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STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER REVIEW (SPOILER-FREE)

If the release of another Star Wars film can guarantee anything, it’s that everyone will gather at the cinema to witness the next chapter in the saga. Fans, cinema-goers, even people who may not be that interested in the franchise, they’ll all spend hard-earned money on a cinema ticket. The reason why? Because Star Wars has transcended into something more than cinema, it’s a cultural event. You can guarantee then, that we will want to see this event conclude. After a very divisive episode 8, it came under question whether JJ Abrams was to continue or steer off the course Rian Johnson had set to offer a fitting conclusion. As someone who could weld a toy lightsabre before knowing the times’ tables, it hurts to say that I saw the conflict of interest too clearly, however as a spectacle, it’s still the same Star Wars we love.

What I admire the most about this trilogy of Star Wars film is that for the past five years, everyone who’s worked on a Star Wars film not only understands the importance of a great film but also the importance of great filmmaking. I think it’s safe to say that all three films in this trilogy have been visually breath-taking. The Rise of Skywalker continues this trend with fantastic camera work that makes the universe more exciting with each planetary visit. The new costumes, vehicles, and props fit right into an already established identity and look. I warmly welcomed the new droid D-0 in a similar fashion to how I welcomed BB-8 in The Force Awakens. Just through a simple design, it didn’t feel like this was a droid the filmmakers had made for this film, somewhere in this universe this droid had always existed.

Additionally, the trio of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac) are characters who are great individuals, but I’m especially glad that JJ Abrams devoted more time to see these characters as a group sharing scenes together instead of dividing them. These three are the new generations trio and putting them together helps its audience bond with them as well as getting a kick out of seeing how they play off one another’s personalities. Moving from the new onto the old, something that everyone was curious about is how they would integrate Leia into The Rise of Skywalker after the passing of Carrie Fisher. In the short term, it was dealt with pretty well, but I believe as time passes, the fact they used unused footage from the other two films will become much more obvious.

Was it just me or did anyone else feel that C3P0 (Anthony Daniels) had much more involvement in the story? not only that, I found his level of wit had shot up which was a big surprise for me. In the previous films, he became this background character, in Daniels’ own words he became a table decoration. In the original trilogy, there was always some point in the story where he’d become the center of attention to the story for a short time so this retread of the familiar ground is a good welcome back.

For all nine Star Wars films, John Williams’ music has been pieces of indescribable beauty. In terms of score functionality, The Rise of Skywalker has been the most impressive. John Williams incorporates all the major themes from not just this saga but from the originals and prequels. If you were to close your eyes for the whole film and just listen to the music, it sounds like a conclusion.

I think controversy is a customary outcome for any Star Wars films because it has reach so many people, everyone has their own visualization of what they want this world to be and where it should head. Any major objecting element of the Star Wars is treated like a contagion that we want to expel from our own visualizations. In the past, these have ranged from specifics like Jar-Jar Binks (*shudders*) to more open criticisms, the case in point with The Rise of Skywalker is the need to fix itself.

A big mistake filmmaker, especially writers make is that they think that the world of the film is theirs to control, but every film made, every story told is like a marker on a historical timeline and in history everything counts. To erase or fix or leave open is a very risky move to play and The Rise of Skywalker makes many of these high-risk moves and the filmmakers appear to have lost their gamble.

Star Wars’ own narrative structure is given a complete rewrite by The Rise of Skywalker with too many MacGuffins. If you want an example of how not to write in MacGuffins, The Rise of Skywalker is the perfect case study. The idea of a MacGuffin is that the story is centered around one thing that propels the plot. Star Wars was a major player in the MacGuffin idea with R2-D2 in the original trilogy so having so many objects or things these characters need, what they’re trying to achieve becomes clouded.

The Rise of Skywalker has a lot of big moments that change the plot that serves to keep us entertained, however not of these big moments can manifest in us and in the odd few cases when time is given, it devotes itself to boring, safe exposition. I feel it’s not that big of a spoiler to say that Palpatine (Ian McDermid) is back, he is on the poster after all. I feel the moment fans heard his laugh in the teaser trailer, the question on everyone’s lips is “How is he back”? That question is not answered. Sure, it hints various possible explanations to how he came back but they’re very unfitting reasons for a Star Wars film. There’s a definite divide in this film between fan and filmmaker expectations that has caused this big rift which could just as easily become a big disconnection between the two.

Fans need more than just call-backs and nostalgic moments when it comes to something like Star Wars. I know that this is typical JJ Abrams’s structure but when he directed The Force Awakens this was needed to build faith and trust in audiences as there hadn’t been a major Star Wars film in a long time. JJ needed to break away from his usual routine with The Rise of Skywalker and simply answer the questions we had been asking with confidence. The film does answer some questions, but it also creates new questions and leaves some unsolved. I suppose they need the new and unanswered for future installments but who knows when that will be and by that time will audiences care enough?

But you know what? My opinion is just a drop in the ocean and it may not carry much weight, so I think the people whose opinions should matter are those who were there from the very beginning. My dad who spent a cold 1977 British winter queuing outside a cinema for hours just to see A New Hope told me once the credits rolled that during the final scene of The Rise of Skywalker, he could see his younger self, sat with three of his friends like ghosts of fallen Jedis in total awe. If that happened during The Rise of Skywalker, it must have surely hit a least one right note.

I’m still curious as to what the future of Star Wars is going to bring what with the spin-off films and tv series in development, but I think if it does return, whoever will hold the leash will have to take a good, long look at not just where the cracks in the series are, but also how stable the foundations are. This saga has suffered from a sense of direction, however, let’s not forget that this saga has improved on many things such as likable characters that can come close to being as iconic as Luke, Han, and Leia as well as a great advert for devoted filmmaking. The kind of success Star Wars has had is the kind of success that every success filmmakers want to be blessed with just once in their career and I believe that this franchise has moved on from legacy and now carries something worth more, heritage.

Final Result: 6/10 – Above Average

Have you seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

Next Time: SMReviews Awards or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love 2019

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Film Reviews

2 thoughts on “STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER REVIEW (SPOILER-FREE) Leave a comment

  1. Like your dad, I was there in the last 70s. I’ve seen all 9 now of the Star Wars films in the movie theaters. Whatever that means, I’m in that club. This one is better than LAST JEDI, which I felt was a mistake. They should have given Rian Johnson a side story adventure not involving the original characters. I didn’t care for what he did with Luke. I liked THE FORCE AWAKENS and felt it was closest to the original trilogy.

    And then there is .. this movie? Just too much retconning LAST JEDI, too much of a find the ___ macguffin chase with not a logic. STAR WARS isn’t an Indiana Jones movie, yet it kind of had that feel, only without Indiana Jones lead character. Don’t get me started on Rey … she was never a Luke Skywalker. I’m tired of films thinking we have to have new female leads in movies where we already had them (Linda Hamilton in TERMINATOR, for example). We had Princess Leia in Star Wars and it’s sad that Carrie Fisher died before this movie came out because I think we would have gotten a better movie if she had survived and been able to film new scenes. Instead, we get Rey, who’s character isn’t 5% of the greatness that Carrie Fisher was … even in outtake footage.

    The best thing about Disney Star Wars right now is not this movie, it’s THE MANDALORIAN. Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni understand what STAR WARS is about.

    Like

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