Spoilers ahead for Rise of Skywalker!
As of this second, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. Episode IX. Are they still actually numbering them? I don’t know…
That’s really it… I don’t know… I DON’T know…_
I’ll start with something easy. This was leaps and bounds better than The Last Jedi. But I don’t think that’s a very great standard to compare against.
Where The Last Jedi was like an extended version of the title crawl, through the whole movie, The Rise of Skywalker moves too fast. The team has sooooo much to do and so little time to do it.
Imagine if Avengers Endgame didn’t have 3 hours to give us the relief of seeing Thanos brought to justice. Bring us up to speed on the 5 year time gap. The hope in the form of quantum realm time travel. The hops through time for each heroes’ missions, and the final battle with the fan service and story telling we needed.
If Avengers had to do all the same things, with 40 minutes less… I don’t think it would have worked.
That’s how this final installment of the Skywalker Saga felt.
Emperor Palpatine was wasted as a character. Glimpsed early on with some important story. But absent, except as a threat, until the end of the film.
The First Order’s Supreme Leader is Kylo Ren. But his role makes no sense based on the past bad guys to hold that type of role. Palpatine and Snoke.
While they were very uninvolved and more the “man behind the curtain”, Kylo is a very “on the ground” or “frontlines” type. That DOES make sense for Kylo based on what he really is. A warrior. There is a character that acts like the man behind the curtain, or a Grand Moff Tarkin type, and this leads to the feeling that Kylo isn’t really in charge. But not in the same way as the power struggle between Kylo and Hux in VII and VIII.
Rey. She earns some of her role as the last Jedi, finally, in this movie. But she is still very much over-powered. Things are not explained. Like why every Jedi lives within her. She has a new Jedi instructor. It’s something that comes very much out of left-field because there has been very, VERY little set up for it based on what was shown later in this movie. This surprise just hasn’t been well planned.
Rewind to The Last Jedi really quick. When Kylo hesitates and the storm troopers blow up the bridge of the ship with Leia on board, and she seems gone, only to use the Force and pull herself back from death and the vacuum of space. At least we had the knowledge that she is a Skywalker and that she is Force-sensitive, from her directing Lando to rescue Luke back in Empire Strikes Back. We had some set-up that she could use the Force. So that little bit of Force magic used to save her own life is something we can accept.<
More Issues to Unsnarl
Back to this new movie. Suddenly there is another person that learned from Luke and can teach Rey. But didn’t offer to back when Luke was MIA… The backstory that we need for this to make sense is finally given to us later in this movie. It is both an “Oh! THAT’S how this person knows enough to train Rey,” and a “Why did you need to do that?! Luke’s Force ghost could still train her in the ways of the Force!”
Kylo and Rey… Its seems to me that the only planning for the trilogy was that these two would have a conflicted love story. His interest in her started with her ability to block his mind reading. And he became obsessed with her from then on. Jealousy over Luke’s/Anakin’s lightsaber. (Don’t even get me started on this plothole/retcon. How is it somehow a working weapon, in one piece, after the events of The Last Jedi?!?!)… Her seemingly unearned skill with the Force. Then their Snoke influenced connections during TLJ. They were being pushed together, culminating in Kylo offering Rey to rule by his side.
Let’s face it. He wanted to carry on the Skywalker line with her.
New Force Powers
There is more of that here. But suddenly there are new Force powers influencing their — previously — Snoke-influenced connections. There is even a Romeo and Juliet end scene type of moment with them.
I’ve gotta be honest. There are jokes and memes about random movies and characters being a better love story than Twilight. I think we’ve finally found a love story that is worse than Twilight. Just my opinion, of course…
There is one “new” Force power that can be kind of accepted easily. “Kind of,” because Star Wars fans have only been teased with the idea of it once before. So, it existed before all of this. But suddenly it is very real and is being used a few times.
The Big Twist
To me it didn’t come off as big a shock, as we are certainly meant for it to be. They hint at it in an earlier scene of the movie, which is why i wasn’t surprised. But really, the very obvious hint could have been misleading. It’s a new Force power for this character, but one we’ve seen used by at least two other Star Wars characters. So the revelation could have gone either way. The twist is, of course, Rey’s lineage. We learn who her family is, even if we don’t learn where they’ve been before all this.
Feelings throughout the movie: the movie moved so fast that there were only a few chances for real emotion throughout. There were some good laughs out of the droids and a new character. A short sequence from the main team. Then there were three scenes that tugged on the heart strings. One of them was fully expected due to real life circumstances. Most of us know what happened shortly before The Last Jedi released and knew Leia would be leaving us, because there was no other choice. Its really remarkable just how much this character was in this movie.
The other scenes involve one of the strongest characters in the series. The second of this character’s scenes really show us a side we’ve never seen before. It’s a gut punch, and just like the first of this character’s big scenes, because of the pace of the movie, it’s over too fast.
There is one big battle in the movie. As there needed to be. But in a lot of ways it made little sense. The battle kind of dragged on, while the big characters had their slow plot dump scenes.
The Knights of Ren, much like the Emperor, were wasted. We didn’t get to see them in action the way they deserved with their status among The First Order. The only real fight we saw with them was pretty much like Hela’s arrival on Asgard in Thor Ragnarok. And I’m not saying that they were Hela in this fight… I’m also not saying that Rey was Hela in this fight…
The film closes where the saga began back in the 70s. We get some quick nostalgia, and a reveal for the reason of the title of the movie. There was a bit of a cheesy heartfelt, yet weird, expected moment at the end.
Since I kind of have to boil it down… I’m kind of just “meh” about this movie. Somewhere between a C+ and a B-.
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Christopher Estrada is an aspiring writer and photographer, born and raised in the Inland Empire of Southern California. He enjoys many genres of film entertainment, the majority being; Action, SciFi, Comics and Novel adaptations, and the occasional comedy. Follow Chris on Instagram @CR3_Chris.