Dear 100 Hour Board,
Thoughts on The Rise of Skywalker (once it comes out)?
Dear Baby Yoda,
Your fifteen minutes are up. Baby Yoda is out; Babu Frik is in.
I've held up this question too long, so I'm throwing out my way-too-detailed breakdown of the movie and truncating things a bit. I apologize to those readers who may have used my usual long-form answers as prime material to lull themselves to sleep during long, boring classes. You'll just have to tough it out this time.
The Rise of Skywalker is an acceptable movie. I don't think it's great, but I think it's fun and engaging. Most (not all, but most) of the problems I had with the movie stem from the hopelessly confused lack of direction that has plagued this entire trilogy from day one (though I think this episode is where that strain is the most obvious). It completely baffles me that Disney seemingly didn't bother to plan out, even in vague sketches, anything about where a full-fledged trilogy was going to go. As a finale to a trilogy, the movie is a total mess, and in retroactively changing several of the major plot points of The Last Jedi, it plays out so much like a desperate last-minute course correction that it's really jarring. It shouldn't be hard to make a trilogy that builds off of itself; the three parts of this trilogy feel like they're desperately fighting among themselves instead. It makes them really hard to watch.
That said, I really liked the movie despite the breakneck pacing and the unavoidable writing problems. I like the new cast of characters, and I'm a sucker for imposing villains with strong presence, so I couldn't possibly be upset with the return of Palpatine. The settings were really pretty. Palpatine, Exegol, and the ominous chanting Sith Eternal cult made for a suitably impressive finale. My one biggest nitpick is that the movie falls into the same trap as the Harry Potter movies do, where the final confrontation isn't really exactly mechanically clear; narratively speaking, it's obvious from the moment Rey calls upon the Jedi of years past that she's going to win--but why the victory plays out the way it does isn't really obvious. Even a brief visual appearance of the Jedi who spoke would have satisfied me, as something of a visual cue that Rey was drawing upon power outside of herself. But that's something of a nitpicky personal preference. I'm not a fan of confrontations where the battle ends one way over another simply because the narrative says so, without clear cues as to why that should be the case. It reminded me of the final Harry Potter movie, which not only strips out all of Harry and Voldemort's final dialogue about the Elder Wand, but also depicts their clashing spells in such a boring, lifeless way that if you haven't read the missing dialogue in the original book, you could be forgiven for not understanding how or why Harry even won at all. (It certainly wasn't because he was a better wizard.)
So the movie is fine. As a holistic trilogy, though, I'm not a fan. Every one of these movies has been confused and wishy-washy, I think. I had initially typed a long rant vis-à-vis the divisive decisions of Rian Johnson in The Last Jedi and the deliberately weak worldbuilding of The Force Awakens and how they both negatively bog down this movie, but time doesn't permit me to reproduce it now. Suffice it to say that I think The Rise of Skywalker is just fine. Had Disney launched this trilogy with even a modicum of foresight, though, it could have been amazing, and so I can't help but be a little bit disappointed overall.
Dear Baby Yoda,
Just to give context, I'm the kind of person who liked The Last Jedi the most out of the entire Star Wars sequel trilogy. So if people disagree with my opinions, great!
Things I loved:
- Darth Sidious continuing as the overarching villain of the series
- John Williams' music
- Rey's character arc ("some things are stronger than blood")
- Ben Solo's character arc
- Luke's pep talk to Rey
- Finn's crush on Rey (Guesthouse informed me and the internet confirmed Finn was trying to tell Rey that he is force-sensitive... however, this was left ambiguous in the movie and I absolutely loathe the Rey-Kylo romance, so I'm going to continue believing that Finn has a crush on Rey and that they end up together)
- C3P0's creepy Sith translation voice
- The ruins of the Death Star
- Yellow lightsaber
- Leia was a Jedi
- The appearance by Han Solo
Things I didn't like:
- Rey being a Palpatine when she could have just been no one instead (however, this was preferable to her being a Skywalker--it still works with the "some things are stronger than blood" theme)
- The victory scene on Endor
- Quest for the Sith wayfinders (I hate quests that revolve around searching for objects--could the writers not think of a cooler way to find Exegol?)
- A new planet destruction method instead of some other threat
Things I hated with my entire soul so much that it burns my physical body:
- Rey kissing Ben Solo
I have some thoughts. I'm not a major movie fan, and definitely not a major star wars fan, so you can take this for what it's worth. I also have chosen not to organize my thoughts into anything particularly coherent. And, of course, there are SPOILERS contained herein.
- The dialogue was tacky as heck. Of course, would it be a star wars film without tacky dialogue?
- Rey / Kylo fight scene on the destroyed Death Sar with all the intense ocean waves was a visual treat and awesome, though I'm sure others might disagree. In fact, I thought this whole movie was just SUPER visually appealing.
- I really loved the healing use of the force, despite the fact that it also felt like a bit of a cop-out.
- I also loved when Luke's ghost snatches the lightsaber before it goes in the flames.
- I'm sorry, yellow saber?
- Keri Russell can WORK that Zorii suit.
- THE FIRST 40 MINUTES WAS CHAOS. I get how hard it is to shove tons of plot into a movie to finish the series but I was totally drinking from a plot firehose at the beginning.
- Even not as a fan, I could have predicted the majority of the plot based purely on foreshadowing lines from early in the film. Lightning force power to destroy a transport??? Now who in the franchise does that? Oh right! The emperor. Dead giveaway. Just so many... Predictable outcomes.
- I waffle on the Rey-Kylo thing. Part of me is like "well yeah, the tension has been there all along, they seem pretty much destined to be there for each other." And the other part of me is like "Heck nah, you can't give a character a 30 minute redemption arc and expect me to be okay with it? This is disgusting!"
- Really cool uses of the force. I always love the Rey/Kylo fights where they break through time and space with the force. It's cooool.
- I am left with many loose ends and questions. Leia? Training as a Jedi? Tell me more plz? Who was Palpatine having kids with like whhhhaaaaaaaaaaat? Need more info about the defected storm troopers. Also, remember that kid from the other film who clearly can use the force bc the whole broom thing? WHAT EVER HAPPENED THERE?
- All the wayfinder quest was bleh, unnecessary. Also that they have to go so far out of their way to get the stupid dagger translated and then that is like, not THAT helpful. Felt like a waste of plot time.
- Harrison Ford is a silver freaking fox and I loved seeing him again. I have to put the entire part on the old death star up there on best star wars moments.
- I'm sorry, is Palpatine a dementor or something? That was so weird.
- I'm here for petty work drama but like, "I don't care if you win, I just want Kylo to lose!" Is a pretty stupid reason to be a spy. I guess he got what was coming to him.
- I feel like we need to talk some more about D-O and his unaddressed trauma bc that poor little baby Droid!!!
All I can say is that I enjoyed it and I think this trio of films is still better than the prequel films. I think they did a good enough job for it to be enjoyable, and the film certainly has it's place in good standing in the franchise.
My main thoughts (SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY):
Emperor Palpatine is still alive:
Kylo and Rey's force connection:
Me, thinking "this is straight out of a YA romance novel":
All of Finn's potential love interests:
Palpatine asking yet another person to kill him:
Rey dying BUT NOT DISAPPEARING:
Kylo and Rey kiss:
-guppy of doom
Dear Baby Yoda,
KYLO REN DESERVED BETTER AND THAT IS A HILL I WILL DIE ON.
I have a major problem with modern film series, Star Wars included: they are lazy with characterization. They never put in the work to make me care about Finn or Poe or any of the other characters whose names I haven't bothered to remember. I find them utterly boring. In the whole trilogy, they show little depth and therefore I have little interest in them or their ultimate fate. I appreciated that they put effort into showing Finn to be Force-sensitive, but it was too little, too late.
Kylo Ren was by far the most compelling character of the entire trilogy (and maybe even the entire franchise), and his connection with Rey made the films worth watching. His sense of conflict kept me on the edge of my seat, and his unpredictability was riveting.
As a result, The Rise of Skywalker was ultimately disappointing to me because they spent too much time focusing on other events and other characters. I really enjoyed the parts with Rey and Kylo, but those scenes weren't long enough for my taste. We didn't get to spend enough time appreciating his redemption arc. His conclusion felt like a cheap cliche and HE DESERVED BETTER. I maintain that he didn't need to sacrifice himself to save Rey, and his death negated any interest I have in future stories about the characters.
I mostly enjoy watching new Star Wars films, so don't feel like it's worth having strong opinions about Star Wars movies. Will there be lasers? Fights? Laser sword fights? I'm in.
All of these were present, so overall I enjoyed it. Being there mainly for fight sequences, though, I would have loved if these were better choreographed and made more sense (riding goats on Star Destroyers? Idk man). The opening space battle of Revenge of the Sith and the Rey-Kylo vs. Praetorian Guards throne room fight in The Last Jedi, for example, are totally sweet battle scenes that I liked, but the fights in this film weren't as enjoyable for me.
The Emperor's lair on Exegol was nicely imagined, so I liked that.
Were there plot holes and inconsistencies in the film? Sure, but you since you continually refuse to tell me what you were doing at 1:40 PM last Tuesday with eighteen ferrets and several kilos of Cesium-137, I suppose we'll all have to settle for a little dose of mystery.