Monday, February 24, 2020

CULTURE | 16-12-2017 12:02

The hype reawakens as Star Wars saga returns

The eighth film in the smash-hit series, The Last Jedi is a follow-up to The Force Awakens, which brought the franchise back to screens in 2015. Showing on local screens as of Friday, the film is expected to smash global box office records.

The Stars were out in Force this week. Stormtroopers, droids and celebrities from galaxies near and far hit the red carpets in the shadow of giant AT-AT assault vehicles this week as the glittering world premières of Star Wars: The Last Jedi were held. Events in Los Angeles last Saturday, in London on Tuesday and in Dubai on Wednesday drew out the stars and even royalty, with Britain’s Prince Harry and Prince William treading the red carpet in the UK capital. The British royals arrived dressed in tuxedos for the screening at London’s Royal Albert Hall, where they were greeted by the rolling droid character BB-8 who dutifully bowed. The two royals reportedly have cameo roles as stormtroopers in the film, after visiting the set in April 2016 when they were rumoured to have shot the scene. 

Filmed at Pinewood Studios near London and on the west coast of Ireland, The Last Jedi is the eighth film in the space series and runs to a lengthy 153 minutes. Mark Hami l l, who plays Luke Skywalker in the films, said the longevity of Star Wars had seen his character make way for new stars. “It’s like a bunch of kids rifling through my old toy box, playing with my toys... I love it!” he said. Despite 40 years passing since the intergalactic saga first hit cinemas, the cast members of Rian Johnson’s Last Jedi are convinced it still has contemporary relevance.

“I think it really deals with issues the world is facing at the moment, about politics which splits people apart and the spark of hope which is going to bring people back together again,” said Andy Serkis, who stars as Supreme Leader Snoke.

Lupita Nyong’o, who plays the motion- captured character Maz Kanata, said the film was also important as a form of escapism. “I think the importance of fantasy is that it allows us to first of all, escape from the world we’re in for a second and it brings us all together and unifies us in a way, on a subject, in a way that other things don’t,” she said. “And for a moment we get to forget our own worries and worry about the galaxy far, far away.” Hammill agrees. “History repeats itself. We are in a very dark era and people need that escapism,” he said recentlyy. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is expected to cash in on 12 months of relentless hype with one of the biggest domestic opening weekends ever. 
Director Rian Johnson introduced the movie at the LA event by bringing onstage the cast, and paid an emotional tribute to the late Carrie Fisher, the iconic General Leia Organa in the series, who died last December. Moviegoers clapped throughout as she appeared onscreen, and rose for a standing ovation as the credits rolled. 

Experts are predicting an opening weekend domestic box office of around US$220 million, which would push it beyond Jurassic World (2015) into second place behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens (also 2015) ($248 million). Written by Johnson, The Last Jedi picks up directly where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, looking to Luke to teach her about The Force. It presages adverse times for the Resistance – prompting comparisons with the middle chapter of the original trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back. 

“It’s the second movie in the trilogy, and I think we’ve been kind of trained to expect it will be a little darker, and obviously it looks a little darker,” said Johnson, 43, recently. 

Along with Ridley, the film sees Adam Driver return as Rey’s nemesis Kylo Ren, John Boyega as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. The film began showing on local screens on Thursday evenings. 

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