SI’m sure it was a daunting task when Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy entrusted director J.J. Abrams to not only close out the Disney-Star Wars trilogy, but the entire Skywalker saga that began over 40 years ago.
Thinking about it only conjures up the daunting task at hand: you have new characters like Rey, Finn, and Poe with their own personalities and story arcs that already spread into two feature films. However, their DNA is intrinsically tied to the characters and arcs of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and the other legacy Star Wars characters that began this epic space opera in the 1970s.
“The Rise of Skywalker” (aka Episode 9) was destined from the very beginning to wrap up everything in a neat little bow, but understanding the complexity of doing so might lessen the blow of what could be a very convoluted and problematic cinematic experience for some.
Episode 9, is first and foremost, a film full of fan service because it can’t risk not being one. Because the new trilogy beginning with “The Force Awakens” ties itself to the events of the original trilogy and prequel films, there needed to be references to them.
How that translates into “The Rise of Skywalker,” however, is where we begin to run into problems. While we won’t go into great detail, we will say that the references for the fans are almost too on the nose. To some degree, they, both devices and characters, became really distracting because they seemed to be placed without any particular value to the new story at hand.
Regarding story, the new one that drives Episode 9 is much like a cat-and-mouse chase. Those movies are typically are a lot of fun since there’s an element of play that involved. J.J. Abrams and the other screenwriter Chris Terrio took that fun and Star Wars’d it so that the cat and mouse were familiar.
Again, without getting into great detail, the overall story and subplots have to deal with problems in past films like Light Side vs. Dark Side and the concept of hope in all things. Set all that to new planets, lightsabers, and astromech droids and you have something to always keep your eyes delighted, but your emotional side lacking.
Movies, like all forms of entertainment, are meant to stir you and make you feel. Those emotions are the things that will make the film memorable, for the good or the bad. But with “The Rise of Skywalker,” we’d argue that the emotions you will feel when taking in the film also heavily depends on who you are as a viewer.
I had the opportunity to screen the film twice before its wide public release, one with a good friend and big Star Wars fan who is nearly 10 years younger than I, and my father who borne the love of Star Wars in me, and who is over 30 years older than I. I asked them what they thought about the film and shared my own thoughts with them. For the younger friend, we seemed to find the film lacking citing things that had to deal mainly with the new trilogy like weirdness of “Reylo” (aka the relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey).
However, when I asked my dad his thoughts, he really enjoyed it mentioning mainly things that deal with the original trilogy and prequels. He really didn’t focus on the new story that was trying to be told to wrap things up. Instead, he looked forward to seeing the characters (namely Nien Nunb) and things (namely epic spaceship dog fights) that made him fall for Star Wars as a franchise in the first place.
Putting these two perspectives together, it’s clearer to see that Episode 9 was trying to be a lot of things to a lot of people. But that’s what you get when you set out to create a film that spans generations and wants to close it out for them. And that’s not a bad thing if you’re looking to gratify your Star Wars fandom as a means of also saying goodbye to it.
Like how “Avengers: Endgame” had the mighty task of closing out nearly triple the amount of stories, characters, and their respective movies, “The Rise of Skywalker” did that. Will these finale films get Oscars for Best Picture?
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Details (from IMDB) –
- Runtime: 141 minutes
- Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action.
All reviews are personal opinions and may not reflect the attitudes of other writers for DisneyExaminer.com unless stated otherwise.
These films have been screened prior to the release date for review purposes and therefore are viewed without charge courtesy of The Walt Disney Studios.