In Depth

Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi reviews - the force is (mostly) strong with this one

Spoiler-free review round-up: majority of critics lavish praise on new instalment but some question its length and ambition

Star Wars 8 - The Last Jedi: Japanese advert promises 'shocking truth'

17 May

An unverified Japanese advert for Star Wars: The Last Jedi declares that the upcoming film will reveal a "shocking truth" greater than any we’ve seen before in the franchise.

"The obvious answer is that this will be the discovery of Rey’s origin," says Gizmodo, before adding: "What if it isn't?"

The leaflet was originally shared by a Star Wars forum user and reported on by Star Wars News Net

It is almost entirely in Japanese except for The Last Jedi‘s release date and a URL for Disney’s official website in Japan.

"I checked the URL out and it is legitimate, which means there is a good chance the leaflet is legitimate, as well," says Dork Side of the Force writer Elaine Tveit.

It could be hinting at any number of big reveals, says ScreenRant's Chris Agar.

"There are a number of mysteries presented in The Force Awakens that need answering, including Rey’s heritage, the backstory of Supreme Leader Snoke, and why Luke went into exile, so this revelation could pertain to any of those – or maybe something else entirely."

However, Star Wars News Net believes these are too small for the "mind-blowing twist" the poster teases.

"Perhaps the big twist is going to be something that won’t be hinted at all in the ad campaign and we’ll only learn about it in the movie itself, much like the reveal that Kylo Ren was Han and Leia’s son in The Force Awakens," it says.

Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi - Will Rey and Kylo Ren fall in love?

16 May

Star Wars is an epic tale of intergalactic conflict, mystical powers, huge spaceship battles and, yes, domestic family issues.

Most fans, when pushed, will agree that the series' enduring popularity is as much to do with the relationships of the main protagonists as it is with the exciting lightsaber battles.

For this reason, Star Wars obsessives spend hours poring over every detail of the 40-year-old space opera looking for clues about what might be coming next.

Most recently, the questions that have engaged fans' interest most closely are the relationships between the series' new leads - especially how newcomer Rey connects to the Skywalker clan.

After the release of 2015's The Force Awakens, the leading theory was that she was the daughter of Luke Skywalker and therefore the cousin of the new masked villain Kylo Ren.

But a new theory has fans speculating that the connection between the two might be romantic rather than familial.

In an extensive thread on Reddit, one user collated the clues from the official Disney-run Star Wars Databank, pulling out the many mentions of the "special connection" shared between the two. Some think this is merely evidence the two are related, but others argue it hints at an amorous attraction.

Redditor Sockdaddy says: "If they have a connection and Rey has a line of sight into Kylo's humanity through his mind, and develops a sense of empathy for him, then it could lay grounds for a romantic storyline to develop."

Curiousgem19 is more even convinced that romance between the two will blossom, saying: "I think it would be awesome if Ren does indeed fall for Rey. It could even be that by the end of the series, Rey might reciprocate his feelings, and that would help Ren cross over from the dark side to the light... Kind of like a redemption of his grandfather, Darth Vader's, story arc."

However, Ellendalahan, while believing it is not impossible for an attraction between the two characters to develop, hopes it does not.

She writes: "A plot where [Kylo Ren] becomes infatuated and pursues her could be interesting if well-done, but I hope this is not the case simply because women in movies are so frequently tied to romance drama. It happens and it's part of life, but the stigma wouldn't be good in this moment where Hollywood seems to be opening for strong female roles."

On entertainment news site Heroes and Heartbreakers, Nicola R White lays out a compelling case for why Kylo and Rey are meant to be together.

First of all, she says, Kylo is a "tortured hottie" who, underneath the veneer of wickedness, has a compellingly tender side - not to mention "great hair".

Second, while reformed stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) treats Rey as some kind of damsel in distress (forcing her to tell him: "Stop taking my hand!"), Kylo respects Rey and her powers right from the outset.   

Viewers might also wish to consider the "fated mates" trope, White says, which is common to plenty of fiction but seems particularly prevalent in the Star Wars universe. "Both Rey and Ren [were] chosen from birth to wield the Force (as all Jedi are)," she says, "so there seems to be a good chance the universe wants them together."

Could Disney's involvement in the franchise be about to turn the whole thing into an intergalactic reinterpretation of the children's classic Beauty and the Beast? White believes so: "Just like Beast... Kylo Ren is royalty transformed. Also like Beast, his scary exterior hides surprising tenderness - when he interrogates Rey and tells her to give in so he doesn’t hurt her; when he speaks of being torn apart as he struggles against the light side of the Force... Maybe Rey is just the fresh-faced, intelligent heroine our Beast needs to find his way back to himself." 

Not everyone is convinced of the theory however. In a long Reddit post, Tldr0 argues that the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren is almost definitely not romantic.

In the entire history of "strange connections" in the Star Wars universe, they say, only one has turned out to be romantic - and that was later discarded and declared not to be part of the official canon.

Tldr0 adds: "In Return of the Jedi, Leia tells Luke that she's 'always known' that they were family; I would call that a strange connection. Vader and Luke have a telepathic conversation in Empire Strikes Back; I would call that a strange connection. Leia has memories of her mother (presumably through the Force); I would call that a strange connection... If you think that a 'strange connection' can mean absolutely nothing but romance, you completely lack an imagination."

Rey and Kylo Ren appear to be stronger in the Force than anyone else in their generation, the Redditor continues, so it should not come as a huge surprise that they share a "Force bond".

So will the pair turn out to be family, lovers or some other relationship altogether? All will be revealed when Star Wars 8 is released in December.

Away from the world of fantasy, there has been a sharp rise in parents in the US calling their children Rey and Kylo since The Force Awakens was released in 2017.

Data from the Social Security Administration reveals the number of newborns being given the name of the two Star Wars characters has risen dramatically in the past year and a half.

In 2014, 239 people named their child Rey - but only eight opted to have a Kylo join their family. However, after The Force Awakens came out at the end of 2015, the following year saw 317 people named their child Rey and 245 opt for Kylo.

Strikingly, from Rey being considered a boy's name before the film was released, 63 girls were given the name last year.

Quartz says the rise in popularity may be noticeable, but the two names are still far from the most popular baby names in the country.

Noah takes top spot in favourite names in the US last year, with 19,015 babies given the name. The most popular girl's name was Emma, with 19,414 children called this.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi hints at 'showdown' between General Leia and Supreme Leader Snoke

8 May

When it comes to rumours about upcoming films, nothing has movie buffs releasing their inner detectives like conspiracies about the Star Wars franchise. This time it's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, due for release on 5 December, that has stepped into the spotlight for scrutiny and speculation.

It features Carrie Fisher's final Star Wars appearance and theories abound about what significance her role will hold this time around, with rumours suggesting the film will begin with a showdown between General Leia Organa and Supreme Leader Snoke.

Snoke made a mysterious appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 and is due to make an encore in The Last Jedi. What he might be up to in this outing, however, is being put to the test by fans' sleuthing skills.

And, as ComicBook.com says, "if one recent (and persistent) rumor is true, then the First Order honcho may come face-to-face with General Leia".

Last month, a throwaway account on Reddit posted a collection of "Spoiler Dump" threads on the site, the first detailing how Princess Leia "finds herself captured after a raid by Captain Phasma and her new unit weakens the Resistance".

It also says "Leia is boarded on the Star Destroyer which houses Snoke", adding: "Phasma presents her to Snoke. Snoke and Leia trade barbs and Snoke is angry by the mention of Luke returning by the end of the conversation. He has Leia thrown in a holding cell. He brings up Hux on a hologram and tells him to inform Kylo Ren they have his mother."

Whether the rumours hold any water remains to be seen, but they have been picked up by numerous film and media outlets, including DigitalSpy, Nerdist and NME.

An earlier interview with actor Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron, has also been the focus of some retrospective scrutiny after he told Business Insider that Fisher had "a very intense scene" to which he bore witness.

"I can't give anything away, but there was a scene where there was some physicality there and it was shot just over and over and over," he said. "She relished the physicality of it, let me just say. It was pretty intense."

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