In this day of the internet hivemind, it’s hard for TV and film to still surprise anyone.
Take HBO and Sky Atlantic’s brilliant Westworld, which had its entire storyline decoded and laid out on reddit weeks before the final episode aired; or Game of Thrones, which had its big twist – the one about Jon Snow’s ma – worked out by dedicated fans of George RR Martin’s novels decades ahead of its official reveal.
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With so many metaphorical monkeys at so many Wi-Fi enabled typewriters, it sometimes seems inevitable that the united efforts of fans will eventually correctly guess the big plot twists of their favourite movies and shows.
Which is why it was so gratifying to go into Star Wars: The Last Jedi and find myself surprised – over and over again.
(At this point I should say don’t worry: I’m not going to reveal any plot details, or even which theories were wrong. I’m afraid of Mark Hamill’s wrath.)
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I must have read dozens if not hundreds of Star Wars theories following the release of The Force Awakens, and none of them came true. Not one.
Not the ones that were completely wild and out there, not the ones that were eminently plausible and arguably hinted at in Episode VII’s plot. Nothing.
Now obviously in the depths of the internet it’s likely there will be a few stray posts and comments that may have had some idea of some aspect of what actually happens in Episode VIII. Given the sheer mass of discussion around the film, it’s almost impossible that someone, somewhere didn’t come up with an idea that resembled some aspect of the finished movie.
But what’s remarkable is that for the most part, the most memorable and exciting moments in The Last Jedi weren’t even anything to do with the subjects that we’ve been kicking around online for the last couple of years. The gutpunch sequences of Episode VIII were almost all leftfield, creative choices that do credit to the imagination of director Rian Johnson and, frankly, would be nigh impossible to predict.
Now, I love theorising and reading about potential spoilers; it’s all part of the fun to try and work out where a particular story is going.
But there’s a real thrill about being truly blown away by a movie storyline, especially in an online age when it sometimes feels like mainstream popular culture has few surprises left. Once again, Star Wars is showing us all how it’s done.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi will be released in UK cinemas on Thursday 14th December