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I’m going to spend a little bit of time here creating a buffer so that people who don’t want spoilers don’t need spoilers for the Rise of Skywalker.
So, without any spoilers, the Rise of Skywalker is the 9th Star Wars film. George Lucas had originally planned on doing nine films in the 1980’s and had it plotted out, but due to the stress of making the original trilogy and the following that he had, he held off for a long time, until he made The Phantom Menace and then Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, which were not that well received. He then later sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney who with JJ Abram at the helm for the first film, The Force Awakens, started a new trilogy.
Now that we have a proper spoiler buffer, let’s talk about Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. This, like I said, is the ninth film in the Skywalker Saga, and the end of the Skywalker Saga (theoretically). After The Last Jedi, which was half of a good film and some other characters being taken in a direction that they weren’t set-up for in The Force Awakens, JJ Abrams came back in to wrap up the story that he had laid out for Rian Johnson, which had then been promptly thrown away. Abrams then had to try and cut down and cram what he had laid out previously into a single film. That might sound like a bad thing, but I think that it worked for this film.
In the Rise of Skywalker, we start out by getting a pretty heavy information dump about how the Emperor has been broadcasting his return from somewhere deep in space. Kylo Ren, with the First Order, has been trying to track down this signal, but they need an old Sith map to be able to do so. Finding one, he goes to the Emperor. In the mean time, Finn, Poe, and Chewbacca chasing down leads to the First Orders plans and what is happening with their search for the Emperor and plans for domination. Rey is back with the resistance training to become a Jedi. She leaves her training when they get wind that Kylo has found the Emperor, and they go searching for a map of their own. This leads them into a handful of adventures where they run across someone who Poe used to run with and run spice with and they end up wiping out C3PO’s memory in order to translate where the map is hidden. Rey, during this time, becomes more and more obsessed with finding and defeating the Emperor. This leads to her going to a moon of Endor where they come across more Stormtroopers who have rebelled against the First Order. Meanwhile, Kylo is able to track down Rey and they fight on the destroyed Death Star with Kylo getting the upper hand on Rey, but then Leia, feeling the anger and disturbance from her son, used the last of her energy to stop Kylo. In a fit of rage, Rey strikes Kylo who has lowered all defenses and dropped his lightsaber, realizing, though that her anger has taken over, she uses the force to heal him. She runs away, in Kylo’s ship, to the planet where Luke had hid away, and there, meeting the force ghost of Luke, he convinces her that she needs to go and confront her grandfather, Palpatine. The rest of the resistance tracks her flying through a gravitational field, which is why the map was needed and goes to aid her. However, things look bleak until Lando Calrissian manages to gather up the support of people who are willing to stand up to the First Order and they join the fight. During this time, Kylo (Ben), sees a vision of Han Solo who talks to him and gets him to give up his lightsaber, returning back to being Ben Solo. He flies to the Emperor and joins Rey as they stand against the Emperor’s plan to return. The Emperor again gets the upper hand, but what Rey wasn’t able to do in her training earlier in the film, connect with the spirit of the Jedi, she was able to do in that moment and with the power of them behind her, she is able to get back up and defeat the Emperor. There is much celebrating, and Rey goes and leaves both Luke and Leia’s lightsabers back at the moisture farm (what’s left of it) where Luke grew up.
There’s just a little bit of story there, and I normally wouldn’t write out the whole thing, but this is a spoiler episode and I wanted to demonstrate how much was packed into this movie. Now, do I think that it probably would have been better split into two movies and we just lose The Last Jedi? Probably, but does that make Rise of Skywalker a bad movie? I don’t think so. I really enjoyed it in the theater and I thought that it did a good job of wrapping up the Skywalker Saga. Before going to see the movie, my hope was that it was going to wrap up the Skywalker Saga and then we wouldn’t have any more movies with Rey, Finn, Poe or Kylo. And I feel like it did that, now if Disney decides it was popular enough with those characters, they might bring them back again, but I personally don’t want it. With have a massive world, and with the great work that the Mandalorian has been doing, there is clearly room for stories that aren’t focused only around the Empire and the Skywalkers.
For me, one of the things that this film does impressively is wrap up the storylines for the original trilogy characters. We get more of a send off for Han Solo and he gets to deliver a famous line in a meaningful way. We get another send off for Luke. And we get, kind of, a send off for Leia. I feel like hers was the most lacking, which makes sense with Carrie Fishers passing. Her passing in the film is really the start of a turning point for both Kylo and Rey, and then Han and Luke, respectively, finish bringing both of the characters back around.
What might bother some people about this film, and I hinted at it in the paragraph above, with Han delivering a famous line, but there is a feeling to this film that it’s kind of a Star Wars greatest hits. We get lines, we get callbacks, Chewie finally gets his medal. This will definitely be an issue for some people who don’t know what they want, probably just to watch the original trilogy and repeat, but for me, it was what I was looking for when wrapping up the Skywalker Saga. It gave the main characters a send off that they needed and it kind of showed that the story has always been about them, even with the new cast of characters, it was still about Luke, Leia, Han, and the Emperor. For some people, that’s not going to be enjoyable, but it wrapped up the saga.
I think, it’s also fair, as this wrapped up the last trilogy in the saga, to look at this as part of the whole trilogy. I think that you’d be able to watch The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker without watching The Last Jedi and have a pretty complete film. And if someone were to create a cut of The Last Jedi that dropped out the whole gambling planet and Finn and Poe becoming whiny for no reason, you could then add back in the Luke, Rey, and Kylo story. But, I feel like Rise of Skywalker did a good job of recapping some of that information in a meaningful way. Now, yes, you would miss a little bit by skipping The Last Jedi, but less than you’d think. So as a trilogy, that’s definitely a downside for it. I don’t think that Rian Johnson set out to change it so much, but it felt like he didn’t have a full understanding of the characters. I hope that he gets a Star Wars film with his own characters, because I felt like it was interesting in concept, but overall it wasn’t set-up like it should be to continue to tell a cohesive story. But this is a considerably better trilogy than the Phantom Menace trilogy.
Overall, this was a really fun film. I think that it wrapped up stories really well, I think it was decently well acted, and I feel like the saga was completed. Now, don’t ever show me any of these characters as main characters on the big screen again, maybe in the background 10 years down the line would be fine, but even that’s questionable. Or maybe a plaque with Rey’s face on it. I’m ready for more new Star Wars, but I’m also glad to see this finish the way that it did. I hope that Disney and Kathleen Kennedy can get a better, more clear, direction for Star Wars and really be able to build off some of what Marvel has done for Disney but also to then create a more developed universe. I will also wrap this up by saying that I’m not someone who knows the extended universe stuff, but I know there were a lot of references to the stuff that I only vaguely knew about.
So, what were your thoughts on Rise of Skywalker. But, as much as that, stepping back and looking at this as the Skywalker Saga, what are your thoughts on the nine movies put together as a whole?
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