Fish and Cherries Productions

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Reel Snippet – Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

The Force will be with you… always.

Summary: The war between the Resistance and the First Order gets interrupted by a mysterious transmission from someone long dead: Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmand). While Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) seeks out the source of this phantom broadcast, Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training under General Leia Organa (a posthumous Carrie Fisher) with a slowly rebuilding Resistance. Thus she rejoins Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), R2-D2 (Hassan Taj and Lee Towersey), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), and BB-8 (Ben Schwartz) on a journey to destroy the Emperor once and for all, end the First Order, and save the galaxy.

Review: Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker can be judged in two different ways: as a film and as a Star Wars story. As a film, it’s… not very good. There are several rules of filmmaking that are just broken, it feels like two movies smashed into one, and there are quite a few moments that made me scratch my head. As a Star Wars story, though, I found myself enjoying it for the new additions to the lore, the payoff for several characters and events from the past movies, and a sort of emotional release. Kind of a conflicted opinion, but hey, that makes it perfect for this movie.

Just a fair warning… there’s gonna be a buttload of spoilers, so let this be your warning going forward.

Let’s tackle the biggest elephant in the room: Rey turning out to be Emperor Palpatine’s granddaughter as opposed to coming from no-one of importance. I’m… not a fan of this change. It undercuts the notion that prodigies and talent can come from anywhere, but there’s more to it than that. See, there’s this term from improv acting (though it can apply to any form of collaborative storytelling) called “Yes and…” where you build off of a prompt someone gives you. J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio, on the other hand, pulled what we call “No, but…” and basically overwrote (or retconned, if you know the term) Rian Johnson’s previous assertion, kind of clumsily in my opinion.

Compare it to a retcon done well — the start of Geoff Johns’ run on the Green Lantern comics. It had been previously established that Hal Jordan, the original Earth-born space cop, had turned evil and more or less committed genocide, a decision that nobody liked. Under Geoff Johns, it was revealed that Hal was possessed by a cosmic entity called Parallax, a decision which creatively opened up the DC Universe to a load of possibilities. Rey’s parentage, on the other hand, is the least interesting thing about her and the choice to focus on it long after it had been resolved is ultimately immature storytelling. Then again, seeing as Chris Terrio was a writer on Batman v. Superman and Justice League, that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise.

(Side note, if you have need of a headache, read this interview from Terrio. He explains some of his decisions and it’s… just read.)

Let me just briefly run through some other things I took issue with. This movie commits the classic Star Wars sin of leaving key details and plot points out of the movie, instead putting it in supplemental material (Did you know that Jannah (Naomi Ackie) was actually Lando’s daughter kidnapped at birth? Boy, that would have made for some good storytelling if it was put in the movie!). The Knights of Ren, a group that’s been hyped up since The Force Awakens, turned out to be underwhelming mooks that get dispatched pointlessly and easily. Fun fact, Rian Johnson would have originally had them in the roles of the Praetorian Guards and I’ve got to say, that would have been a better way for them to go out. Leila’s ultimate fate, while emotional, comes dangerously close to invoking the Women in Refrigerators trope. On that subject, the scenes with Leia are uncomfortably awkward because it’s painfully obvious that they’re shooting around very limited footage. Also, Chewbacca’s fake-out death annoyed me for various logic and storytelling reasons. Also also, that final kiss between Rey and Kylo was gross on so many levels.

Finally, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) being sidelined is frustrating because there are so many areas where she could have easily filled in a role, one of which was a part played by a CGI slug. It’s even more grating because there’s another such role filled by Dominic Monaghan that was apparently written for him because he won a bet with Abrams, which is the ugliest display of nepotism I’ve seen since Sandler and pretty high on the list of things that loses someone artistic credibility. Speaking of, Abrams said that there were more scenes with Rose and Leia, but they couldn’t use them due to Fisher’s death and may I just say how incredibly tactless it is to blame your problems on a dead woman. I certainly hope that Rose’s absence comes down to lackluster filmmaking abilities and not attempting to appease the rabid fans that resorted to online harassment against the actress because that would be f***ing immoral.

So that’s a lot of negative, where’s the positive? Well… how to explain it… as I sat through the whole affair, there was something there in the experience. It’s an intangible something that definitely transported me in some capacity. It was there when Jedi from the franchise’s past spoke to Rei en masse, when the ghost of Luke confidently lifted his X-Wing from the ocean (how that thing flew after all that time underwater is a mystery, though), when what seemed like the entire galaxy came to fight alongside the Resistance, and when Rey ignited her own, personally constructed lightsaber. Maybe it’s just because I’m a huge Star Wars fan, but there were times I felt like the galaxy had opened up. There weren’t as many glaring retcons to The Last Jedi as I’d feared — in fact, most of it felt like payoff to things that had been set up there. The final shot was like I had been allowed to exhale after a very long held breath. It may not have done the best job at bringing it all together, but still, in a way, it brought it together.

On the whole, I didn’t hate The Rise of Skywalker. This may sound like faint praise and the four paragraphs of negativity against the one of positivity doesn’t help my case, but that’s the sort of movie this is. I liked watching it, but I hated thinking about it. Unlike the last movie where bad faith criticisms made me angry, I found a lot of good points in the pushback. Still, I enjoyed it and am excited to see where the franchise goes next. Let’s face it, if Jar Jar Binks, the Holiday Special, and that god-awful Kinect game couldn’t destroy Star Wars, this certainly won’t.

Fun Tidbit: The revival of Emperor Palpatine was advertised during an event in the game Fortnite: Battle Royale. This isn’t the first time Disney has partnered with Fortnite, as Korg and Miek we’re playing it in Avengers: Endgame and there was a temporary game mode where players had to find the Infinity Stones before the other team.

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