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What to expect from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

To signify May the fourth, Star Wars Day, Harry Westergaard of WSS paper shares his predictions and anticipations for the next film in the famed sci-fi franchise.

Harry Westergaard, Film Critic/Reporter

May the fourth signifies “Star Wars” day. This is quite a special May the fourth too, as it’s also the fortieth anniversary of the franchise to rule all franchises. Just think though, forty years ago, when the fourth day of this month rolled around, “Star Wars” had scarcely any publicity. It was still months to come out and seen as a major gamble on the part of Twentieth Century Fox… but George Lucas did “American Graffiti,” beforehand. Maybe he has more tricks up his sleeve, more than they could’ve ever expected. Now, the announcement of an upcoming Star Wars film has caused the whole world to gasp in excitement and anticipation. Yet, for how far everything has come, we barely know as much about the next film as the world did about the original at this time in ‘77. However, I’m a resourceful nerd, who’s not afraid to dig a little. So thanks in part to my mild efforts, here’s a quick little guide of what we know about “Star Wars The Last Jedi,” and what to expect from it.

For starters, Rian Johnson is set to be the director. Known for his nonlinear indie thrillers “Brick” and “Looper.” You might not think of such a director for Star Wars, but he might be just what the series needs. If there was any complaint from fans about “The Force Awakens,” released in Dec. 2015, it was the lack of originality. Personally, I found that it stuck a near perfect balance. It wasn’t a total retread but featured many homages and similarities. Which is a good quality to have for a reinintroudciton. Borrowing too many elements in the second film and retreading “The Empire Strikes Back” would be totally insulting. The plot reputation and heavy usage of dramatic irony are Abrams’ trademarks. By using fresh talent like Johnson, we can hope for some new twists and turns in the story.

Little is known of the plot itself at this point. As with “The Force Awakens,” Disney is holding their cards almost irritatingly close. All we know thus far is that Rey will begin the training that was alluded to at the end of the previous film. This worries me somewhat, because it could lead to a poor rehash of the Luke/Yoda training in “Empire.” However, if done right, it would be interesting to see how Luke has evolved as a character and taken the place of the learned mentor originally inhabited by Obi-Wan and Yoda. My hope is just that they have original turns to add to this to differentiate it from the 1980 original. We’ve already been given a hint of what a possible twist could be in the trailer. Luke himself hints that perhaps it’s time for the Jedi to permanently close up shop This doesn’t only give precedence to the title (which wasn’t really cryptic to begin with). But it also hints that the only way to end the dark side of the force may be to end both sides.

The film has a very intriguing cast: the regulars signed on of course, but the cast list also lists many stars who are newcomers to the universe. Benicio Del Toro, for example, who has tried before to get a spot in the Star Wars galaxy is signed on for an unidentified villain. Del Toro was previously considered for Darth Maul, so the rumor is that he’s playing a relation of some kind to Maul. Other interesting names attached include Laura Dern, Gareth Edwards (the director of “Rogue One”), Warwick Davis (Wicket in Return of the Jedi) and Tom Hardy is credited as having a Stormtrooper cameo. My biggest takeaway from this list? I really am crossing my fingers for a return of Wicket and the Ewoks.

The film will also feature the last performance in the series of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, due to her unfortunate passing last December. Fischer finished all of her filming for the film beforehand, and the character will still appear in the film. It’s unclear as to whether she will be written out in the void between this film and the next or if new technologies will yield her to make some form of appearance. It could come across as insulting to do something of that kind so soon after her death, so hopefully the studio has sense to just slip a comment in the next script.

This precious collection of facts is the scant information that we currently have on record for Star Wars Episode eight. It’s not much, but it’s just enough to keep all of us fans eagerly waiting and excited. The film may not be groundbreaking, but what I’m hoping for at the very least is a fun ride through a galaxy far, far away with enough new things to keep me invested, while also keeping us in touch with the older elements we all know and love. After all, this is “Star Wars,” with its roots in the serials of the forties has always been about above all.

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What to expect from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”