Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker in 4D

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They actually don’t allow you to sit in other people’s laps at these things.

Somehow at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con I scored a free Regal Cinemas 4D movie ticket, handed to me by Dan Fogelberg — Jacob Kowalski himself — from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I decided the best possible use of this golden ticket was a 4D showing of Rise of Skywalker, the finale of the  Skywalker Star Wars Saga. I couldn’t think of a better use of this expensive freebie besides a Fantastic Beasts film (which wouldn’t come out soon before the ticket expired). So, I’m about to see my very first 4D movie excursion right now at the Regal Edwards Cinema in Mira Mesa, CA. (That’s in Northern San Diego.)

Spoilers start for Rise of Skywalker. I have to be specific, or not bother writing it up at all. 

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Welcome to the 4D chamber of delights. Or torture chamber. There’s some overlap.

Okay, I’m back. Here’s what I have to say about the 4D 3D D-Box experience for Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker

Good things, mostly:

The 3D was clear and worked well with the 4D story nods. Worth paying for both together if you’re going to bother with the extra expense.

The vibration feature was effective. This was probably the most effective element in the Rise of Skywalker‘s 4D version.

The wind feature helped set the mood well.

Temperature changes: I felt chilly a few times, but I’m not sure if it was just the wind feature in action. But this is supposed to happen. There probably should have been a few heat scenes during the fights.

Strobe lighting: A few times this worked, but it got distracting after the first few times. Mostly used in lightsaver scenes and anything with Palpatine. I think if you’re an epilectic you’ll want to NOT see Rise of Skywalker in 4D.

The seats rocked and bucked and yawed in tune with the spaceship action. But you stop noticing after a few times, and maybe this could have been done better. Or maybe they didn’t want people vomiting in their chairs. It felt like those old Star Tours rides at Disneyland, but without needing seat belts. I would have preferred more flying action AND seat belts.

Each lightsaber stab gave me an actual poke in the back, in different locations that loosely matched the movie fighting. More or less.

Some water mist on the ruined Death Star scenes were okay. Not enough, though. You are able to turn off the waterworks option on your seat console, so why not do this right for those who wanted it? More was needed. I barely noticed.

Smoke. Although it felt a little gratuitous since this wasn’t really that kind of film.

Scent: Um…a few times I smelt burnt rubber and that was it.

Overrated Things: 

Well, all of it, really, It still felt like they were trying too hard, and the few additions weren’t amazing enough to put me into the action. The effects got gratuitously repetitive, too.  It felt more like, “Oh, hey, they added a thing here. Now stop it.”

Oh, and if you get motion sickness easily, or have other health problems, don’t see RDX 4D motion movies.

There’s a long list of health warnings! 

4D-health-warnings
Look it up online if you’re unsure 4D is healthy for you.

 

Ultimately: should you shell out money for Star Wars in 4D?

Overall: 4D is still a cash grabbing gimmick. It’s fun to do for the occasional film (a RunPee fan told us it’s superb for Ford v Ferrari, and you can feel each gear shift and corner turn), but for Star Wars it was…meh?

I’d wait for the tech to improve before paying $25 for the experience. Do it once at a movie you’re excited about, and see if you’re willing to do it again.

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

Movie Review – Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker (spoiler free)

Star Wars – Death Stars and Planet Killers: Enough Already

Star Wars – Every Force Ghost Voice Cameo in Rise of Skywalker

star wars force ghosts anakin yoda obi-wan
Force Ghost Busting.

Are you a huge Star Wars fan? I think Rise of Skywalker puts me — a die hard science fiction fan — to shame.  Can you place every Force Ghost voice we hear mentally chatting to Rey in the climactic and emotional Skywalker Saga finale?

 Spoilers follow for Rise of Skywalker. This should be obvious. 😉

When Rey asks her Jedi fan club to Be With Her, we finally hear them. It’s great fun to tease out each voice, and some of these callbacks were just thrilling. Who are all these Jedi voice cameos? Could you name them all?

In my first #RoS viewing, the lights came up as soon as the credits rolled, and I missed something crucial: each Force Ghost voice was listed by character and actor in its own section. So I missed that. In my second viewing (in 4D!), I saw this little list scroll by about two minutes after the credits began. It’s not an Extra Scene, but it’s worth waiting for if you want to catch every Force Ghost actor and character name.

Rey and her Force Ghost Voices

Who are the Jedi who finally respond to Rey’s request to “Be with me?” Here’s the list of characters encouraging Rey in Rise of Skywalker:

Luminara Unduli

Ahsoka Tano

Aayla Secura

Mace Windu

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Yoda

Anakin Skywalker

Adi Gallia

Kanan Jarrus

Qui-Gon Jinn

Luke Skywalker

 

I really tried to figure this out on my own from listening during the critical scene, but even if I’d seen every single bit of Star Wars canon that would be kind of rough. I had to make sure to look it all up. About 30 lines go by very fast, almost on top of each other. Tellingly, the messages that stand out the most are from Obi-Wan, Anakin, Yoda, and Luke. If you’re a Skywalker Saga fan, this should come as no surprise.

Anakin’s line is actually the most significant, story-wise, telling Rey to bring about balance in the Force, “as he did.”

(Remember Obi-Wan’s Force Ghost in Return of the Jedi as he cops to his lies to Luke?)

What else stood out:

Both voices for Obi-Wan Kenobi seemed layered over each other (using the same repurposed line from Sir Alec Guinness in the Force Vision in The Force Awakens over lines from Ewan McGregor). This is cleverly done. Instead of telling Rey she’s taking her first steps, Obi-Wan encourages her to take her final steps. Awwww. 

Frank Oz. Duh.

Liam Neeson! Samuel Jackson!

Hayden Christensen, in his best line reading yet.

Carrie Fisher, and finally (of course) Mark Hamill, putting a cap on the Jedi Ghost lineage.

The other voices, especially the female ones, I just could not place on my own. Since I’ve never seen Rebels or The Clone Wars, I figured the extra voices came from those animated — yet canon — materials.

Catching Up with The Clones

This is why I feel like I need to turn in my Geek card. There’s a lot of Star Wars canon I’ve missed. While I’m currently following (and loving) The Mandalorian, I previously turned up my nose at the animated Star Wars: Rebels and The Clone Wars. All sources report excellent stories therein and I’ll watch them eventually.

I also skipped The 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, because it’s so bad even George Lucas hates it. I’m going to catch it soon anyway. There are wonky copies of it on You Tube that pop up quicker than Lucasfilm can tear them down.  I think it’s something like a geek rite of passage to see something so awful that everyone agrees stinks like a family of wet Wookiees.

(Here’s a copy now. OMG, the opening crawl actually calls this Episode IV 1/2. Does this make it canon?)

I look forward to reviewing these previously undiscovered Star Wars stories here on RunPee. Re-watching the Force Ghost scene in Rise of Skywalker will be more meaningful if I know who those other characters were. In the meantime, I’ll try to avoid story spoilers…besides knowing all the characters must be dead (being Force GHOSTS and all).

What Force Ghost voices did you notice and appreciate the most? Discuss Rey’s cathartic #BeWithMe scene in the comments below. 


Star Wars Analysis – What does balance in the Force mean?

I have a bad feeling about this… Who said it in Star Wars and When?

More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine

Star Wars – Death Stars and Planet Killers: Enough Already

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Ominous, menacing, gorgeous. Rogue One has the best use of the Death Star.

Star Wars is stuck in a Death Star rut. Why is Lucasfilm so attached to Planet Killers? A New Hope opened with a super-weapon. They probably felt they had to up the stakes forever after. How many Star Wars movies feature a Death Star — or something like one?

It’s been on my mind since Star Killer Base in The Force Awakens, because being geeky is what I do.

Cruise with me through the galaxy far, far away and gander at the Death Star type weapons used in each film.

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A tragic, truly ugly-cry climax in Rogue One.

Death Star appearances, by production order: (spoilers ahoy through Rise Of Skywalker)

1. A New Hope

I ‘hope’ you remember there’s a Death Star in this movie. In the very first Star Wars film, the Death Star drives the entire plot. Poor Alderaan was exploded to smithereens by it. The climax is dedicated to blowing it up. Is a Death Star just a platform for a really big laser? It’s not exactly explained, but we get some more details in Rogue One.

2.     Return of the Jedi

The plot of the third Star Wars film isn’t all about the Death Star. It’s all about the Death Star II.  😉 But seriously, the Death Star II is bigger and badder than its predecessor, and built in record time. They probably fixed the exhaust port leading to the reactor, but that didn’t matter since the station was unfinished enough to fly into. Other plot things happened (had to have Ewok Time, you know), but vast stretches of story were spent on/fighting around this Planet Killer, or trying to turn off its shields. It’s a trap!

3. Revenge of the Sith

Remember that insectoid race on Geonosis? (The prequels are too plot-thick to explain, so I won’t go there.) Before they evacuated their planet, they’re seen closing a holo of Death Star schematics, taking their data, and caboosing out of there. Yes, the first Death Star took DECADES to make, in-universe.

4. The Force Awakens

Don’t make me laugh. StarKiller Base? It’s just a different kind of Death Star. Apparently this one can take out whole systems in one shot, and the core planets of the New Republic were vaporized. Trillions of voices crying out in terror? I love The Force Awakens, don’t get me wrong, but too many people noticed the lack of originality. They could have used the needle ship that blew up actual stars (from one of the discarded EU novels) if they needed a scarier weapon…but then we couldn’t stage entire set pieces on it.

5. Rogue One

If you watched the Erso family’s story, it’s all about the Death Star. And frankly, this is the single best use of it. While it doesn’t unleash its full destructive capabilities to destroy planets, we see first hand the fear of being targeted by even a fraction it its might. It was glorious and terrifying. This was a solid and very appropriate use of the Planet Killer. It felt novel, in a series already long in the tooth. Rogue One gets the RunPee Award for Best Use of a Star Wars MacGuffin.

6. The Last Jedi

Ha! You thought you were safe here. No Death Stars to be found, right? Wrong. Remember that big canon the First Order dragged across the salty, red-soiled planet of Crait?

Yes. It’s a Death Star weapon without the space station attached. Listen to the dialog. Finn didn’t have a chance in Tartarus destroying it with his attempted suicide run, but I was a sucker for his moment anyway. It was stupid, but he meant to sacrifice himself for a larger cause, and there his arc basically concluded. At the foot, literally, of another (in essence) Death Star.

7. Rise of Skywalker

Whew, getting bored yet? Almost done.

Every set piece on the ruins of Death Star II looked grand. Like the movie or not, you have to admit these were gorgeous scenes: both the fights outside the ruins, and the mental anguish in the old Throne Room sets therein. This would have been fine. A thoughtful coda to the Empire’s obsession with Death Stars.

But then Rise of Skywalker screwed the pooch by magically unleashing an entire fleet of new Star Destroyers, EACH equipped with handy underslung Planet Killer canons. We see it used to explode…what planet was that? Anyway, it seemed like thousands of Death Star equivalent weapons were now casually attached to every Imperial (okay “Final Order”) capital ship.

Just no. No, no. Make it stop! The stakes were already high —  we didn’t need this. The Death Star ground was no longer fertile, salted and scorched by too many retreads. A Dreadnaught/Imperial Destroyer is overpowered enough. Just one is enough to inspire panic (see the cameo appearance in Solo).

If Lucasfilm removed the ships’ canons from Rise of Skywalker, it would have gone a long way towards fixing the movie, which I otherwise (aside from Palpatine) enjoyed. Enough, already.

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Return of the Jedi makes the Death Star II look great. But it’s already a dead horse Lucasfilm never stopped beating.

The Mandalorian, and Death Star Weaponry

I hope the Disney+ series The Mandalorian stays far, far away from Planet Killers. The show happens after Return of the Jedi and before The Force Awakens, so we don’t know what Palpatine is doing right now (he’s busy becoming a Zombie?). So far,The Mandalorian is such a crazy success because it stays away from almost everything told and retold, with just the right amount of Star Wars fanservice. I have faith showrunner Jon Favreau won’t bother with super-weapons. He seems fairly attuned to what Star Wars needs right now to get the fan base back on board.

Can we have a movie about something else now?

So, out of 11 movies, a Death Star appears in seven films. Except for a cameo appearance in Revenge of the Sith, Planet Killers drives the plot. This is so unnecessary and repetitive that I have to wonder two things: 1. why not just stick a Death Star in every movie and call it Death Star Wars? Or 2. aren’t there other stories to tell in a universe otherwise fleshed out so well?

Did I miss an appearance, reference to, or other sighting of a Planet Killer?

I did an entire series rewatch, but wasn’t specifically looking for weapons of mass destruction. Is there another Death Star allusion somewhere? Maybe with some stormtroopers shooting the shit, a passing reference in the Senate, or rebel officers in a throw-away line about a shadowy rumor. Tell me what I missed in the comments below!

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

I have a bad feeling about this… Who said it in Star Wars and When?

Star Wars Analysis – What does balance in the Force mean?

Movie Review – Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker (spoiler free)

Star Wars: millennium falcon, rey, chewy, chewie, poe, finn
Our Gang, 2.0

So. It’s done. After 42 years of buildup, the Star Wars Skywalker saga is over.  I liked it! But I didn’t LOVE it. Which is okay, as all I wanted for Christmas was for Rise of Skywalker to not suck. So I can happily say that Director JJ Abrams did his best to undo the problems he inherited from Director Rian Johnson from The Last Jedi. It’s good, all good: happy beeps only.

No spoilers in this review. I’ll save that for another article: read on, fear-free!

Good, goooooood… (What I liked)

YAY: the characters of Rey, Finn, and Poe had great scenes together, and interacted as a team again, recalling the classic trio of Luke, Han, and Leia. I was happy with the dialog, the humor, the friendships, and how the story used these characters.

Kylo Ren was a bit short-changed, but I liked his scenes when we got them. The split screen saber fights were brilliant. You’ll understand when you see them. What a novel storytelling device.

We had great droid stuff too. Threepio was very funny, and even poignant at one point. Looks like after nine films they figured out how to use the protocol droid properly.

The mystery of Rey? That was fine. It was one of my guesses (although not one I found appealing, just sort of inevitable). We find out about Snoke (another theory I had was right there too). Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship was…well, put to bed. 😉

We find out a lot of things I hoped would be addressed. Whatever plot threads are left dangling (especially where Maz got Luke’s saber, why the lightsaber went to Rey instead of Kylo in TFA, and why the Millennium Falcon was owned by Rey’s caretaker on Jakku) will probably be addressed in the canon novels Lucasfilm churns out. That’s fine. There was a lot of ground to cover in RoS.

Fun cameos that didn’t feel “forced”

There were also some lovely cameos, and the movie paid a tasteful tribute throughout to the late Carrie Fisher. She got first billing in the credits, to which I say: “Awwwww.” Apparently all the scenes with our princess was actually her, with unused footage from The Force Awakens (and likely a body double for some shots). There was one quick de-aged moment with CGI, but I thought it looked good. So no complaints there.

There was also a sweet scene with Chewbacca that was waaaaay overdue. I’ll let you guess this one. Think about it and you’ll probably foresee it. Just…nice.

Seriously, if you keep your eyes open, you’ll find a lot of old characters in blink-and-you-miss-them scenes. I’m thinking the rewatchability factor will be high. Lots of great throw-away lines, too, if you listen.

Moreover, there is a very touching moment during the battle that I won’t spoil for you. Is the Rebellion conquered? Who’s left to fight?

Great set pieces

One thing all three movies in the sequel trilogy did right was with moving, beautiful visuals. To not spoil anything, I’m going to be vague here: there was something on a moon that we instantly recognized, and it looked both menacing and gorgeous.

We also went to some planets we’ve seen before, and you could tell everything was lovingly filmed. In each sequel episode, including The Last Jedi, the visuals are carefully crafted for beauty shots and an impressive sense of nostalgia that didn’t come across as cheap fan-service. The RoS space battle wasn’t bad either, although somehow the best space war was in Return of the Jedi, so long ago.

This happens. The T-1000 Terminator effects in the 90s was somehow better than the brand-new whatever Terminator this year that looked like tar and failed to impress. I don’t understand why old — OLD — movies have better effects than new ones, but I’ll blame laziness, since that’s a nice, easy (and lazy) complaint.

Warning: If you managed to not get spoiled for Rise of Skywalker, don’t watch this teaser trailer about the 9th and final Skywalker Saga film. Just don’t watch anything until you see the film (do a media blackout entirely). There’s a handful of things here that you might prefer to be surprised about: 

Some stuff just didn’t work

The big villain here is a mess. I didn’t need to see that particular character again. Everything with that person is…stupid. Boring. I guess I get where Abrams was going with it — coming full circle — but WHY WHY. Arg. I so want to discuss this here, but I’ll save it for my Spoiler Review. I will add this: the villain’s main henchman was also idiotic. They really need to not add new characters when a series already labors under a huge cast. It was much more fun playing Spot the Cameo. Can you find Wedge Antilles, for example? Keep your eyes open.

Also, the new droid, D-O? Cute and all, but entirely unnecessary. We already have an astromech droid or two (depending on what BB-8 is). All I can conclude is they needed to fill out the marketing quota for ‘ things to put under the Christmas tree’. They can even produce them to scale.

D-O has a few funny lines, but I would have cut the character and focused on the people actors. There was too much to cover in two and a half hours, and introducing newbies wasn’t called for.  Give more time to BB-8 or R2 — they were totally under-served, and it was noticeable. I don’t think those two did much on this outing.

I need to see RoS again. There’s a lot to follow in Rise of Skywalker, and JJ Abrams seemed to squander half of the narrative fixing Rian Johnson’s plot gaffs. Which, honestly, needed to be done.

Um… Dune?

There were also several homages to Dune, and I found those took me out of the story. Does JJ want to make a new Dune trilogy? I’m chill with this, but don’t squish it into my Star Wars, okay? It was weird enough seeing Sandworms in The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies.

(Re: Dune. If I could talk to JJ, I’d ask if it wasn’t enough to continue both Star Wars and Star Trek stories — don’t be greedy. Lots of talented directors out there, ya know…I wonder what Joss Whedon or Taika Waititi would do with Dune.)

And, those planet killing weapons? I’m pretty sick of that. There won’t be anyone to rule if you keep blowing worlds up. How Naboo was occupied in The Phantom Menace seemed more relevant and frightening. What do you think? (Comment section is below.)

Anyway, there are major spoilers in this last trailer…I managed to not watch it until now and was pleasantly surprised by a few things everyone else were spoiled on. So watch this ‘Final Trailer’ at your discretion:

Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker, overall

I’m really not in the mood to complain. I was pleased. Nobody in the audience clapped at the end, which was unusual for Star Wars…but it was a Friday midday showing and the room was mostly empty. I’ve heard other audiences did clap and laugh. I was the only person dressed in proper attire — my Jedi Knight outfit. I even brought a Porg and one of my lightsabers (the one that folds down and fits in a purse — you never know what they won’t let you bring to the theaters these days). A stranger complimented me on my ensemble, and we talked for 45 minutes about Rise of Skywalker and the saga in general. #GeekingOut

I have to digest the movie (and see it again) to really come to terms with how I felt about it, but overall I’m thinking this is the 4th-best film in the franchise. I do grade some franchises on a curve, like the MCU, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. So this one is slightly less good than The Force Awakens, but a world of better than The Last Jedi.

Is this the end?

Will we see these characters again? My guess *today* is no. George Lucas envisioned the story as a nine-part arc, and I’m cool with that. Things wrapped up just fine.

But you never know. Disney might want to cash in on the popularity of Rey, Finn, Poe, and our favorite droids. Stranger things have happened… We’re even getting a new Ghostbusters next summer with the surviving original cast (RIP Harold Ramis). We’re revisiting many old franchises recently: Men in Black, Jumanji, Toy Story, Terminator, Aliens, Avatar, The Matrix, Downton Abbey, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures, and Blade Runner. Among others. Getting butts in seats is the name of the cinema game.

In the meantime, Disney is playing Shuffle the Directors with any new Star Wars stories. So, who knows? I’d like to see a young Lando movie. Donald Glover was simply magnificent in Solo. More of that, please.

I’m grading this movie on a curve within the Star Wars Universe. I can’t help it. I do the same within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and some other franchises. I’m going to update my Star Wars Ranking article soon, and the series will be all slotted neatly, by rewatchability. And then we will achieve a balance in the Force!

PS: I’m going to see Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker in 4D soon. I have a ticket Dan Fogelberg himself gave me during the 2019 San Diego Comic Con (Yes, he’s Jacob from Fantastic Beasts), and I can’t wait to use it on this film. 

Movie Grade: A-

Infographic of every Star Wars movie ranked by fans on IMDb and RottenTomatoes

Star Wars Revealed: Obi-Wan Kenobi is a lying liar who lies

Movie analysis – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Movie analysis – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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.

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.

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.

Star Wars Revealed: Obi-Wan Kenobi is a lying liar who lies

More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine

All Star Wars Movies, ranked by personal watchablility

I have a bad feeling about this… Who said it in Star Wars and When?

All Star Wars Movies, ranked by personal watchablility. Now including Rise of Skywalker

star-wars-movies-ranked-ranking-best-worst
Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewie. And a few droids that aren’t the ones you’re looking for.

What is rewatchability? It means I can put in a movie and watch it all the way through for fun, over and over and over again through the years. (This is different than having a movie on in the background while cleaning house or something…that’s another category). I want something to lift my spirits, which is why a really great movie like Rogue One is not in the top half, for me.

Your mileage may vary, of course. That’s what makes movie lists fun.

Suffice to warn you now, there are Star Wars spoilers ahead!

  1. The Empire Strikes Back easily wins the top placement in the Star Wars franchise. It’s got everything: adventure, humor, romance, exciting space action that still holds up after all this time, and outrageous reveals. I never get tired of watching this film. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen it.
  2. A New Hope runs very closely to the number one spot — clipping its heels, as it were. It started off the whole mythology with a masterful, iconic adventure story. It’s an almost perfect movie that changed science fiction films forever.
  3. The Force Awakens – I wanted to cry with happiness when The Force Awakens premiered. It was Star Wars to me, finally! After decades of slogging through disappointment from the prequels, the joyous universe I first fell for was back. The new characters were fantastic, the humor worked, and everything was oh-so-pretty. I’m an absolute fan. While some say — correctly — that this is a rehash of A New Hope, I see it as a plus. The fun was baked in, and it felt like coming home.
  4. The Rise of Skywalker – Have to be honest here. All I wanted from this movie was not to suck. I wanted my Star Wars Saga to end well. It…it did! I can’t wait to see it again, but I’ll already say this one made me happy. Great humor/chemistry, pretty set pieces. The main thing I missed was a distinctive John Williams score. (After Duel of the Fates,  I can’t remember a single music track or theme. Possibly Williams is “over” Star Wars by now). I didn’t love Rise of Skywalker, but at this point the bar is set so low that I was willing to ignore the plot holes and just let the characters take me away. I liked it a whole helluva lot. We have so much to say about this movie as a team, and we’ll pull it all together as a hub eventually, but for now, YES. This is the 4th best Star Wars film: I am confident  it belongs in this position. (The only thing that potentially brings RoS down is the poor use of some…villain…you’ll know when you see that individual.)
  5. The Last Jedi – I finally saw the extended version of The Last Jedi and I loved it. In fact, now I get to rank it higher than Solo. This is a divisive choice, but TLJ is undeniably pretty, absorbing, and provides a satisfying send-off for Luke. While the “casino” scenes and Poe Dameron mutiny subplots are lacking, the Rey/Luke and Rey/Kylo scenes are, for a better word, outstanding. I can only hope that the final film in the Skywalker series is worth the wait. Also, the extended cut should have been the theatrical version and I think a lot of people would have been much happier with the finished product.
  6. Solo – So sue me: I loved it. A sweet young Han, a sort-of young Chewie (he’s only 190 years old), an adorably charming Lando, and a spotless Millennium Falcon; what’s not to love? It’s a small stakes story that doesn’t bother with a Death Star/Starkiller Base/planet killing weapon (I think this is a first), and while Bad Things Happen, there’s an undeniable sense of joy and fun. Plus, it features the best villain this side of Vader himself. Watch it again, and “Let go, Luke.”
  7. Rogue One – Unlike some of the previous movies, Rogue One was not fun, joyous, or happy. I mean (SPOILERS, again….), everyone dies. Honestly, “I had a bad feeling about this” going in (of course no one makes it — we never see them in the Original Trilogy). The sad part is that I kind of didn’t care. Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, and Rogue One’s ragtag crew…we didn’t get to really know them. This story, however, works almost seamlessly in the Star Wars universe, providing clues that the rebels weren’t as squeaky clean as we’d imagined. Sarcastic, sociopathic K-2SO is the funniest droid we’re likely to see. I also liked the force sensitive “Space Husbands” (Blind Baze and trigger-happy Chirrut). The Vader fight scene at the end, the desperate pass-off of the data tape — the lead-in to A New Hope — worth the price of admission, right there.  The Death Star destruction sequences were extremely compelling, making that weapon truly personal and frightening in a way the other movies didn’t.
  8. Return of the Jedi – I wish I could place this higher. The opening rescue of Han from Jabba’s palace is pure gold. After that, it goes downhill fast. Han becomes an anti-version of himself; Leia is pensive and moody; Luke is inscrutable (and not in a intriguing way). It doesn’t really work, and the Ewoks still piss me off. The jokes are stale, the action sequences middling…but it’s still better than the prequels. Damning with faint praise?
  9. Phantom Menace – Many people probably rank this one last, saying it “ruined” Star Wars. I myself was hugely disappointed with this when it came out. Over the years, though, it’s taken on a nicer sheen. I love Qui-Gon; young Obi-Won was perfect, and there are some amazing set pieces. The Pod Race scene is great, Naboo is beautiful, the Padme/Queen storyline was compelling, and the Duel of the Fates climax with Darth Maul is the best lightsaber fight in the entire saga. As for the hated Jar Jar, the terrible Midiclorians, and that poor Anakin kid with the terrible Yippee lines: I learned to ignore them, and just watch the moments that had the right feel for the SW Universe. It’s a really pretty movie, and Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon is the best Jedi we see throughout the series.
  10. Revenge of the Sith – I honestly don’t remember much about this entire film. Maybe that’s a good thing. I never put it on re-watch. It played like a war documentary…and only felt like Star Wars in the last half hour. But it was a great last half hour, with the long-awaited payoff on the lava planet (Okay, good except for the wretched”Nooooooooo,” after “Where’s Padme?”). And the dying from sorrow bit? It doesn’t work that way. I think a lot of people felt RotS made the prequels better. I really don’t think they’re fixable. But then, I grew up with the Classic movies, so I’m just an old fart you can safely ignore. 🙂
  11. Attack of the Clones – This one is mostly dreck. I like the arena fight scene — great set-piece — and the stuff on Camino (the water planet). Coruscant is neat, and the early scenes of fighting on the flying cars — pretty darn cool. But the entire romance was bad. Simply, plainly bad. Bad like sand! I don’t get why Padme is interested in this whiny child. Who is Dooku, again? What is the plot about? There are clones, there are trade negotiations, and a whole lot of nothing.

I know everyone’s list will be different. Ultimately, any Star Wars is better than most sci-fi out there. Feel free to discuss The Mandalorian, which is superior Star Wars, but ain’t a film, and is on-going, so I can’t in conscience list it here. 

I have a bad feeling about this…

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Here’s the list of all 11 Star Wars movies (in production order) if you want to copy/paste/rearrange into a comment below, to add your own rankings.

A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith
The Force Awakens
Rogue One
The Last Jedi
Solo
Rise of Skywalker