Lucasfilm/Bad Robot Productions/Walt Disney Studios
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Produced by Kathleen Kennedy/Michelle Rejwan/J.J. Abrams
Screenplay by Chris Terrio/J.J. Abrams
Story by Derek Connolly/Colin Trevorrow/Chris Terrio/J.J. Abrams
Based on characters created by George Lucas
Music by John Williams
Cinematography by Dan Mindel
Edited by Maryann Brandon/Stefan Grube
First off, we need to get one thing straight. If you’ve read all my other STAR WARS reviews then you know how committed I am to STAR WARS. And have been ever since that Summer of ’77. As I’ve said before, I’ve never had a religious experience but seeing STAR WARS for the very first time was thisdamnclose far as I’m concerned.
So I’m just happy to be able to go to the theater every couple of years and see a brand new STAR WARS movie. 40 years later I go to see THE RISE OF SKYWALKER and I simply cannot believe that after all this time I still can have the fun of going to the movies to see STAR WARS.
That’s not to say I was thrilled with THE RISE OF SKYWALKER but we’ll get into that after the opening crawl which sums up the plot of the movie far better than I can and so saves me from having to do my usual obligatory plot summary:
Got it? Good. Now let’s move onto my my main beef with this movie. Because THE RISE OF SKYWALKER pretty much throws away all what I thought were some really daring story choices and characterizations in THE FORCE AWAKENS and THE LAST JEDI and instead settles for just getting this whole Skywalker Saga over with already. Because that’s how a lot of the movie felt to me. It’s as if Abrams & Co. after reading all the Social Media backlash of the previous films just threw up their hands and said; “You know what? If that’s what the fans want then let’s just give it to them and keep it moving, right?”
If THE FORCE AWAKENS was a remake of STAR WARS and THE LAST JEDI a remake of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK then THE RISE OF SKYWALKER definitely is a remake of RETURN OF THE JEDI in that it fails to stick the landing in giving a totally satisfying conclusion to The Sequel Trilogy. Like RETURN OF THE JEDI, THE RISE OF SKYWALKER seems committed to giving us a cringeworthy moment for every stand-up-in-your-seat-throw-your-popcorn-in-the-air-and-cheer event. I really enjoyed seeing Rey (Daisy Ridley) Finn (John Boyega) Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and BB-8 acting as a team for the first time in The Sequel Trilogy zipping around the galaxy in The Millennium Falcon trying to find the location of Exegol, the thrice-damned homeworld of The Sith before Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and a secret armada of Super Star Destroyers can carry out the mandate of a resurrected (seemingly out of nowhere) Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) to destroy The Republic and restore The Empire.
It was never explained to my satisfaction why if Emperor Palpatine had a secret fleet of Super Star Destroyers; each capable of destroying planets own their own then why he wasted years and lives building one Death Star after another. I had a lot of respect for Emperor Palpatine in The Prequel Trilogy as he showed himself to be a galactic chess player with a long-range plan he knew wouldn’t play off for years but in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER he seemed to me to be reduced to a quick fix brought back to satisfy the legions of fans who were extremely vocal in their unhappiness with Snoke and what they perceived as a lack of a origin/backstory for him since they couldn’t just be happy to say that yeah, he’s The Bad Guy and get on with it…
But that’s my opinion. On the whole I had fun with THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. I love Space Opera and until somebody comes along and gives me a better Cinematic Space Opera than the STAR WARS movies I’ll sit back and enjoy all of them. That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have moments I wished I was watching it on my TV so that Patricia could stop me from putting my foot through the screen.
The revelations of Rey’s heritage I consider a betrayal of everything she had been presented to us as being. I liked her better as a Nobody and the concept of The Force as belonging to everybody and not those elite few with entitled bloodlines. I didn’t like how C-3PO was treated by Rey, Finn and Poe for most of the movie. Sure, I understand they don’t have the history with him that Luke, Leia and Han do but even Han didn’t treat C-3PO as dismissively as Rey, Finn and Poe do when the fact that C-3PO’s memory will have be wiped out in order to obtain vital information is presented to them.
The final moments with Leia, Han and Luke brought a lump to my throat as well they should. This will be the last time we’ll see these actors in these roles and it should be commemorated with proper dignity and respect. And I was right there along with everybody else standing and cheering when Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) saved Our Heroes not once but twice.
And like RETURN OF THE JEDI this movie is a whole lot of Punchy-Punchy-Run-Run. It actually got on my nerves hearing Poe and Finn scream; “Come on! Let’s go!” over and over and over. Although I do have to admit that there’s a great sequence which I suspect is a homage to “Where Eagles Dare.” Poe and Finn have to rescue Chewbacca from a Super Star Destroyer and they reach Luke Skywalker/Han Solo levels of daring and courage while bickering back and forth like an old married couple.
By the time you read this you will most likely have seen THE RISE OF SKYWALKER and have your own opinion on it. This is mine: is it a completely satisfying conclusion to The Skywalker Saga? No. But it hit a lot of emotional points that I appreciated. Some I didn’t but I can live with them.
It’s probably the most action-filled, violent and all-over-the-place-in-terms-of-plot STAR WARS movie made so far. But it goes out of its way to give you what you paid your money for; immense spectacle and galactic-sized drama. THE RISE OF SKYWALKER isn’t my favorite of The Sequel Trilogy as I consider it a significant adolescent step back from the mature storytelling of the previous two movies but it’s STAR WARS and that’s good enough for me. I knew what I was going to get when I paid my money to see it and while I was not entirely happy with what J.J. Abrams & Co. gave me, I didn’t feel as if my time or money was wasted.