The Force is Strong – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker renews belief in The Force

After 42 years, the 9th Episode of Star Wars will conclude one of the grandest stories ever told in cinema. There will be more films, and probably more trilogies down the line, but the main 9 Episodes, on what is considered the Skywalker Saga, will be told in full. Regardless of where you may currently stand with the franchise, you know this is a momentous occasion. I was lucky enough to see the film early and I am more than ecstatic to watch it again opening night. So, spoilers for my Star Wars Rise of Skywalker review, I liked it.

*I also enjoyed The Last Jedi, but more so because I loved the entitled fan outrage and I thoroughly like the idea of wiping the slate clean for the new generation of Star Wars. However, I understand and can go deep into the issues and concerns with the methods there. But we’re here to talk about Rise of Skywalker, so let’s get into it.

J.J. Abrams joins Lucasfilm and Disney once again brings us the final word in the Skywalker story. Abrams had a daunting, and almost impossible task, with this film. There was the immense disdain from The Last Jedi, the loss of Carrie Fisher who was always intended to play a prominent role in this third film, and just the task of providing a strong conclusion to another era of one of the world’s biggest franchises. Few would want this kind of pressure, few would attempt it, and I honestly don’t think there is anything else who could have pulled it off. Though it will undoubtedly not please everyone, and there were obvious decisions made to meet demands and appease the masses, I believe Abrams did an incredible job.

The cast was in spectacular form, and undoubtedly at their best as their characters in The Rise of Skywalker. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is at his peak in every sense of the word. This is the first of the films where I enjoyed  Ren as a character. In the first film, he seemed way too “spoiled rich kid” for me, which really continued on in the second. Also, the previous films did nothing to show how powerful or capable he is with the force. There were glimpses, like when he stopped the blaster shot in mid-air, and took a bowcaster hit and kept fighting, but that requires a bit of deep knowledge and attention to detail to truly grasp. In comparison to other episodes, he always seemed to pale in comparison with a lightsaber and just had a few handy force tricks. His mastery of the force and skills with the lightsaber are instantly established with his first scene in The Rise of Skywalker and it is viciously obvious he is a master of the force.

On the other side (of the force) is Daisy Ridley. Who has always been a strong character and performer throughout the franchise, but this time is given proper build-up to everything. A big issue with The Force Awakens was her immediate abilities with a lightsaber. Well, her immediate ability to match Ren. Again, if you do immense connecting of dots, you can kind of justify it, but also it kind of spits in the widely established difficulty of wielding one of the coolest weapons ever thought of. Her adeptness with the force, well that’s very here and there, but at least falls in line with what’s been established. Anyway, in The Rise of Skywalker, Ridley’s Rey is given proper exposition and backstory, and her mastery of the force is established, through a nice bit of exposition and training sequence. Her dramatic scenes are also well performed. There’s a scene where Rey messes up, and I truly believed she messed up. It was a tragic scene, and it felt like a punch to the gut. Her combative friendship was Poe is also a high point, as it is a real joy to see two headstrong characters go at it both directly pointing out each other’s shortcomings while still trying to maintain their composure.

John Boyega and Oscar Isaac have an incredible bromance that shines through their characters. They have a shorthand between them that, I am unsure to attribute to the writing, their acting ability, or they’re real-life relationship. I like to believe it’s a magical combination of the three that creates one of the best pairings in the franchise’s history. As amazing as they are as a pair, individually there have been major developments for both. Poe is now second in command behind General Leia and Finn has come into a full realization of himself and fully committed to the resistance. Boyega’s performance is great, and you can really sense how far Finn as developed in the way Boyega carries himself in this film. There is still some of that jittery-ness that made the character endearing, but that cut and run characteristic have been grown out of. Isaac’s Poe, I feel, has been the most established character from the get-go. I say the character hasn’t changed much, but Isaac has fully embodied this character and has mastered saying things with a look. As great as a lot of Poe’s lines are, this time around, he says the most when he says nothing at all.

Carrie Fisher, in her limited scenes, was felt throughout the film. Without giving away too much, that she herself is not in, but her presence is undoubtedly felt both as Leia and as Carrie Fisher. It is a meta moment that is, while tragic, heartwarming and beautiful. I teared up and had to clear my throat. I’m not sure how, but they really did make things work. C3Po, Chewbacca, and Lando, also have some major moments, and I feel they are given proper final performances (if this is their last performances). If it is, they definitely go out on high notes. R2 and BB8 play their smallest rolls yet, and the new droid D-0 can talk English. I will talk more about that in a bit. But basically every other character, especially Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico, doesn’t get much to do in this film.

I don’t want to give away anything about Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine, so I’ll just say he performs his part spectacularly like he always has. However, big or small that role is.

My The Rise of Skywalker review is largely airing on the positive side. I feel this the strongest of this trilogy, and while a lot of that has to do with the performers fully inhabiting their roles, I want to say it’s mostly because the major characters are finally all together. The chemistry of Ridley, Boyega, and Isaac, is magnificent. They have fluid, dynamic shifts that apply not only to character focus, but roles, emotions, tensions, and more. Having them together really makes the movie. It is really a crime, and something I feel was a mistake, to keep the three of them apart for so long. I believe that is a major factor that is missing from Episodes 7 & 8, and after watching 9, I’m sure many of you will also feel like you’ve been robbed.

The Rise of Skywalker undoubtedly has some of the highest points in the trilogy and the franchise, but it is not without its valleys.  And I don’t think I can do a The Rise of Skywalker review without focusing on a lot of critiques brought on by the film’s predecessor. There are many obvious choices made to address those critiques. I don’t want to say what they are for fear of giving away anything in the movie. I will say Abrams does a great job of filling the hole dug by The Last Jedi, but doesn’t get far above it because so much effort was obviously directed at filling said hole. Without being specific, and focusing too much on the negatives, a big problem for me in this film was there is a lot of undercutting. You will get a massively emotional scene, that is undercut by a throwaway event not long after. It feels manipulative. Then there’s set up for stuff that gets referenced a few times and goes nowhere. Then there’s D-O, who I feel is a narrative device to tell the audience the mood of the scene. It serves as a laugh, but again, it undercuts the scene. Also, there are times where it seems where things are trying too funny, and it feels like pandering. My last critique, there is a lot of sexual tension that feels very out of place. I mean I know big events can cause a stir of emotions, but it started to feel uncomfortable. It feels like they avoided having it be present throughout the whole movie, and decided to just have it all at once, which made it seem a little much. In their defense though, one of those charged moments involved Billy Dee Williams/Lando, and I don’t think he can turn off that swag.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker closes out another era of trilogies strong. I don’t believe it is possible to satisfy most of the fandom, as I think is the nature of the franchise since the prequel trilogy, but I think Abrams and the team have gotten as close to that goal as possible. They faced numerous challenges, but came together and created a fun, emotional, and incredibly crafted film. I didn’t touch much on the visual effects, but they are undoubtedly at their best. As are all the characters and the performers. This trilogy has had its ebbs and flows, but I do say that with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker the Star Wars franchise is strong with the force. The Rise of Skywalker will awe audiences with it’s beautifully crafted grandeur, laugh with Poe’s masterfully expressions, and cry with its dramatic story that transcends the script. Star Wars fans will live the movie’s words and realize there are more of us than them. My Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker review gets a 3.5/5

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens December 20th, get your tickets now.

 

 

 

 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review
3.5

TLDR

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker closes out another era of trilogies strong. I don’t believe it is possible to satisfy most of the fandom, as I think is the nature of the franchise since the prequel trilogy, but I think Abrams and the team have gotten as close to that goal as possible. They faced numerous challenges, but came together and created a fun, emotional, and incredibly crafted film. I didn’t touch much on the visual effects, but they are undoubtedly at their best. As are all the characters and the performers. This trilogy has had its ebbs and flows, but I do say that with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker the Star Wars franchise is strong with the force. The Rise of Skywalker will awe audiences with it’s beautifully crafted grandeur, laugh with Poe’s masterfully expressions, and cry with its dramatic story that transcends the script. Star Wars fans will live the movie’s words and realize there are more of us than them.

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