For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t able to make it opening night of a Star Wars movie. But banquet is when banquet is, so Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker had to wait until early Friday morning. After just a few hours of sleep, I made my way down to the Cannery for a quick Zippy’s breakfast before heading to the 8 o’clock RPX showing at Dole. I hadn’t though much about the movie really, at least not compared to previous entries. While I didn’t hate The Last Jedi, I do feel like that movie derailed a couple of things (Canto Bight? Mary Poppins Leia?). In fact, I really liked the Luke-Rey dynamic of TLJ and found some of the space scene amazing. And while I trust JJ Abrams, you just never know.
All of this to say that I really enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker. And many of the moments that might have rendered things too hokey for me were handled well enough that they didn’t distract.
- We finally got to see the three Rebellion leads in a storyline together. And even though Rey spends a good bit of time on her own, it was always in the context/framework of things said and done with Finn and Poe.
- The use of the late Carrie Fisher one last time as Leia was handled well. I mean, you know it’s repurposed and all, but it flowed much better than I anticipated.
- The locations were great. The visuals at each destination added to the immensity of the story, which is always nice. It was cool seeing the remains of the Death Star in an aquatic locale. Those were some immense ways.
- The movie kept a quick but intentional pace throughout. We’re always dropped in the story in media res, so it was cool to see glimpses of what the primaries had been up to. The search for the Sith device was a decent way of moving things forward, too, without becoming a quest for Infinity Stones or something.
The movie is obviously a call-out to Return of the Jedi, much like every other prequel and sequel seemed to point back to the original three in different ways and at different levels. This didn’t feel too forced for me. And it really did the work to earn the “end of the saga” moniker from the ads.
It’s interesting to watch the online backlash to the movie. Some of the concerns are warranted (Rose’e character wasn’t around nearly as much as she could have been). At the same time, the movie and its predecessors do a decent job embracing certain constraints that are imposed on them because of the over-arching narrative. I felt like this movie handled that tension quite well: give the long-standing story a proper end and then move on from there. I can’t say that I’ll ever watch all nine back-to-back (those prequels are just painful to me), but I do think I’ll revisit the sequels frequently, if only because of easy access and particular scenes (I’m so glad we actually see Rey using the books!).
I didn’t say much about Kylo Ren, I realize. Maybe some day. As always, he gets some great moments. And much like Rey, his arc comes to a satisfying conclusion.
I like the idea of Disney taking a break from cinematic Star Wars. The opportunity for great stories are there, but I think they need some space and time to let things breathe and rest. You’ve got a couple or three seeds sown in this installment that could lead to some interesting adventures. But they should definitely be adventures that maybe grow into another saga. Either way, it will be interesting to see how Disney handles things.
(image from nytimes.com)