not a Star Wars junkie – I’m just a casual fan – so (gasp!), I wasn’t as blown away by “Episode VIII” as the somewhat Comic-Con-obsessed crowd that I saw it with. Not that I didn’t enjoy most of my two-and-a-half hour visit to a galaxy far, far away. I just happened to like 2015’s nostalgia-fueled The Force Awakens a bit more. The Last Jedi picks up right where that one left off. The franchise’s young new heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds herself on a distant planet, face to face with the elusive Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). She’s there to return his light saber, get some Jedi training, and convince him to rejoin the Resistance led by his sister, Princess/General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher). You know the rest. I’m just kidding. You don’t, unless you’ve seen the film or read the spoilers. I’m not enough of an expert to know what constitutes a spoiler, so I’ll just err on the side of caution and keep it brief.

In addition to Ridley, Hamill and Fisher, the film stars: Adam Driver as Dark Side protégé Kylo Ren (remember, he killed his dad Han Solo and is estranged from his mom Leia); John Boyega as resistance fighter Finn; Oscar Isaac as cocky pilot Poe Dameron, and a slew of others including Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro.

The film opens as they all do – with a scrolling recap of what’s going on with the Resistance fight against the powerful First Order, the iconic Star Wars logo, and the John Williams theme music… setting off a wave of giddiness and anticipation across the theater. What follows is a satisfying array of light-saber combat scenes, dogfights in the sky, grunts and nods from Chewbacca, and the obligatory march of the stormtroopers. There’s drama, tension, humor, plenty of plot twists, and the obligatory themes of light, darkness, good, evil and the importance of keeping hope alive.

The Last Jedi serves as a fitting farewell to Carrie Fisher. It’s hard to watch her scenes without feeling a twinge of sadness and sentimentality. But the franchise must go on! The saga that George Lucas created more than thirty years ago seems to have a life force that will surely survive us all. The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson, is the second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy (not to be confused with the prequels and spin-offs). J.J. Abrams will take the helm for the conclusion of the trilogy, Star Wars: Episode IX, blasting into theaters in 2019. See you then.

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