Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Review: Star Wars Rise of Skywalker


OK, I've had a week to digest Rise of Skywalker and to give it a grade both as a movie and as the end of the Sequel Trilogy and end of the saga.

First off, as a movie: its Star Wars; even when its bad its good. This movie leaned into the bread and butter of the franchise which is space fighting, blaster fighting, and light saber duels. Like all the new movies it leans into spectacle far more than slow story and character building. This is a trend we see starting even in Empire Strikes Back (giant space asteroid worm? Why?) and Return of the Jedi, and since today's modern big name action directors have so much more ability to make what they envision in their heads appear on the screen due to CGI effects and knowing that these Star Wars movies are remembered for the big scenes, the trend towards spectacle over story is almost inevitable.

That being said, the lack of space to breath is really noticeable in this movie. It really goes from scene to scene to scene at a frenetic pace, trying to put a big explosive covered bow to wrap up its own trilogy and the 9 movie saga as a whole. It tries hard, very hard, to raise the stakes to a 9 movie conclusion and really, I feel like it failed in that regard.

Overall, at first I thought I liked it more than The Last Jedi but I feel now that maybe that's not true, but keep in mind I'm a big fan of TLJ so this is not a big hit on RoS. If I were to give TLJ a 7.5/10 score, I'd give RoS 7/10.

Now, taking a look at it as the end of the trilogy and saga, I think it scores better because it hits all the notes you want a big saga end to have: biggest of the bad guys, biggest of the stakes, duels, crisis, combat... you kind of want the frenetic spectacle at the end of the saga, just like Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith both did. On that note, I'd give it a passing grade.

Was fun, would watch again.


OK, I want to take a minute and talk about The Last Jedi again.

Yes, there were problems. Poe Dameron should have been summarily executed by firing squad for his disobeying orders, going rogue, and full blown mutiny, not gushed over by Leia and Holdo. Arcing turbo lasers without a gravity well. Taking a handful of skimmers out against an army of walkers.

But outside of those issues this movie tells a story, has meaningful character arcs for multiple characters (Rey, Finn, Poe, and even Luke!), and looks and sounds gorgeous! I love re-watching this movie with my sons, it just hits the right notes in so many ways.

And I found Old Man Luke believable and relatable, his story and arc satisfying. His confrontation with Kylo was compelling and more than just a light saber duel.

The issue with the resistance bombers dropping bombs? Capital ships generate gravity fields, it makes sense to utilize it with smaller easier to make bombs you drop into its gravity field than make more expensive torpedoes, especially for a cash strapped resistance.

Canto Bight scenes? I don't see any problem with it, it was a nice fresh look into a galaxy unconcerned with the dark/light war and profiting from it.

Anyone who wanted the Luke / Rey arc to go differently, or hated what the writers and director did with Luke as a character, I sympathize but just because its not what you expected does not mean it was not good.

The movie told a new Star Wars story and told it well.

1 comment:

  1. I'd give RoS a 5.5/10 myself. I can't excuse the lack of breathing room, the general lack of character development, or the lack of a truly emotionally impactful ending that resonates. Sadly much of this has to do with the passing of Carrie between films and the subsequent decisions that were made because of her not being available in the last film. That is understandable and regretable, I can't watch her without feeling that loss.

    But that doesn't excuse bad storytelling, and giving up on the grand sweep of time that is a hallmark of SW style. This trilogy clearly needed a plot outline. And while I adore the chances Rian took with the last film and the bold new directions he tried to take the story, it is clear that JJ didn't share that love. I agree with you, Last Jedi wasn't perfect but it was original at least.

    If I could change one single thing, it would be Luke's death. In hindsight, I think it might have saved RoS if Luke was still around. I know the plan was to have this be Carries movie, but obviously that was impossible. It is, after all, the Skywalker saga - and we really didn't have any Skywalkers in it.