At Disney’s D23 Expo over the weekend, Lucasfilm unveiled a behind-the-scenes reel for this year’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The Last Jedi is the 8th “Episode” in the Star Wars franchise and is directed Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick). The behind-the-scenes video delivered a greater insight to how powerful Star Wars is on and off screen, showing off not only action form the film, but also the actor’s raw chemistry off screen.
You can see the reel here:
Note: Minor spoilers and other potential spoilers lie ahead.
Let’s dive into the video, shot-by-shot. The reel starts with a number of set shots and props. Emphasising that Lucasfilm has really learned from the negative criticisms of the prequel trilogy by keeping CGI to a minimum and focusing on practical sets and locations.
It appears that first metal framework is the internals of a Star Destroyer, most likely the same as we saw in The Force Awakens. It is then followed by a quick shot of the hut like structures on Ach-To (filmed on Skellig Michael Island) which we saw in the ending sequence of TFA. These huts are likely a part of the first Jedi temple which according to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker went searching for.
We then see a full sized Millennium Falcon. As with all episodes IV to VII, the Falcon will play an integral part of the the film. With Han Solo gone, one can only assume that Rey will take command of the Falcon in VIII. Next, a couple quick shots of C-3PO and R2-D2, BB-8 and Chewbacca getting set up.
Chewie will almost certainly have a new side to explore; a Wookiee emotionally fragmented and reeling from the loss of his long time best friend.
This is followed by a shot of four speeders – they look expensive and high class. This will likely be a part of the Canto Bight casino planet, which will be discussed later. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) then is heard referencing the fact that Episode IV when it was originally released in 1977 did not have a number. It was just Star Wars. Cue theme music…
Next shot is of an explosion of red dust, falling into what appears to be a trench. What particularly stands out is the vibrancy and that the camera is immersed in the shot, covered in plastic, similar to the rain sequence (Jyn Erso on Eadu) in last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
This is likely the same planet, Crait, that in the trailer those small ships were kicking up red dust. A shot of Rey, dawning her new costume for the film, so this is likely post her training on Ach-To.
Then a beautiful overhead shot of Chewie sitting by the fire and the Falcon. This is most likely at the beginning of the film as it appears to be where the Falcon landed at the end of TFA.
Next, we have a compilation of shots of director Rian Johnson being involved with sets and props, where we hear Daisy Ridley’s voice over describing how Johnson has created “a story that is unexpected but right”.
One of the biggest attractions to this film is how Rian Johnson has complete creative control, given how he is known for being original with his works. He triumphed in 2012 with his film Looper which was critically praised for it’s originality and intellectual flair, earning a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. If that can be translated over to this film, the worry over rehashing will be silenced.
The voice over continues as we see Finn (John Boyega) with his new costume, and a shot of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) sitting next to Johnson against what appears to be a cave wall.
Daisy continues to say the story will have people exclaiming “oh my god”, which is interesting because a few months ago a pamphlet was released in Japan promising the most shocking truth in the history of Star Wars. So it is safe to say that there will be plentiful twists and reveals. But the question is how they handle them so that they aren’t compared to Empire Strikes Back.
We next get a shot of General/Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). Instantly it is known the heart strings will be pulled in this film. It will be interesting to see how her character will be carried story wise into Episode IX. From what was originally designed Harrison Ford was the centre of VII, Mark Hamill for VIII and Carrie for IX. Lucasfilm has already confirmed she will not be CGI reconstructed for the film. Hopefully there is enough here to give Carrie and Leia a well deserved send off.
Now, a shot of Luke and Rey, immediately following the end of TFA. So we know he takes the lightsaber. What follows from here would be particularly interesting. For Luke, that lightsaber is a reminder of the Bespin Encounter with his Father Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and learning the link that allowed Rey to experience that so-called “forceback” in Maz’s castle and why it calls to her.
This is followed by Mark Hamill reiterating that even those who think they know it all to prepare to be shocked. See more shots of Ach-to… my prediction is that the first quarter of the film will be set here for Rey’s training and will shift between the Resistance and First Order story and Kylo’s training as well. Since there is no time jump like traditional Star Wars sequels it is likely we might see one later in the film.
A shot of Kylo Ren, wearing a cape. According to Star Wars News Net this is likely one of Darth Vader’s capes. Which plays into my thought that we will revisit Darth Vader’s castle on Mustafar which we saw in the end of the second act of Rogue One. A shot of what is likely the interior of a Star Destroyer.
Next is Daisy Ridley again describing how although Episode VIII is the second in the trilogy it feels like it is its own thing. A shot of explosions in the Resistance base on D’Qar. Johnson has already described that the First Order will move on the offensive, post the destruction of Starkiller base, this shot is likely to also happen at the start of the film where the resistance will be put in a place of desperation.
Shot of Leia at what appears to be a resistance base. The film will be political in nature as the framework is set up in the 2016’s novel of Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray. Few shots of cast great off screen chemistry.
Next is a new first order stormtrooper weapon, that is like a spring loaded claws. Which is followed by a new stormtrooper, apparent by the subtle black line that runs over the back of the helmet and shoulder plate.
We next get a voice over from Kelly Marie Tran, who was announced at this year’s Star Wars Celebration to be playing a new Resistance character named Rose
She goes on to describe how the visual effects and creatures make ‘Star Wars so cool’ while featuring a what looks like a space horse, a crystalline doglike creature and other cool aliens.
We get a shot of Oscar winning actress Lupita Nyong’o confirming that Maz Kanata will return for Episode VIII; she will likely tie into Finn’s story.
Then there is a shot of new character Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) and Leia. The prediction is that they will be rivals particularly over the leadership of the Resistance. Holdo is likely to appear after the loss of their base. Rian Johnson answered questions about her and Benecio Del Toro’s character saying only that appearances can be deceiving.
Tran continues to describe that each character is different but also equally complex. We see a quick shot of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) followed by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) signifying their almost equal stature within their opposing causes.
Next is a fun behind the scenes shot of John Boyega poking fun at Rian Johnson for his inability to pull of a good Wookie impression. This is followed by evidence of such. But then we hear Chewie’s iconic voice.
We then see Rey running across what appears to be the coast of Ach-To with what is now licensed as her lightsaber. Although I imagine that she will create her own sometime in this film or in IX, as it is a rite of passage for any Jedi to build a lightsaber.
We get a shot of Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), confirming she made it out of the Starkiller Base trash compactor. We hear from Christie as she describes how all the characters both young and new will be developed.
We’re given a few sequential shots of Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, Poe, R2-D2, Chewie, C-3PO and Luke. The ones of particular note are Kylo and Luke.
Kylo doesn’t have his mask here, and we see his new scar, due to its ‘ridiculous’ look, Johnson moved it to over the cheek rather than up the side of the nose.
Luke is wearing different outfit on what appears again to be Ach-To, this will probably be when he and Rey are leaving to face the ominous threat of Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren.
Next, another shot of Leia. All of her scenes thus far appear to carry emotional weight.
We catch a shot of Finn emerging from the advanced bacta machine he had been in a coma in after the assault from Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base.
Quick shot again of Phasma and stormtroopers destroying something, it is likely this is the same sequence as the one we saw in the trailer.
Next, some interesting stylistic shots of persons sliding and flying through the air.
…some more creatures from the Canto Bight planet while they mingle with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
John Boyega gives a voice over, once again emphasising that this film will go in a very different direction to what we’d expect after VII. We get a shot of Rose, and Benecio Del Toro’s character “DJ”. They have not yet released his name and as with all things Star Wars it’s not because he’s not important. Johnson has said that the initials DJ are important and are chosen for a reason. There will be a significant twist coming with this character for sure. We further see some more resistance fighters with a great display of practical effects. Boyega goes on to say Rian Johnson “has made Star Wars really fresh and new”.
Next to a fight scene for Kylo Ren against two individuals. Is he fighting other Knights of Ren or something a part of his training with Snoke? More set shots of Canto Bight.
We get a fight scene for Rey against three individuals which one can only assume will be the Knights of Ren. Which should be one spectacle to behold. We have a few more shots of aliens fitting only for Star Wars.
There is one alien in particular which is supposed to be the caretakers of the island which Luke is on on Ach-To. These were the ‘not ewoks’ that Johnson described.
We get a shot of Finn in what appears to be a First Order prison. Most likely being betrayed by “DJ” which we know he and Rose will come into contact with at Canto Bight. Then we hear Rian Johnson’s own voice over saying how he wants to deliver something shocking but hopes ‘it’ll feel real and honest’.
We see shot of Rose and Finn dressed as First Order officers, likely infiltrating a base quite reminiscent of Rogue One with Jyn, Cassian and K2-SO. We get a mystery character falling down a passage which looks to be lined with explosives. Some more cast chemistry especially those with Carrie Fisher.
We hear again from Gwendoline Christie saying how it’s this ancient story of good against evil. Which is the crux of Star Wars story: the light and the dark.
We see another shot of Kylo, looking menacing. It will be interesting to see whether they go with an emotional struggle for him or will he be completely consumed by the dark side after killing his father. A feat Luke couldn’t do, which spared him from turning to the dark side but based off Johnson’s words he’s likely to have that struggle to begin with but he will be consumed eventually.
A shot of Canto Bight casino again followed by a touching shot of Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher dancing in a parking lot.
Another shot of the guardian creature from Ach-To moving to a shot of Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd as Lieutenant Connix.
We have a shot of Rey training with a staff, meaning she will likely use her scavenger staff from TFA. It is theorised that potentially her lightsaber she will create will incorporate the structure of a staff.
Christie describes that there is a real spiritual depth to the film as we see Luke, Finn and Rey and some explosions we’ve come to expect from Star Wars. It is interesting because it means that Finn and Rey will meet again sometime in the film and both sport new costumes, it appears to be on a rocky snow planet.
More shots of the Resistance team of Poe, Finn and Rose and Kylo Ren and a stellar shot of Rey with a hood and lightsaber.
The reel ends with another tear jerking dialogue from Carrie, describing how the film is so powerful because it is about family. Which has always been the foundation for the entire Star Wars franchise. So the biggest thing here is that it will be the same things we know and love about Star Wars but it’s amongst others that are unexpected and shocking.
After the title finishes we see Admiral Ackbar reference his classic line by saying ‘It’s a wrap’.
In all this film just looks incredible and has all the pieces of nostalgia and originality to produce a film that might rival the best in the franchise. Will Star Wars: The Last Jedi live up to all the hype and promise? We will know when it lands in cinemas on December 14th.
Star Wars: Last Jedi is directed by Rian Johnson and stars Dasiy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhem, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Laura Dern, Benecio Del Toro, Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson and Kelly Marie Tran.
All images copyright Lucasfilm