Rian Johnson and Star Wars: The Last Jedi are a winning combination

Photo c/o Disney

Wow oh wow I said when I saw STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI but seeing it again now it’s on DVD and Blu-ray only increases my admiration for writer/director Rian Johnson and what he’s done with the new episode in the saga.

How prophetic Luke’s line from the trailer for STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI turned out to be – “This is not going to go the way you think.” No, it most certainly didn’t. But I absolutely loved the unexpected twists and turns to the story and characters which fantastic writer/director Rian Johnson realised so superbly in this latest instalment of the iconic space saga.

The way this movie developed the plot from Episode VII‘s The Force Awakens wasn’t a hit with everyone though as THE LAST JEDI has turned out to be the most divisive of any film in the STAR WARS franchise. I consider myself a die-hard fan of this saga from age 10 onwards when I was electrified by the original trilogy. But where The Force Awakens seemed to meld elements from Episodes IV, V, and VI as well as introducing us to a thrilling group of new characters to pretty much universal acclaim, here some fans adored Johnson’s take and some fans hated it. As I’m firmly in the former camp, all I can tell you a few reasons why I found the movie so enthralling.

Although STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is the second part of this new trilogy, one thing that struck me when seeing it again was that I saw trios everywhere in the film. Rather than giving the characters an easy ride, Johnson challenges each one by pitting them against each other or by seeing them form unusual alliances – both to very exciting effect.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley as Rey and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The key three – Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley as Rey and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker

The key players here Daisy Ridley’s spirited Rey looking to Mark Hamill’s veteran Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to teach her in the ways of the Force but finding a deeper and perhaps more perilous connection with Luke’s former apprentice and the son of his best friend Han Solo – the conflicted Kylo Ren, brilliantly played by Adam Driver. You also have Carrie Fisher’s formidable General Leia Organa leading the last vestiges of the plucky Resistance with the help of Laura Dern‘s similarly courageous Vice Admiral Holdo but both coming to blows with Oscar Isaac‘s hot-headed pilot Poe Dameron, who has to decide the kind of fighter he wants to be.

There’s John Boyega’s ex-First Order stormtrooper Finn forging a new partnership with Kelly Marie Tran’s winning rebel engineer Rose Tico but forced to put his faith in the hard-to-read mercenary DJ, played by the tremendous Benicio Del Toro. Finn will also see his newfound devotion to the Resistance tested if he finds himself face-to-face again with his nemesis Captain Phasma (a majestic Gwendoline Christie) and her commanding officer General Hux, played with malevolent glee by Domnhall Gleeson. And you’re really not sure with whom Kylo Ren will eventually place his allegiance – will it be with Rey or his dark master Supreme Leader Snoke, another awesome motion-capture performance from Andy Serkis? Wow.

As with the DVD/Blu-ray extras on The Force Awakens, the ones contained with STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI offer a fascinating insight into the making of the film. Principal among these is the terrific 95-minute documentary The Director and the Jedi, which follows Rian Johnson as he can’t quite believe he’s stepping inside something he’s been emotionally connected with since he was a young boy. Make sure you watch that because it gives you a further appreciation of the magnificent finished movie and also leaves you wondering how director J. J. Abrams will finish everything off in Episode IX.

I, for one, will be there to find out but for right now, I’m going to watch THE LAST JEDI.