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“Ah, Skywalker. Missed you, have I.”

The scene feels so familiar: Luke, impulsive and hot-headed, rushing off to do something he’ll probably regret. Master Yoda, small and mighty and wise, leaning on his staff and chuckling. It’s one of the many moments in Star Wars: The Last Jedi that reminds an audience of why we love this world with all of its rich, amusing, annoying characters.

The Last Jedi feels much like one of those characters: confused at times, occasionally making mistakes, but full of heart and die-hard optimism. And it is this very optimism that’s at stake in this particular chapter of the story. Rey makes a last-ditch attempt to inspire Luke to get off his island and fight while the small band of remaining rebels battle desperately to save their lives and their hope. Forget Stormtroopers and TIE fighters: the real enemy in this far-away galaxy is despair. For with despair comes surrender—something Rey and the rebels repeatedly refuse to do.

So what makes this movie worth watching? Nostalgia, for one. In addition to the amusing Yoda-Luke interaction described above, The Last Jedi is rich with allusions to heroes and days gone by. A climactic lightsaber duel awash in fire and red earth, reminiscent of Anakin and Obi-Wan. A sloppy rogue recruited out of a distant planet’s saloon. Luke, kissing his sister’s forehead: “No one is ever really gone.” A small boy enslaved by a racemaster staring longingly at the horizon under a star-filled sky. Any die-hard Star Wars fan will likely be delighted at every throwback they find.

But The Last Jedi is more than just nostalgia. At its heart, it is a war between hope and fear, love and hate. Cynical apathy battles irrational optimism. Greedy revenge goes up against selfless sacrifice. And beneath it all, running like a common thread in a long and intricate tapestry, lies the power of a good story. To quote Rey: “This galaxy may need a legend.” It’s true for her galaxy, and it’s true for ours too.

This whole Star Wars adventure always was and always will be for the rebels and the optimists, for the strong and hopeful dreamers. The ones you’ll find staring at the stars and holding a broom for a lightsaber. The ones who never stop fighting for what—and whom—they love. The ones who believe in what’s right and believe it fiercely. The ones who are waiting for someone who can turn it all around.

For a galaxy so far away, it sure feels a whole lot like our own. (Disney)

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