Chills. Nostalgia. Awe. Three words I would use to best describe the eight installment in the world’s most famous film franchise. Having had to wait two years since the Force was awakened, LucasFilm and Disney treat the global audience this December to a delight almost thirty years in the making for Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. “This is not going to go the way you think.” Damn, right Luke. It didn’t. The film breaks new ground with the characters, shakes up expectations, explores new ideas and mostly, shows us the wild possibilities of the Force.

We only glimpsed everyone’s favorite Jedi cameo at the end of Episode VII and the eight installment marks a well-deserved return for Hamill who is now the reluctant sensei to Rey, played by Daisy Ridley. The Resistance, spearheaded by Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), faces heavy losses while encountering the First Order, who are out for blood after their staggering defeat in the previous film. The film marks Fisher’s final performance in her iconic role and she is nothing short of amazing; one scene, in particular, made the entire audience cheer as her link to the Force was explored like we’ve never seen before. Despite the absence of Han Solo, the film finds humour and spunk through its new characters, Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) accompanied by BB-8 and newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). While Rey desperately tries to drag the island-hogging Luke back into the fight, these four rebels face the First Order at the battlefront for most of the film. The introduction of Porgs and Fathiers somehow adds the ‘aww’ factor to the film as the furry beasts seem to have souls of their own on screen – I’m pretty sure I want a Porg now.

But this is essentially a master and student story, one that we’ve encountered before in The Empire Strikes Back. Rey and Luke’s relationship mirrors that of Luke and Yoda to a great extent. Self-exiled Jedi master and untamed student, exploration of this combo works well and director Rian Johnson takes it a step further with the inclusion of rogue student Kylo Ren into the dynamic.

Kylo (Adam Driver), now sporting a scar like his late Granddaddy, still finds himself in Vader’s shadow; we learn that Snoke courted him to be the next Dark Lord but so far all he has been is a disappointment. Out to prove himself, Kylo finds his path intertwining with that of Rey as they discover a bond between them through the Force. The best thing about The Last Jedi is easily how deep, dark and complex it gets; never have we seen a Star Wars movie go to this extent to portray their characters as conflicted individuals with flaws. “We are what they grow beyond,” says a character that cameos mid-way into the film (more cheers from the audience!), his words echo throughout the film as the new generation of rebels fight the battle that began forty years ago. It is also evident that the sequel trilogy passes the torch on, and does it fantastically.

By no means is the story flawless, I sometimes found myself confused by certain decisions taken but the film stays true to the Star Wars we knew. While The Force Awakens was basically a rehash of A New Hope, The Last Jedi takes some of the best elements from The Empire Strikes Back and puts a fresh spin on it, creatively taking the freedom to explore uncharted territory. I was especially pleased with how Kylo Ren’s character evolved through the film and although I felt the final showdown between him and Luke could have been longer, it gave rise to quite the twist as we see how much Luke has mastered the Force. Hearing the hum of a lightsaber power-up inside the theatre is enough to bring any Star Wars fanboy to prepare themselves for badassery and badassery is served indeed. The action, both outer space battles and saberfights are well choreographed and shot, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

At the same time, Snoke seemed to be infected with the Marvel villain syndrome – I guess I won’t say much apart from the fact that I expected more from a character who had such a mysterious introduction in TFA. Additionally, John Boyega who was the breakout star of TFA was terribly underused – J.J. Abrams, we are hoping you will change that! The movie leaves several questions unanswered and with two years more to wait for the final installment in this trilogy, we can only speculate as to where it will go next.

The Last Jedi is arguably one of the best Star Wars films yet, enough to please fanboys while delivering something for everyone’s taste.

PS: Carrie Fisher, thank you for being the Leia we deserved. May the Force be with you, Princess.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now playing at EAP theaters (Savoy 3D & Savoy 2) as well as Liberty Cinemas (Screen 1 & Screen 2).

By Akash Sk