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One of the most endearing characteristics of Star Wars movies is the well written dialog. From characters talking over each other in the haste of a chase, to characters thoughtfully telling bold faced lies, from a certain point of view, Star Wars has relied on double meanings, quips, and for wrong the word order getting — which is anastrophe for those of you who are interested — to create some of the most memorable lines in cinema.

[ Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned. ]

The Rise of Skywalker continues the trend and I would say is the second only to Empire Strikes Back for best dialog.

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Take this sample:
Rey: What happened? No spy?
Poe: No. Spy.

Superbly done. Poe repeats Rey’s two word sentence with two one word sentences and affirms that they did in fact complete their mission to contact the spy. And bravo to Oscar Isaac (Poe) for emphasizing it just right.

Another shining moment for Oscar Isaac was at the very end when he looked at Zorii Bliss — his old partner from his spice running days, played by Keri Russell from The Americans — and first gives her a look of appreciation, then a sexually suggestive expression (denied), and finally an expression of understanding but disappointment. No words were spoken, but that’s still great communication achieved via the writing and acting.

There are numerous other instances of superb dialog:

  • C-3PO: (speaking in the background) This isn’t the afterlife is it? Are droids allowed in? (C-3PO still has PTSD after the Mos Eisley incident.)
  • Poe: Which way?
    Finn: I have no idea. Follow me.
  • Poe: How thick do you think that ice wall is?
    Chewbacca: Howl (translation: WTF?)
  • There were many more, but I need to see it again to make note.

Consistency problems

I know I’m beating a dead Tauntaun here, but pretty much every Star Wars movie has consistency problems with how the Force works and especially how adept one character is using it from one moment to the next.

For instance, Rey is seen floating in air, rocks orbiting around her, while she meditates. She jumps impossible distances while fighting on the Death Star II ruins, but then struggles to climb up a shaft in those same ruins, and almost falls. Couldn’t she just levitate her way up there? Surely if she can float she can, you know, fly. Don’t show a character nonchalantly performing some magnificent feat at one point in a movie, but then be unable to duplicate something like it when under duress.

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Sword fights full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

I hate to say it, but for a movie that relies so heavily on sword (lightsaber) fighting they really are less than impressive. If the art of cinematic sword fighting is something you’re interested in I highly recommend the article below.

Video Essay – How to Film a Good Sword Fight

The fight scenes in Rise of Skywalker are short on choreography and rely over and over on facial expressions that could be best described as “Pretend you’re pooping a brick.”

Story resolution

The resolution wasn’t bad, which for a Star Wars movie is a compliment these days, but it could have been so much better.

So Rey is a Palpatine? Okay, sure. I suppose that works. But unexpectedly bringing the villain from the prequels back felt like pulling a rabbit out of a hat — or something that’s done in a low budget horror movie. Ever since The Force Awakens we’ve all wanted to know where Rey comes from. There were numerous possibilities — long lost daughter of Ben Kenobi is my favorite.

Here’s how they should have done it from the beginning: In The Force Awakens hint at a select number of possibilities. Give the fans something to tease apart. Follow that up with more clues, but nothing definitive, in The Last Jedi, and then resolve it in Rise of Skywalker. JJ Abrams needs to understand that no one is ever impressed with an unexpected ending. I have the feeling that the writer/director J.J. Abrams gets off on people saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming,” like it’s a good thing. What impresses people is an unexpected ending where they think, “Wow, I should have seen that coming, but didn’t.”

Imagine the tension in the scene when Kylo Ren tells Rey who her father is if we had all been sitting there, knowing it had to be one of a few possibilities and then we get it resolved. I’m not sure about you, but I knew it was Palpatine way before the announcement because first, we see in the opening screen crawl that Palpatine is back and, second, in the first five minutes of the movie Leia says to Rey, “Don’t be afraid of who you are.” Well the ONLY option she has to fear is that she’s a Palpatine, so case solved.

You know what else works? Just tell the audience from the beginning who her father is, but let it be a mystery to the character. There’s tension there as well. I half wish the scene had played out like this:

Kylo: You don’t know who your father is, but I do…. (Dramatic pause.) You’re an Abrams.
Rey: Noooooooooo!

Of course Rey kills Palpatine. There’s no drama there because we know that’s going to happen. But first, there’s little satisfaction in the scene because, again, we know what’s going to happen. What works better is letting the villain have a moment to realize that they’re going to die. That it’s all coming to an end. Give the villain that moment, because it’s so satisfying to the audience, not just to see the hero succeed, but to see the villain know they are defeated.

They did this right in Avengers: Endgame. There’s a moment, however brief, that Thanos realizes Tony has defeated him and there’s nothing he can do about it.

I’m not sure what was up with Rey returning to Tatooine to bury the two lightsabers in the sand, but whatever. Undoubtedly it will come up in a later movie when those swords are needed.

And who was that old woman? No one? It could have been a cool moment if Rey’s father had been Obi Wan instead. Then, perhaps, that could have been her mother. A much better ending.

Okay, I’m going to stop now. The more I write about it the less I like the movie, and I started out sorta liking it.

Lesson: don’t think about Star Wars movies too much or it will ruin the experience.

TROOPS – A Star Wars Parody Does COPS

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3 responses to “Movie analysis – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

  1. Nice. I watched the video. I did notice that Rey has a lot of fights that are, “thrust, parry, swing like a bat.” I think Duel of the Fates is so good because Maul’s actor knows how to fight. Didn’t he play Toad in X-Men?

    Great post!! Lol, you can be really funny. I smiled reading all of it.

    One thing I can wank easily: the Force runs on two levels, light and dark. When Rey was floating with rocks, she was meditating, at peace, using the light Force. When she lost concentration, she and the rocks fell. Luke did the same thing in Dagobah, so there is precedent.

    However, it’s easier to access the Force when you use the dark side. It’s easier, unfortunately, to be full of rage and fear, than to be peaceful. Rey often fights w a vicious expression. And she even had a Dark Phoenix/Scarlett Witch moment w Chewbacca’s prison transport. Ooopps.

    As soon as she used that particular power, I knew who she was. And apparently that is a very particular Force power that someone else uses as his default attack.

    1. That Rey has the Force-lightning power is just bullshit. The Force based on genetics is about the lamest lame thing ever.

      1. I just take it as a storytelling shortcut. We only see Palpatine use Force lightning (or did Yoda use it to burn the Ach-To Jedi tree? Don’t remember). It might just be a Dark Side thing. Or just his all-purpose favorite skill, like Harry Potter using Expelliarmus as his signature move.

        Anyway, yes, I’m thinking that was Abrams giving us a big clue and not necessarily just genetics. Maybe we can say it’s a genetic predisposition of that particular use of the Force. It’s not like she used it on purpose.

        I’m not going to call anything bullshit at this point. This is a good movie and there was a lot to accomplish in the 2 and a half hours.

        Yep, probably best not to pick at it too much.

        Even *Empire* – the BEST SW movie – could be picked to pieces. A giant slug living in vacuum on an asteroid? That makes no sense. Why is it there, how does it survive, what’s there to eat, and why do Mynocks live inside?

        Why does Vader make a point of inviting Han and Leia to have lunch at all on Bespin? It’s dramatic, but that probably wouldn’t happen.

        How long was Luke in training on Degobah? It seems like week or months passed, but the timeline with Han and Leia doesn’t work it out that way. It really was just a few days if you try to reconcile the events.

        I could go on, but I don’t want to, because I love Empire. I’m pretty sure Rise of Skywalker is my new number 4th film in the franchise.

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