With a week left for the grand landing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, fans of the never-ending space opera can expect many thrills: a final glimpse of Princess Leia ( Carrie Fisher died before the release), Luke Skywalker’s encounter with Rey, Kylo Ren’s inexorable embrace of his dark side.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).

Directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Breaking Bad), The Last Jedi is the second film in the latest Star Wars trilogy after The Force Awakens (2015). The December 15 release picks up where its predecessor left off: Rey (Daisy Ridley), the Jakku scavenger who has Jedi powers, finally meets the fabled Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and sets off on a journey of self-realisation, which includes combating Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Daisy Ridley as Rey and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

It is easy to predict the new movie’s most compelling scene for fans: the encounter between Rey and the self-exiled Skywalker. Their meeting may unearth the truth behind Rey’s lineage and her strange attraction towards the Force.

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

Several cast members from The Force Awakens return for the new film: Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o).

Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

The Force Awakens, directed by JJ Abrams, masterfully introduced a host of new characters while keeping intact the basic elements of the franchise kickstarted by George Lucas in 1977. These involve new robots and mechanised creatures, such as the adorable droid BB-8 in The Force Awakens and the AT-M6 walkers in the new movie.

AT-M6 walkers, along with Kylo's shuttle. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

The 2015 production’s scene-stealer was undoubtedly Ben “Kylo” Ren, the son of the estranged couple Leia and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) who grows up idolising his grandfather Darth Vader. Once a student of Luke Skywalker, Ren succumbs to the Dark Side and is seduced by the Supreme Leader Snoke.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

Finn is another great find. A reluctant stormtrooper for the First Order, Finn breaks free from his shackles and joins the resistance. In the new movie, Finn’s enemies include his former First Order comrades and Captain Phasma, who was unceremoniously thrown into a trash compactor in the previous film.

John Boyega as Finn battling Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

Finn also has company, which gives the production the opportunity to cast multi-racial characters: Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran). Do we smell a love triangle between Rey, Finn and Rose?

Kelly Marie Tran as Rose and John Boyega as Finn. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

Fresh additions to the cast include new heroes and villains. Laura Dern stars as Amilyn Holdo, an acquaintance of Princess Leia, who joins forces with the Resistance to battle the First Order.

Laura Dern as Amilyn Holdo. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

Benicio del Toro plays the mysterious DJ who crosses paths with Finn. “This character could come straight out of a Bob Dylan or Tom Waites song, or even a Dostoyevsky novel,” del Toro said about his character in an interview with Collider. “He’s like something out of Dickens; there have been characters like him in all kinds of literature.”

Benicio del Toro as DJ. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

Star Wars has never been lacking in fuzzy creatures. The fan favourite Chewbacca is back to steer the Falcon spaceship, this time with a bug-eyed Porg for company.

Chewbacca with a Porg. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

Apart from the penguin-like Porgs, there are also all-female and very cuddly caretakers, who can be found at Skywalker’s exile location, planet Ahch-To.

The Caretakers. Courtesy Lucasfilm.

One of the themes of The Last Jedi is new beginnings while healing old wounds. “There is more tying to things about the past,” Daisy Ridley told Rolling Stone in an interview. “There really wasn’t that much tying in Force Awakens, because we were literally on a physical adventure, but I love knowing where we’re going and why people are making the choices they are making. Which again are totally influenced by the past.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Courtesy Lucasfilm.