The anticipation surrounding the next instalment in the Star Wars saga has been cranked up a notch with the release of key information and plot details by Episode VIII director Rian Johnson.
Best known for his work on films like Brick and the sci-fi time travel hit Looper, Johnson had previously remained tight-lipped on details surrounding Star Wars Episode VIII, which is due out in just under a year.
But while speaking to USA Today the 43-year-old filmmaker, who is also writing the latest instalment from the franchise, Johnson lifted the lid on what we can expect from the follow-up to JJ Abrams’ 2015 smash.
In fact, Johnson offered up five key revelations to keep fans guessing and theorising until Christmas.
A title has been in place from the very beginning
There’s been a lot of speculation as to what the title of the new movie will be but it turns out Johnson has had one in place from the beginning – and we mean the very beginning.
“It was in the very first draft I wrote,” he said. Unfortunately, as Johnson explains, we’ll have to wait for the big reveal. “All in good time, my friend.”
Poe Dameron, Finn and Rey are set for hard times
In much the same way that Empire Strikes Back ended up being a veritable shower of shit for Luke, Han and Leia, it sounds like testing times could be ahead for our new trio of heroes.
“I wanted to know more about each of them, and that doesn’t just mean information or backstory,” Johnson revealed. “Figure out what’s the most difficult thing each of them could be challenged with now — let’s throw that at them and dig into what really makes them tick by seeing how they handle that.”
Sounds interesting, if a little gloomy.
We’ll find out what the hell Luke Skywalker has been up to
Last time we say Mark Hamill’s iconic hero, he was living on an island in the Shetlands, sporting a beard that made him look like the Honey Monster’s layabout brother – but we needn’t worry apparently.
‘What’s going on with Luke Skywalker’ is going to be a key focus of the new film according to the director, with fans given as clear an explanation as possible as to what the hell he’s been doing.
“I’m approaching it with a take that I hope feels honest and real and is going to be interesting to folks and make sense.”
Rey and Luke are set for some serious Yoda-style bonding
Which leads us neatly on to the next big revelation, concerning Luke and his new charge Rey, who were brought together at the end of the last movie.
Johnson says the new film will focus on their new relationship with ‘both not knowing what’s going to happen and also having a lot of expectations in her head about how this is going to go’.
“It very much feels like what we all go through in adolescence, the dawning of this new chapter of our lives,” he said, adding that familial themes will play ‘a huge part of especially Rey’s character’, and ‘something that was a really powerful part of her setup and something I really wanted to dig into with this’.
It certainly has echoes of Empire again, with Rey not only growing as a character, but learning more about her family in an outline that sounds eerily similar to Luke’s own tutelage under Yoda.
There will be more of an emphasis on fun, fun, fun
Despite all the hints at an Empire-style sequel, Johnson is insistent that the new film will end up having more in common with more comedic sci-fi fare like Guardians of the Galaxy.
“I want it to be a blast and to be funny and to be a ride the way The Force Awakens and the original Star Wars movies were,” he said.
Star Wars: Episode VIII will arrive in cinemas on December 15 2017.
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