|Directed by||:||Rian Johnson||Produced by||:||Kathleen Kennedy, Ram Bergman||Based on||:||Characters by George Lucas||Starring||:||Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis||Production company||:||Lucasfilm Ltd.||Country||:||United States|
It's a game-changer for the series as a whole, and an immensely impressive one at that.
There is a special, inherent challenge in crafting the second chapter of a story designed as a trilogy. As a direct sequel, its job is to adopt certain story threads from its predecessor and weave a unique, independent narrative. But traditionally, they're also meant to avoid certain firm conclusions and keep specific doors open so that they can be closed in the finale still to come. This is an issue that has long been associated with the Star Wars franchise, going back to 1980's The Empire Strikes Back. As iconic as that film is, and as much as it adds to the macro arc, it famously is much more about moving pieces around on a chess board than it is about telling a complete story.
It's with that in mind that we come to writer/director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the anticipated sequel to J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was designed with the intention of being released two years before the untitled Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019. Because of its position within the big picture scheme, many have naturally viewed the blockbuster with certain expectations -- fervently wondering which hotly debated franchise questions will be addressed, and which will be saved for the anticipated follow-up. It's an earned atmosphere generated from the love that the movies have inspired for decades... but watching the film you recognize that it fully expected those expectations.