Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — The Good, The Bad, and the Why?

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After Multiple Viewings, It’s Finally Time to Break Down Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. 

Before we start this breakdown of Rise of Skywalker, we need a little background. 

There really is a lot to love about this movie if you let yourself forget about canon and what lines up and what doesn’t. First, JJ Abrams is back in charge, and for some fans, that wasn’t the right move, but Star Wars fans are notorious for being unappeasable (I’m the exception that proves the rule). Abrams took a lot of crap from critics after The Force Awakens because he essentially used the same plot as Lucas used in Episode IV. I mean, let’s face it, Starkiller Base was  the Death Star. Hidden plans in a droid. A “nobody” on a desert world who answers the Joseph Campbell call-to-adventure.

Then Rian Johnson came along with a completely new vision. Many people lost their minds. New force powers, Luke dying instead of Leia in the wake of Carrie Fisher’s actual death. A lot of fans were wondering what he was thinking. Hell, even Mark Hamill was pissed about it. In spite of all of that, however, I thought it was refreshing to see a new take on Star Wars. It was also refreshing to have a new Star Wars movie without a string of nostalgic callbacks for a foundation. I love that movie.

However, when the dust settled on The Last Jedi, Disney execs and producers were left scratching their heads. Luke was dead. Leia was still alive, but the iconic actor who played her had died. Supreme Leader Snope was dead. Kylo and Rey were joined by a new force-bond nobody’d ever seen in a Star Wars movie yet, and there didn’t seem to be much of a resistance left. 

That’s what JJ Abrams had to work with when he took the helm again. 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — The Good:

There’s a lot to unpack regarding plot, so we’re not going to go through a summary. Instead, we’ll look at what worked in the movie, what didn’t, and why, through all of that, I still think it’s a worthy conclusion to the Skywalker saga. 

So here’s the awesome:

Rise of Skywalker features some incredibly stunning visuals. JJ Abrams and co. put together a wonderfully dark, yet diverse set of worlds on which to play out this last chapter. Every shot of Exegol astounded me every time I watched it. And the space battles that take place there are some of the best in the franchise for my money. Kijimi also fascinates me, because it gives the audience a glimpse of a world under the full thumb of the First Order.

When it comes to characters, there are also some things to celebrate. First, the connection between Rey and Kylo, along with their actual relationship was an innovative solution. Second, Poe’s character arc is well constructed, and a little less hap-hazard than Han Solo’s was (send the hate in the comments below). He learns from his mistakes in The Last Jedi and becomes the leader the resistance needs. In fact, I actually teared up during his “dark-night-of-the-soul” moment (when he thinks there’s nobody coming to help). Similarly, Chewbacca has some powerful moments, as does C3PO—who, I would argue, is the most consistently annoying character in the series. In fact, this is the first movie in which I’ve actually enjoyed C3PO as a character. 

Finally, it was a bold move to make Rey Palpatine’s granddaughter. We’ll come to the other side of this coin soon, but the idea that Rey is a Palpatine, and that Ben has Skywalker blood is innovative. As is the idea that they are a dyad in the force. After all, the whole point of this saga was that “the chosen one” was supposed to “bring balance to the force.” In Rey and Ben, we find the yin and the yang and we finally get the harmony. 

Okay, Onto the Bad:

If JJ Abrams were a band, he’d be the number one cover band in America. Look, I don’t want to diminish the guy’s career. He’s certainly achieved more in his lifetime than I have in mine, and I respect that. On the other hand, his talent—metaphorically speaking—is playing a cover song so well you could have sworn it was his song to begin with.

We saw it in Episode 7. I outlined that above. He did it with Star Trek. Even Super 8 was an homage to Spielberg. Again, I enjoyed those movies, but they worked because they were stories we already knew with some new makeup on. 

And with Rise of Skywalker we see it again. Okay. We don’t have a Starkiller Base, or a Death Star. Instead we have a seemingly infinite fleet of Star Destroyers, each with it’s own Death-Star-Tech. So the stakes haven’t changed at all. Similarly, we have callbacks to Luke’s training with Rey. Of course, there were myriad other callbacks, but I don’t have enough space to list them all. I wasn’t bothered by these, but I understand if people are. There’s just not a lot of originality.

Finally, while I think making Rey Palpatine’s granddaughter was the right move, they didn’t actually need to bring Palpatine back in order to make it work. They could have easily made him a Sith force-ghost who tries to corrupt Rey’s mind from the inside. In a movie with so many other things going on, that particular bit seemed unnecessary. 

Final Verdict: 4.5/5 Comets

It’s true. JJ did what JJ does. He relied on callbacks and plot similarities to work his magic. Nevertheless, we’re left with a movie that, while I recognize its flaws, still made me shell out over $60 to see it when you factor in theater tickets and the price to buy the digital copy. It’s not perfect, but it very neatly wraps up the Skywalker saga in a way that I think all fans should be able to appreciate. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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