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‘Last Jedi’ earns early praise – Star Wars film premieres with tribute to late Fisher

LOS ANGELES, Dec 10, (Agencies): An elaborate premiere featuring a massive assault vehicle and a procession of Stormtroopers and droids preceded the first showing of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and initial reactions praised the latest installment of the beloved space opera franchise.

Formal reviews won’t be out for a few days, but journalists and others at the screening who shared their initial reactions online said “The Last Jedi” packed the adventure expected in a Star Wars film, but took it into new territory.

“Logan” director James Mangold praised “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson, calling his film “a great chapter of a blockbuster franchise, spectacular and unpredictable, but also his own voice shining through.”

Producer Adam F. Goldberg wrote that the film made him feel like a kid again.

Many who posted online about the premiere said they were still processing the film, which features the return of Luke Skywalker and the final performance of Carrie Fisher, who died after filming the eighth installment in the core Star Wars franchise.

Attendees at Saturday’s premiere were the first people outside the cast, filmmakers and top executives at Walt Disney Co and Lucasfilm who had seen “The Last Jedi.” It will be publicly released on Friday.

Fans at the premiere were treated to up-close looks at new characters, including an elite squad of guards clad in red armor as well as a collection of droids, including the droids C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8, who walked and rolled down the red carpet before the film’s stars arrived.

“It’s a Star Wars movie, and the energy tonight is pretty amazing,” said a beaming Andy Serkis, who plays the villain Supreme Leader Snoke.

Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, arrived wearing a shimmering dress adorned with stars. Ridley was in good spirits, saying about her dress, “I mean, it’s just fun. It’s fun. And I feel fun. And it’s got stars on it.”

Newcomer Kelly Marie Tran wore a bright red dress with a lengthy train behind it. John Boyega, who earlier in the day tweeted that he might miss the premiere because a snowstorm had snarled travel out of Atlanta, arrived sporting a dark blue tuxedo and turtleneck.

Secrecy about the film remained in place on the red carpet. Anthony Daniels, who plays C-3PO, told a reporter looking for details on the film, “I’m going to let you work out everything for yourself.”

“The Last Jedi,” which arrives in theaters on Dec. 15, is one of the year’s biggest releases and includes the return of Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher’s final role. Early box office projections are for the film to debut in the $200 million range for its first weekend.

The galaxy far, far away was brought to life in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday for the world premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” where the anticipated first screening was dedicated to the franchise’s late star, Carrie Fisher.

Dedicate

“I want to dedicate tonight to Carrie, who is up there right now flipping me the bird, saying ‘Damn it Rian, don’t you dare make this night a solemn tribute,’” the film’s writer-director Rian Johnson said as he introduced the screening.

“So let’s all have a blast tonight for Carrie,” he said.

The film ends with a dedication to Fisher, who plays Princess Leia. The actress died at age 60 last December after completing her work on “The Last Jedi”.

Her character, now known as General Leia Organa, leader of the Resistance, plays a key role in the film.

Walt Disney Co.’s “The Last Jedi”, out in US theaters on Dec. 15, follows 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and picks up with the Resistance fighting off Supreme Leader Snoke’s First Order which is trying to take control of the galaxy.

Rey (Daisy Ridley), meanwhile, tries to convince Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to join the Resistance fight and bring a spark of hope to the rebels against Snoke’s tyrannical rule.

The film explores themes of the battle to find a balance in the Force, the supernatural energy that runs through the fictional “Star Wars” galaxy. Reviews of the film are embargoed until Dec. 12.

The star-studded ensemble cast, including Ridley, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis and Hamill, walked the red carpet at the premiere, surrounded by droids and Stormtroopers.

Guests walked into the entrance of the premiere flanked by larger-than-life AT-AT Walker transport vehicles.

Johnson paid tribute to Fisher on the red carpet.

“Once the audience sees her performance in this movie, she’s going to be there in all our hearts,” he said. “It’s bizarre not having her here tonight. She would be the life of the party.”

Stormtroopers, droids and celebrities from galaxies near and far hit the red carpet in the shadow of a giant AT-AT assault vehicle Saturday at the glittering world premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” — although one star almost didn’t make it.

John Boyega, who plays the heroic stormtrooper-turned-rebel Finn, had tweeted that he feared missing the big event because a snowstorm had gridlocked air travel out of Atlanta.

“Trying to get back for the LA premiere! I actually NEED a pilot !!!” he lamented, before turning up in the nick of time for the big screening in downtown LA after managing to catch a flight.

“It’s thanks to Poe Dameron, the best pilot in the galaxy!” he joked on the red carpet, referring to the rebel pilot who aided his escape in the previous film.

He was joined on the red carpet by the rest of the all-star cast, including Daisy Ridley (Rey in the space saga) who arrived wearing a suitably shimmering dress decorated in stars.

Hotter than one of Yoda’s root leaf curries, the “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.

Thousands of guests lucky enough to get tickets were the first moviegoers in the world outside of the production to see the eighth installment of the blockbuster space saga.

Director Rian Johnson introduced the movie 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.

Lucasfilm has embargoed detailed reviews until 9:00 am Los Angeles time (1700 GMT) on Tuesday, but fans were quick to flood social media with rapturous initial reactions to the movie, the longest in the series at 153 minutes.

“There aren’t enough words to express how much I LOVED ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It is mind-blowing! I’m in geek heaven!” tweeted Jenna Busch, a writer for fansite LegionofLeia.com.

“’Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is so very different, exciting, surprising. So many emotions, so many amazing moments. Stay away from spoilers,” added Peter Sciretta of entertainment portal slashfilm.com.

The premiere came six days before the movie’s general release in US theaters, kicking off a run widely expected to be the most successful worldwide since 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Experts are predicting an opening weekend domestic box office of around $220 million, which would push it beyond “Jurassic World” (2015) into second place behind “Awakens” ($248 million).

The cast came together in LA with director Rian Johnson on Sunday to build buzz for “The Last Jedi,” which sees the return of the characters introduced in J.J. Abrams’s first entry in the rebooted trilogy.

Gwendoline Christie, who plays stormtrooper commander Captain Phasma, put the continued relevance of “Star Wars” down to its foundational mythology of good versus evil.

“I think it’s because the world we live in is a changing and evolving place that it retains the simplicity of those elements,” she said.

“But it really resonates with what it is to follow your own human, dark, narcissistic tendencies, where that will take you.”

 

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