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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Entertaining escapism and some eternal truths to make you think – John Woods finds plenty to ponder in the latest Star Wars episode ...

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
Walt Disney Studios 2017
Director Rian Johnson, Cast: Jon Boyega, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hammill, Daisy Ridley,
Running time: 170 minutes, Category 12(A)

Dedicated followers of The Force have eagerly awaited Episode eight in the series. The Star Wars films have come out in an odd order, the gold standard episodes four to six were released a couple of decades before films one to three.

These prequels were uneven in quality but Episode seven – The Force Reawakens – was a superb return to form. A film that managed to pick up all the threads in a tight storyline; it celebrated the original characters, introduced some strong new faces and whetted the appetite for more.

Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker makes a fleeting appearance at the last frames of the film, without uttering a word. In The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker is back, and in many ways steals the show. It is not so much the length of time he spends on screen as the contribution he makes to the movement of the film when he does appear.

It is great to see Luke reunited briefly with Princess Leia played mostly by a computer-generated Carrie Fisher (sadly no longer with us).

Some viewers have found the film a little sluggish, (admittedly one of our party did nod off a couple of times at the late evening showing) but I found the film thoroughly absorbing.

All the great Star Wars themes are here. The conflict between light and darkness, the struggle to overcome the pull toward evil, the violence of evil, and its tendency to underestimate the power of light. The film also explores the power that comes from personal sacrifice.

One line in the film captures this very well: “The Resistance can't win by destroying what they hate — they can only win by saving what they love”. Now of course we know that in the film detestable evil needs to be destroyed as part of the rescue, yet this is a powerful echo of the gospel we proclaim.

The film sets up the finale of Episode IX, as it scatters tiny seeds of hope. Maybe a film like this can remind Christians that it only needs a spark to set a fire going; a tiny mustard seed can produce astonishing fruitfulness. 

Treat yourself to a couple of hours of escapism that will entertain and make you think.

John Woods is pastor of Lancing Tabernacle


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