“The Last Jedi” blasts to the top of the box office as most ambitious Star Wars film to date

Without question, Star Wars has become a colossal and commercial Disney/Holiday experience for the masses. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (released on December 15, 2017), is the third Star Wars film to be released at the peak of the holiday hustle, following Episode VII: The Force Awakens (December 18, 2015), directed by J.J. Abrams, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16, 2016), directed by Gareth Edwards.

Nostalgia is set on overdrive and it’s stimulating fanatics during an already lightspeed season of festive consumerism – The Last Jedi made $109 million on opening night and the newly introduced alien critters (the dopey and adorable Porgs) are sure to make Christmas toy lists this year. In so many ways, the galaxy far far away has become an interstellar cash cow – or cash Bantha, if you’re a super fan –  but Star Wars continues its reign as Hollywood’s most captivating space opera, indefinitely. This saga is and always has been about the light and dark sides of existence, the balance that lives in between them, and what it means to fight for either side.

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One week before Christmas, The Last Jedi blasts into theatres and achieves the second-biggest opening weekend ever with $450 million in ticket sales worldwide and $220 million in ticket sales in North America. J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens holds onto first place (domestically) with $248 million, but this is a major success story for Rian Johnson. This is his first time in the Star Wars’ director chair and it comes after directing only a handful of movies, 2012’s Looper being the most recognizable.

Being the first Star Wars trilogy that Disney has been responsible for since buying the franchise in October 2012, they’re showing no signs of slowing down. This year alone they’ve announced J.J. Abrams’ return to direct Episode IX, another stand-alone movie (à la Rogue One) about a young Han Solo directed by heavyweight Ron Howard, and an entirely new Rian Johnson-directed trilogy coming in the 2020’s; the Force is in the future!

Now, The Last Jedi quite literally picks up where The Force Awakens left off, in the midst of major intergalactic conflict. General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher) of the Resistance sends the prodigal Rey (Daisy Ridley) on a mission to a remote island on an outcast planet to find Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). As we’ve seen before, the galaxy depends on him to help defeat the Dark Side. This time, it’s the sinister First Order, lead by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his apprentice, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, Girls) aka Ben Solo – Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia’s son.

A lot happens while Rey tries to coerce Luke into teaching her the ways of the Jedi. Almost too much. Original Star Wars characters Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Yoda, C3PO and R2D2 join the new kids in the galaxy, Rey, BB8, Kylo Ren, Finn (John Boyega), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o), Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), DJ (Benicio Del Toro) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), in a plot that both radiates the classic players while propelling the new ones.

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It’s no secret that Star Wars has generated a monstrous fan base over the decades. Some would say they’re known to get overjoyed or critical when it comes to new characters. If past reactions to Ewoks, Jar Jar Binx, and Finn (both positive and negative) weren’t proof enough, there are quite a few new characters in The Last Jedi that have divided fans, yet again. Characters like Benicio Del Toro’s DJ and Kelly Marie Trans’ Rose have left some fans confused or upset with a somewhat agreeable lack of character-building argument.

Other characters like Captain Phasma and Supreme Leader Snoke have been said to be wasted and Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo is being called a seat filler, despite her extremely heroic contribution to the Resistance. Disney’s gaggle of new-mixed-with-classic characters, a meteor shower of praise from critics, and a devoted fanbase couldn’t spread the positivity of the Force to everyone. When this new franchise started, Disney said it’s focus was to continue the epic journey that Luke, Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca embarked on; to configure a new generation of Star Wars fans while adhering to the expectations of the original ones. Overall, they’ve accomplished this with shooting stars.

The cinematography, CGI, costume/wardrobe, soundtrack and effects, animatronics (nod to the classics), imaginative new planets and explosive battle scenes were all out of this world! The Last Jedi is worthy of experiencing on the big screen, no doubt. This fictitiously famous galaxy – on a social and political level – parallels our own world. The blockbuster’s story line is one of love and hope in the face of hate and despair; it’s ironic how a movie where the heroes fight for “The Resistance” mirrors our own planet, where those who #RESIST are protesting and fighting against governments and/or movements that thrive on their oppression.

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Visually stimulating and packed with action, The Last Jedi has its fair share of cheesy one-liners,  raw and wistful 70’s grit, and slight disappointments involving some key characters. Last year, after Carrie Fisher passed, fans have been waiting to see the last movie she (as well as Leia) will ever grace us with. How will the galaxy bring Leia’s life to an end? Better yet, how will they ensure her legacy lives on in the galaxy? Fans have mixed emotions with the outcome. It’s emotional watching Carrie in her last portrayal of Leia, but her legacy will last within the light of the galaxy forever.

In all it’s glory, The Last Jedi positions women at the front and centre of the galaxy – they’re making a splash and leaving a memorable mark like never before. Unfortunately, audiences are left with more questions than answers in the end, and many plot theories have been officially laid to rest after events explode like gunfire throughout the 2h 33m of cosmic movie magic. Will The Last Jedi be remembered as one of the best Star Wars movies of all time? Depends who you ask, but it will be remembered as the Star Wars movie that shattered box-office records, brought Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker back to the big screen, featured the very last performance by Carrie Fisher as the legendary Leia, and gave audiences a heartfelt, action-packed, and exciting sequel in the third trilogy of this revolutionary movie series. What more could you ask for?!

May The Force Be With You!

Watch the trailer

As originally posted by Joey Viola for The Buzz
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