'Star Wars: The Last Jedi': Everything we know so far

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Oh my Skywalker! "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is approaching fast. And ever since the first trailer's premiere at Star Wars Celebration in April, we've been fed a healthy diet of clues regarding what to expect when Mark Hamill's Luke, Daisy Ridley's Rey and the rest of the characters in a galaxy far, far away return to movie screens.

While we have absolutely no early intelligence about the movie's plot, let's lead off with the 100 percent spoiler-free details for anyone who's been avoiding online trailerstoys and any other possible hints about what they might find when the film debuts.

When you can watch 'The Last Jedi'

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" opens in the US, UK and Australia on Thursday 14 December. Tickets went on sale in October and many screenings have already sold out, but it certainly couldn't hurt to check with your local movie theater to grab an opening-weekend seat. Take a restroom break before the movie begins, as it will be the longest Star Wars film so far with a runtime of 2 hours, 30 minutes. (Pro tip: Just in case I have to go mid-film, I use the RunPee app on my phone, which recommends the best times to take a quick break). http://hulumagazine.com

Who's in it?

  Nearly everyone in 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is returning in one way or another. That includes legacy actors Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and the late Carrie Fisher in her final portrayal of Leia Organa. (We're not holding our breath for a reprise of Harrison Ford's Han Solo.) Newer faces like Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron will also continue their stories. CGI-wise, Andy Serkis returns to embody Supreme Leader Snoke and Lupita Nyong'o will be back as Maz Kanata. Expect BB-8 to roll on back, and Chewbacca too. The movie is directed by Rian Johnson, who also helmed 2012's "Looper" and three episodes of "Breaking Bad." As far as new faces, we'll get to that below the giant spoiler warning. Benicio del Toro is joining the Star Wars universe as DJ, a "shady character of unknown alliances," said by Entertainment Weekly to be a codebreaker. It's still vague as to exactly what DJ will be up to, but in the hands of an actor with a resume like del Toro's, it's potentially juicy. Kelly Marie Tran will play Rose, "a maintenance worker for the resistance" who Vanity Fair reports will be part of a "mission behind enemy lines" with Finn. New CGI characters are also on the way in the form of the adorable, penguin-like Porgs. Lucasfilm Story Group's Pablo Hidalgo said in July the creatures are native to Ahch-To, and will be living on the island where Rey and Luke meet at the end of "The Force Awakens." Just as cute, but with a questionable allegiance, is the new BB-9E droid revealed in August as part of Force Friday. BB-9E is painted in dark colors and has a flat head that stays on top of a rolling body similar to BB-8's. And the rolling droid army might not stop with just BB-8 vs. BB-9E. IGN discovered in September that the blue 2BB2 and light brown BB-4 droids are options in the Star Wars Droid Factory at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The Sphero Star Wars app describes the droids as "ready to aid in the fight against the First Order." Will these two droids make an appearance in "The Last Jedi"?

What's the story?

The latest trailers appear to pick up not long after we left off from "The Force Awakens" -- with Rey starting her Jedi training with an apparently wary Luke Skywalker. Following the destruction of his Jedi Temple by his nephew Ben-turned-Kylo-Ren, Luke describes the raw power of the Force wielded by Rey as something he finds frightening. While we don't know from the trailers if Luke eventually refuses to continue training Rey, we do see her ask Kylo to "show me my place in all this." Since murdering his father, Han Solo, Kylo is also seen smashing his helmet and donning a black mark over the scar he received at the end of the 2015 film. While Rey and Finn spent plenty of time together in "The Force Awakens," trailers for "The Last Jedi" show Finn on a separate mission. It puts him back in a First Order uniform and eventually pits him against his former boss, Captain Phasma, in a fiery confrontation. We last saw Phasma taken prisoner by Finn before being thrown in a trash compactor on Starkiller Base. (If you want to know how she escaped, there's a comic book for that.)   We'll also get to see the late Carrie Fisher continue as General Leia Organa, shown in the trailers leading her forces while on some kind of spaceship. While she had shot all of her "Last Jedi" scenes before her untimely death in December 2016 at age 60, it has been heavily rumored her character was expected to be a big part of 2019's "Episode IX." That sentiment was confirmed by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy to Vanity Fair in May. Kennedy said that movie would have put a focus on Leia in much the same way Han Solo was depicted in "The Force Awakens." Instead, Lucasfilm said in January the studio has no plans to digitally re-create her, stating "We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars."

Who is the last Jedi?

And here's the biggest thing we don't know: who is the title referring to? Judging by the trailer it seems Luke Skywalker is deeply conflicted about Rey's powers of the Force. So will he train Rey to become the last Jedi after he's gone? Or will Luke withhold his teachings from Rey so the Jedi order dies with him? And yes, Johnson did say that Luke is the Jedi in the title, but until we see the movie for ourselves that could be a misdirect. On the other hand, Finn proved surprising adept with the traditional Jedi lightsaber in "The Force Awakens." Or the new film could introduce a new character with Force powers who could take on the Jedi mantle -- maybe, to borrow a phrase from the original trilogy, there is another.

What about 'Episode IX'? And that 'Solo' movie?

Have some patience, but you won't be waiting long. While both of these upcoming Star Wars movies have had their original director(s) replaced, the future of Star Wars movies is looking pretty bright. Director Ron Howard announced in October that he's wrapped shooting on "Solo: A Star Wars Story," the movie all about a younger Han Solo played by Alden Ehrenreich. It's still planned to debut on May 25, 2018, despite losing original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller during filming. Meanwhile, J.J. Abrams is returning to the director's chair for "Star Wars: Episode IX," allowing him to close out the trilogy he started with 2015's "The Force Awakens." Abrams' return was announced a week after original "Episode IX" director Colin Trevorrow stepped away from the movie in September. Along with the director change came a delay, with the film now scheduled to debut on Dec. 20, 2019 instead of May 24, 2019.

And what's Rian Johnson doing after this?

He's hoping you're going to love "The Last Jedi," because after that, he's starting a whole new trilogy of Star Wars films that are completely disconnected from Luke Skywalker and his family. In case he's reading this, here are a few tips that we hope he could consider while crafting this new corner of the Star Wars universe. Star Wars at 40: A look at the cultural phenomenon that's been thrilling fans since the first film in 1977. Crowd Control: A crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers.


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