“The Force will be with you. Always.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi
“Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!” I write this quote spoken by Princess/General Leia because more and more these days it seems directed at the so-called fans of Star Wars themselves. You know the ones of which I speak. The ones that can’t possibly fathom a film in which their every desire isn’t met. The ones that damn anything and anyone they see as “responsible” for what they deem a failed attempt at telling a proper Star Wars story.
The Empire Strikes Back is widely considered the best installment of them all and yet even then there are those who hate it. My point is that there is no scenario grounded in reality that would result in a “perfect” movie where everyone is happy. But of course these are Star Wars “fans,” destined to shit on everything until the end of time it would seem. Hopeless, all of them. It’s probably best just to find the positives in an imperfect movie and learn to live with it, maybe even enjoy it. What a concept.
Let’s start with the obvious that I just alluded to, The Rise of Skywalker is far from perfect, in fact I would say a second look through by J.J. might have helped it but hindsight is 20/20 as they say and here we are, no longer in the past where everything was still a possibility. So we live with the mistakes and move on, hopefully with our integrity still intact. That said I understand being emotional about these things, I too am a Nerd and I can in no way claim a constant state of calm and collected when it comes to the things I “nerd” over the most.
This movie is a mess at times, skipping along like a drunk at a party who will not remember what they did when they wake up in the morning, hungover and regretful. It’s as if from the moment they started editing they realized how much information they needed to stuff into a two hour runtime and began forcing(pun) in every piece of story they saw as necessary but without concern for coherent scene to scene progression. It’s messy but rarely ever lets up once it gets moving and this is the greatest strength of The Rise of Skywalker, it is seldom stagnant, if ever.
Part of the rush, the demand to fit so much into this supposed last episode of the saga, stems from the misplaced hatred for The Last Jedi and trying to right as many wrongs committed in Episode 8. It’s fan service to the point of being damaging to the integrity of the film as a whole. Luckily, the second half of the story takes over and the film finally finds its footing thrusting forward with a real sense of finality and reverence for the material cherished by so many. To be clear, the entirety of the episode is a lot of fun but it’s in the second half where things become what I would have hoped for the entire film. And this is where I come to my most important point, the willingness to look beyond the mistakes, the shortcomings of the film, will determine if you like this movie and to what degree.
There are those who decided a day after The Last Jedi hit theaters they were going to hate whatever came next, no matter what. Assuming I’m speaking to logically minded folks out there, you were, no matter your feelings toward TLJ, willing to give the next installment a chance to stand on its own. There is a lot to glare at here, to speak poorly of and leave behind out of frustration and quite honestly it’s a fair reaction. I know I’ve been short and unwilling with movies in the past but I stress this is different if for no other reason than its immense presence in pop culture for over forty years now. And it’s the end of a collection of characters and their arcs, some set in motion in 1977, embrace what it is or leave bitter and angry for the next however many years. It is, of course, your choice.
For myself and my ever narrowing point of view I tried to the best of my abilities to keep an open mind and to leave expectations at the door where quite frankly they belong. In doing so, despite everything I’ve stated about why it’s not good for this reason or that, The Rise of Skywalker, for my money, is a damn good time with the greatest of intentions to send this ship off in all its laser ladened glory. In fact by the end credits I was left teary-eyed, feeling a sense of completion and acceptance of what it became rather than what I hoped for it. The final frame is as pure Star Wars as I’ve ever witnessed. In one brilliant moment they harken to a time long since past and to a time far into the future yet to take place with all its possibilities yet to be discovered. I am but one person with thoughts all my own not bound to reality and therefore to expect my every hope to come to fruition for this final chapter is naive at best. I feel like I’m giving a TED talk or something…
My opinion: Rey is fully realized by story’s end, and fully realized not just as a fleshed out character but as an absolute badass. She is confident and doubtful, much like a real person would be with such immense burdens. Finn is finally embracing his position in the resistance making him a major asset against the First Order. Poe becomes the man Leia always knew he could be, asserting himself as a true leader destined for greatness. The villains are formidable with their fangs out and feeling cornered, when an animal is most dangerous. Their heaviest hits reign down on our heroes and it’s a harrowing experience to watch them overcome their greatest obstacles yet.
Characters, good and bad, find their place in the galaxy setting the board for one final battle. Answers are given, revelations unveiled in grand fashion and stories brought to a somber but complete ending worthy of the legend that is Star Wars. Weaknesses aside, The Rise of Skywalker is anything but a complete failure like the press might have you believing right now. In a few days those “fans” I spoke of earlier will get their chance to see it and give nothing but resentment regardless of the outcome. It’s what they do after all. At the end of the day Rise left me satisfied and hopeful for the future of the franchise. Maybe I’m easily pleased… sue me.
I want to clarify something: If you go in with an open mind and end up hating it you are well within your rights to do so, I’m not saying otherwise in anyway. I’m simply giving shit to those who made up their minds long ago, without a fair shake.
Rated PG-13 For: sci-fi violence and action
Runtime: 141 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 4.5/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes. Also, The Last Jedi is a good movie, fight me.
Check out the trailer below:
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