In part 1 of my review of the latest Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker, I gave my overall thoughts of the movie, by I could only share so much without spoiling the movie. Well, we’re throwing that out of the window today. I’ll break down the good, the bad, and the… iffy.
-The opening scene after the title crawl has Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, A Marriage Story) cutting through random forest along with our first real appearance of The Knights of Ren, on their quest to find the triangular-looking treasure map thing known as the Sith Wayfinder.
-The training sequence with Rey (Daisy Ridley, Murder On The Orient Express) which is beautifully shot and convey how much sharper her skills as a Jedi force user have become since the events of The Last Jedi. Also, hearing John Williams’ score play hints of the character’s main theme doesn’t hurt either.
-All of the action sequences were off the chain! The speeder chase sequence was amazing, the lightsaber duels between Kylo and Rey were pretty stellar (J.J. Abrams has been continuing the trend of “lightsaber dueling in the midst of the elements” that ol’ George Lucas started back in Revenge of the Sith). Not to mention, the biggest and best space battle I’ve seen since… well… Star Trek: First Contact (a whole different franchise, I know, but still…)
-Most of the fan service in this movie worked for me (we’ll talk later about the fan service that didn’t), namely, another appearance of Darth Vader’s melted mask, the wreckage of Death Star II in the waters of Kef Bir, Lando’s (Billy Dee Williams, The Empire Strikes Back) entire subplot, and Luke (Mark Hamill) and Leia’s (Carrie Fisher) Force training flashback. Oh yeah, and Force ghost Luke levitating his old X-Wing fighter.
-Solid character development for Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac, X-Men: Apocalypse, Deus Ex Machina) and even better for the relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey, with their fates being sealed with a kiss, so to speak.
-Given the old footage that the production crew had to work with, the posthumous addition of Carrie Fisher as Leia actually looked pretty well-done.
-After 42 years, Chewie got a medal. Granted it was at the expense of the passing away of General Leia, but still: HE FINALLY GOT A FUCKING MEDAL!
-New(ish) force powers introduced. Force heal? I’m down for it. Force energy drain? Awesome.
-Speaking of people who love the concept of Force energy drain, let’s talked about the wrinkly, lightning-fingered elephant in the room: PALPATINE.
Him being the big bad and essential to the entire plot, only tells me that The Rise of Skywalker should have been two films. It was obvious that J.J. Abrams decided to use the ol’ Emperor (played by Ian McDiarmid) due to Supreme Leader Snoke being killed in the previous film. Palpatine’s return has brought us more questions with no answers, like, how did he get all of those ships with the planet-killing cannons built? Why did he wait until this movie to strike? Did he really “create” Snoke? Quite frankly, I don’t feel like playing a game of “fill in the blanks”.
-From one Palpatine to another, making Rey the granddaughter of said Sith lord, undermines the central concept I loved about he character… you know, the idea of her being force-sensitive without coming any particular bloodline. The idea of the Force as a spectrum, which was subtly introduced in The Last Jedi. Instead, of her parents being “nobody”, as Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo says, her father is actually Palpatine’s son. BTW, who in the hell actually “clapped cheeks” with his decrepit ass?
-J.J. Abrams all but confirmed in the press leading up to the release, that he would not roll back anything Rian Johnson established in The Last Jedi. Unless you somehow saw a different movie than me, you saw that he almost completely rolled back everything with the exception of Luke and Snoke’s death… and the reference of “the Holdo Maneuver” scene from the previous film. Basically, the rest of the events of that movie carry absolutely no weight which brings us to…
The Rose Tico Disposition
When the credits rolled for The Last Jedi two years ago, it looked as though Finn and Rose were at the beginnings of a romance, however, The Rise of Skywalker throws that completely out the window, without any explanation. I wish that was expanded upon instead of bringing Finn (John Boyega, Attack the Block, Detroit) back to pining after Rey.
Now where does this leave Rose? Apparently, a minute and a half of screen time. I get that J.J. and company might have possibly kept Kelly Marie Tran off screen a bit more to appease the toxic fanboys that bullied her online, on top cutting her scenes for time (although my guess leans more toward the first scenario). Chris Terrio, one of the writers of the film, spoke to the news outlet Awards Daily about how the rest of Rose’s scenes were cut because a lot of them had old Carrie Fisher footage that just didn’t blend well. He clarified these statements in Vulture.com interview:
“I badly misspoke if in an earlier statement I implied that any cut scenes between Rose and Leia were the fault of our VFX team and the wizards at ILM. In that earlier interview, I was referring to a specific scene in which Leia’s emotional state in Episode VII did not seem to match the scene we wrote for use in Episode IX, and so it was cut at the script stage before the VFX work was done. If we had chosen to use the scene, ILM would have made it look perfect. They always do. ILM performed actual miracles at every stage of the creative process in Episode IX. I remain in awe of their work.”
All of what the writer mention may very well be true, but given how substantial her role was in the last movie, Kelly deserves better… much better.
Who Was That Again?
The new characters (outside of tiny little Babu Frik) Zori Bliss (Keri Russell, The Americans) and Jahnnah (Naomi Ackie, Lady MacBeth, Yardie). Outside of being brief props for Finn and Poe, what the hell was the purpose of those characters even being in the movie? Yet, another issue that could’ve been solved by splitting the film in two parts.
In hindsight, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a nostalgic, thrilling, but hasty end of an era of a franchise that centered on the most famous family in science fiction. Though the film has its flaws, those flaws did not deter my enjoyment of the film in the slightest. As the book closes on the story of Skywalker and the old guard of Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian and the rest have gone away, now should be the time for Lucasfilm to move Star Wars forward. To make it evolve while covering new territory away from that famous family name, and away from trilogies. Hopefully, we’ll get to explore brand new corners of this galaxy far, far away.
photo cred: Disney