Cert 12A 152mins Stars 5
Go lightspeed to the cinema for this sensational sci-fi action adventure which explodes with laser powered popcorn entertainment.
Episode VIII of the long running series is a supernova of shocks, action, comedy and big budget special effects, and will please even the most demanding hardcore fans of the series.
It begins with a spectacular space battle, the first of several thrilling and dazzling set-pieces.
Though it’s great to reunite with the cast of 2015’s The Force Awakens, it’s the longer serving actors and the newest additions such as young Kelly Marie Tran who make the more lasting impression.
Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac return as Rey, Finn and Poe. They’re cornered by the First Order dictatorship, lead by Adam Driver’s emotionally unstable servant of evil, Kylo Ren. He’s a far more complex and powerful figure than his grandfather, Darth Vader, and his scenes are among the most compelling.
Played by the majestic Carrie Fisher in her last filmed role, General Leia carries herself with dignified authority alongside newcomer Laura Dern as a Vice Admiral. It’s refreshing to have two senior women play key roles in a blockbuster.
Leia has sent Rey to recruit the exiled Luke Skywalker, and Mark Hamill has fun and wears his age well on his return as the Jedi master.
The script delights in wrong- footing us, with many characters conflicted or cagey in their motives we’re never sure which way they will turn. All of this snowballs into an avalanche of doubt in the audience’s mind, making the finale all the more nail-biting.
This is a big improvement on last year’s prequel Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Dark in tone at times and hopeful but never triumphant, it’s close in spirit and very near to the quality of the best Star Wars episode, 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. And thankfully we’re spared another new version of the Death Star.
Oh, and the identity of the last Jedi is revealed but I just can’t say whom. You’ll just have to find out for yourselves.