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Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (December 2019)


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Apologies in advance, this is a long one.   I've seen The Rise Of Skywalker twice now - on my own on Thursday, and with my wife and son on Saturday. The first time I thought it was the weake

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14 minutes ago, Rudderless said:

Apologies in advance, this is a long one.

 

I've seen Rise Of The Skywalker twice now - on my own on Thursday, and with my wife and son on Saturday. The first time I thought it was the weakest of the new trilogy, but I enjoyed it more the second time and I'm unsure where I'd rank it now. 

 

I must admit, I'm slightly taken aback by the vitriolic response it's had in some quarters, and I think the suggestion that it's weaker than any of the prequels is just so far from my opinion I can't quite get my head around it. I wonder if it's partly a generational thing. I grew up with the original trilogy - I was born in 1977, and saw the original and ESB when I was five. At that age, I naturally preferred A New Hope, and it would probably still top my list, even though I now appreciate much more what everyone saw in Empire. ROTJ was my first cinema trip at six, and I was mesmerised. Over time it's dwindled slightly in my affections, though I still think it has some of the series' finest moments. 

 

I think, looking back, I'd always pretended Star Wars meant slightly more to me than it did. Sometimes you let people know you care about something and that almost comes to define you in their eyes. Because I adored it as a youngster, I'd often get Star Wars-themed presents for birthdays and Christmas etc. well into my teens and even beyond, though I'd never really got into the Expanded Universe, nor had I rewatched the originals that often since childhood. Still, when the prequels were announced, I felt a familiar flutter of excitement. I watched The Phantom Menace in a group of six and while a lot of the same ingredients were there, we all knew that something wasn't right. I went to see TPM again and was largely bored outside the pod race and the Qui Gon/Obi Wan/Maul lightsaber battle. My expectations were sufficiently lowered for Attack of the Clones, but some very positive reviews convinced me I shouldn't lose faith. I went to see it at a midnight showing filled with cosplayers and uber-fans and had a whale of a time; the film itself was almost incidental. It was only upon a rewatch that I realised what a mess it was. Revenge of the Sith? Again, I stupidly got my hopes up. Again, it took a second watch for me to realise I'd been sold a duffer again. There's so much potential in the story of Anakin's turn to the dark side, and yet he goes from "what have I done?" to *murdering kids* within minutes. Awful. 

 

So when it was confirmed we'd be getting a new trilogy, you'd think I'd be cynical about it. And yet still that fiery spit of hope. And during Rey's maiden flight in the Falcon on Jakku, Star Wars made me feel like a kid for the first time since Jedi. JJ gets it, I thought. Yes, The Force Awakens' plot was a bit of a rehash - though not a total copy-paste as some suggested - but this felt like the Star Wars I'd first fallen in love with. John Williams on top form; a much more tactile, convincing world compared to the weightless CGI overload of the prequels (at last, lightsabers felt dangerous again); heroes you instantly liked and could root for. When Finn whoops after shooting that final TIE fighter, I was *this* close to joining in. It was, and I still believe this, everything a new Star Wars needed to be: a return to first principles with great acting, exuberant action and just a few little twists on familiar ideas. A great start for a new generation of fans.

 

I was delighted, too, when The Last Jedi decided to shake things up a bit. I maintain that it's far from perfect, and would add that a middle film in a trilogy can naturally afford to be more experimental - without the pressure of having to start things off or wrap everything up, this is the ideal time to play around with unusual ideas. For me, it's most successful with the Rey/Luke/Kylo thread, pretty much all of which worked for me. I'm fine with the Poe/Holdo stuff - it's good that he develops from a gung-ho flyboy to someone who understands the value of a tactical retreat - and while it's exceptionally convenient that *that* manoeuvre avoids killing our heroes, it is such a beautiful moment that I forgive it. But Finn's connection with Rey, teased in TFA, is pretty much abandoned, and of the main characters he's arguably the most poorly served by the film - so it's little wonder Boyega has suggested he's less fond of it than the others. Still, he has a nice chemistry with Rose, who is a solid addition and an important one in that she represents the little guy - the kind of person upon which the central conflicts have the biggest impact. The Canto Bight section is better on the page than on the screen – that central stick-it-to-the-rich chase should be joyous and cathartic and it's arguably the least well-directed sequence in the recent trilogy, with some of its worst CGI - but in setting up the ending, not only underlining Luke's legend but leaving things on a note of optimism that a new rebellion is about to rise - it's also necessary. I rewatched it again recently, and I have to admit at times I found myself waiting impatiently for the throne-room scene, which is where it really hits top gear. I also think some of the jokes feel weirdly anachronistic - the opening on-hold gag just doesn't fit with Star Wars' brand of humour, for some reason. The Yoda joke about the Jedi texts - "page turners they were not" – is funny, but does that phrase really belong a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? But maybe that's nitpicking. 

 

It goes without saying that not everyone appreciated its breaks from formula. The backlash was ludicrously disproportionate, needlessly vitriolic and often simply downright unfair. I especially felt for Kelly Marie Tran and Rian Johnson, two good people who bore the brunt of the fan complaints. It absolutely deserves to be defended against the worst of those criticisms – for one thing, the notion that Luke should have remained a totally infallible hero is completely misguided, and I think people sometimes conflate 'direction I personally wouldn't have taken this character in' with 'objectively bad storytelling'. But at the same time I think the (understandable) backlash against the backlash led some to become overly defensive towards TLJ - to the point where, as early as the news that JJ Abrams was returning to direct, people were taking against Rise Of The Skywalker. I said last week, and nothing I've seen since has swayed me from this opinion, that the toxicity of the debate surrounding The Last Jedi made it almost impossible for ROTS to get a truly fair shake. 

 

It is undeniably flawed. I think the central MacGuffin (oh no wait, there are two) is silly. The opening is exhilarating in the moment, but feels rushed. The script is too plot- and exposition-heavy. I personally would have stuck with Johnson's approach to Rey's lineage. The Leia scenes never quite ring true for obvious reasons (though they make the best of a bad lot). And there are one too many shocking moments that are subsequently undone, though there are real consequences and genuine sadness still. But it gets so much right. Granted, some of the reason I care so much about these characters is down to the previous two films. But it's great that Abrams finds ways to put them together, where Johnson kept them apart. There's terrific chemistry between Rey and Finn, and Finn and Poe, and Rey and Kylo. Threepio has never been better. "CHEWIE!" (second time around, I heard a big collective gasp at this) Babu Frik! That scene with Kylo where the music drops and he hears a voice behind him (during which, in a moment that would be unbelievably cliché if it weren't true, I had a single tear roll down my cheek). It looks fantastic. And yes, some of this is down to 40 years' worth of emotional attachment to these themes, but John Williams' score is just magnificent. Combine that with some of the best acting in the series – I would go as far as to say that Adam Driver has delivered the best performance across all nine films, and it's saying something that Daisy Ridley almost matches him in this – and I find it hard to fathom how anyone can find themselves less moved by this than the prequels. 

 

Perhaps more importantly, I don't think a lot of the decisions it makes are anything to do with pandering to the abusive arseholes that ran KMT off the internet and continue to invade Johnson's Twitter mentions to this day. The apparent digs at TLJ, for my money, are nothing of the sort. I think it's easy for those of us who are Extremely Online (as a heavy Twitter user, I count myself among this group) to be hyper-aware of this stuff, and to read too much into anything that fits into this pre-conceived narrative of ROTS being a direct reaction to this nonsense.

 

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I think, for a kick-off, it's easy to forget that this had to wrap up nine films, not just three, and so callbacks are not only inevitable, but would be welcomed by the majority of fans.

 


I'll concede that the first time I heard it my brow furrowed slightly, but after thinking about it, I'm convinced "That's no way to treat the weapon of a Jedi" is definitely not a dig at Johnson, since it's actually consistent with Luke's arc in TLJ - by the end of the film, he's actively recognised that he's isolated himself out of fear, and that his friends need him. When he throws it away at the beginning of the film he's in a very different place. And when Rey returns to the island, he sees that she's following his path. Likewise, the bit where Dominic Monaghan's character directly references the Holdo manoeuvre. That it's rejected isn't a eye-roll - the line they use in response is "that was one in a million". Which, you'll no doubt recall, was preceded by the words "great shot, kid" in A New Hope. It's an acknowledgement that she did something badass, but that it's not (yet) the time for kamikaze tactics. It's not 'hurr hurr, wasn't that stupid'. 

 

I've seen this tweet quoted quite a bit recently, and I have mixed feelings about it: https://twitter.com/Carlos_Adama/status/1208404661851561985

I tend to agree with this, and I'm not sure that the Palpatine reveal was the right way to go (though you could argue that if you're talking about something a character doesn't want to hear, finding out you're the granddaughter of the most evil dude in the galaxy is right up there). But at the same time, Rey still gets to define herself. In the end, she realises her lineage doesn't determine her fate. That her found family is more important than her birth family - and that's a theme Star Wars has been exploring since day one. 

(Also, I really liked the sight gag of BB-8 next to the twin suns at the end, just a nice little moment of levity.)

 

 

Anyway, I've rambled on enough. I dunno. It feels a little like TLJ recalibrated expectations of what a Star Wars film is, and so I get why some people feel disappointed at ROTS being relatively risk-averse. But the criticisms of this feel like a lot like folk are criticising a Star Wars film for being, well, a Star Wars film. I think over time that people will warm to this a little more, even those who now hold TLJ up as the series' finest hour. All I can say is that I felt relieved the first time I saw it, and pretty damn satisfied the second. As in TFA and TLJ, I laughed, I cried, I cheered – and over the course of three films, I've found my love for this universe reinvigorated. 

 

tl;dr - I almost entirely agree with Robbie Collin's review below, particularly the closing lines: "A busked epic...straight from the heart." Yes, it doesn't always add up. Yes, it's both too much and not enough. But that's Star Wars, and while there's obviously room for improvement in any Disney films that follow (and I do hope Johnson gets his trilogy) I'm not sure I'd have it any other way.

 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/2019/12/19/star-wars-rise-of-skywalker-review-jj-abrams-heroes-ending/


absolutely spot on

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33 minutes ago, Rudderless said:

Fuck, wrote a massive long post and then the spoiler tags messed up for some reason (it hid the spoilers but also the last part of the post, which I intended to be unspoilered) and so I hid it in haste, but I've lost half the stuff I'd written. Is there any way to get the hidden post back?

 

Ask the mods to turn it into a Post Ghost.

 

Nothing is ever truly gone.

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50 minutes ago, Rudderless said:

for one thing, the notion that Luke should have remained a totally infallible hero is completely misguided

I still don’t agree with this. As far as I’m concerned it felt totally wrong for his character.

 

In the original trilogy, he is always optimistic. Always pushing forward, even into danger, because he is wholly good and believes he can make things right. His character grew through the first three films from naive farm boy, to the saviour of the galaxy and a powerful Jedi and we left him at his peak.

 

His introduction in this trilogy as some washed up old hermit who’d lost all hope was massively jarring. I understand why they did it for the story. Knock him down to his lowest, so they could build him back up for the finale. It definitely makes sense within the context of TLJ, but overall it just doesn’t work for me. Especially when you put in all the terrible comedy moments, like the lightsaber toss and the blue milk.

 

There is no way I would ever believe that the Luke we’d watch grow in the original trilogy would have given up on Ben the way he did. He’d have found a way to work it out without giving up. That’s just not Luke’s way. But then we’d have had a completely different story.
 

Anyway, that’s just my point of view on it and one of the reasons why TLJ doesn’t work for me, so to say it’s completely misguided is a bit much.

 

 

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I wonder how George Lucas feels that Disney have now turned the 9 episode Star Wars saga into what is basically the story of the rise of the Palpatine family and the rise, fall and destruction of the Skywalker family.....

 

Spoiler

Oh and why wasn’t Kylo Ren a space ghost at the end? He redeemed himself like Anakin at the end of RotJ. Coming to think of it... where’s Anakin too, seeing as all of the Skywalkers are dead.

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8 minutes ago, JPL said:

I still don’t agree with this. As far as I’m concerned it felt totally wrong for his character.

 

In the original trilogy, he is always optimistic. Always pushing forward, even into danger, because he is wholly good and believes he can make things right. His character grew through the first three films from naive farm boy, to the saviour of the galaxy and a powerful Jedi and we left him at his peak.

 

His introduction in this trilogy as some washed up old hermit who’d lost all hope was massively jarring. I understand why they did it for the story. Knock him down to his lowest, so they could build him back up for the finale. It definitely makes sense within the context of TLJ, but overall it just doesn’t work for me. Especially when you put in all the terrible comedy moments, like the lightsaber toss and the blue milk.

 

There is no way I would ever believe that the Luke we’d watch grow in the original trilogy would have given up on Ben the way he did. He’d have found a way to work it out without giving up. That’s just not Luke’s way. But then we’d have had a completely different story.
 

Anyway, that’s just my point of view on it and one of the reasons why TLJ doesn’t work for me, so to say it’s completely misguided is a bit much.

 

 

 

He lost all because he felt personally responsible for Ben falling to the Dark Side... that's not hard to see.

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10 minutes ago, JPL said:

I still don’t agree with this. As far as I’m concerned it felt totally wrong for his character.

 

In the original trilogy, he is always optimistic. Always pushing forward, even into danger, because he is wholly good and believes he can make things right. His character grew through the first three films from naive farm boy, to the saviour of the galaxy and a powerful Jedi and we left him at his peak.

 

His introduction in this trilogy as some washed up old hermit who’d lost all hope was massively jarring. I understand why they did it for the story. Knock him down to his lowest, so they could build him back up for the finale. It definitely makes sense within the context of TLJ, but overall it just doesn’t work for me. Especially when you put in all the terrible comedy moments, like the lightsaber toss and the blue milk.

 

There is no way I would ever believe that the Luke we’d watch grow in the original trilogy would have given up on Ben the way he did. He’d have found a way to work it out without giving up. That’s just not Luke’s way. But then we’d have had a completely different story.
 

Anyway, that’s just my point of view on it and one of the reasons why TLJ doesn’t work for me, so to say it’s completely misguided is a bit much.

 

 

 

I much preferred the idea of sad hermit Luke, than wise powerful master Luke but didn't think the route they took him there was the best. I could totally buy Luke giving up training jedi's because he thinks the power is too dangerous for the universe or something, but not so much that Luke would considering murdering his sleeping nephew.

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1 minute ago, JPL said:

I still don’t agree with this. As far as I’m concerned it felt totally wrong for his character.

 

In the original trilogy, he is always optimistic. Always pushing forward, even into danger, because he is wholly good and believes he can make things right. His character grew through the first three films from naive farm boy, to the saviour of the galaxy and a powerful Jedi and we left him at his peak.

 

His introduction in this trilogy as some washed up old hermit who’d lost all hope was massively jarring. I understand why they did it for the story. Knock him down to his lowest, so they could build him back up for the finale. It definitely makes sense within the context of TLJ, but overall it just doesn’t work for me. Especially when you put in all the terrible comedy moments, like the lightsaber toss and the blue milk.

 

There is no way I would ever believe that the Luke we’d watch grow in the original trilogy would have given up on Ben the way he did. He’d have found a way to work it out without giving up. That’s just not Luke’s way. But then we’d have had a completely different story.
 

Anyway, that’s just my point of view on it and one of the reasons why TLJ doesn’t work for me, so to say it’s completely misguided is a bit much.

 

 

 

Fair point. I was more referring to the TLJ haters I ended up in a debate with on Twitter the other day who basically insisted there was no way he should have become fallible because "his arc had finished". I get why people find it jarring - and as a whiny kid with crap hair I always identified more with Luke than Han - but I think Johnson does enough to make it work. He felt guilty for letting Ben turn to the dark side and was worried that he was doing more harm than good, and so chose to isolate himself. 

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13 minutes ago, scottcr said:

 

He lost all because he felt personally responsible for Ben falling to the Dark Side... that's not hard to see.

Yeah, I can totally see why they did it for the story of TLJ, as I say in my post. It just doesn’t work for me. I don’t think he’d have given up on Ben falling to the dark side. Simple as that really.

 

But, these are just opinions. Neither mine or anyone who likes his treatment in TLJ are wrong, they’re just different.

 

What I was really questioning was why Rudderless was claiming anyone’s opinion that didn’t match with his was misguided, but he’s answered that now.

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17 minutes ago, gone fishin' said:

I wonder how George Lucas feels that Disney have now turned the 9 episode Star Wars saga into what is basically the story of the rise of the Palpatine family and the rise, fall and destruction of the Skywalker family.....

 

  Hide contents

Oh and why wasn’t Kylo Ren a space ghost at the end? He redeemed himself like Anakin at the end of RotJ. Coming to think of it... where’s Anakin too, seeing as all of the Skywalkers are dead.

 

The Space Ghosts clearly don't follow any logic. Anakin decides to show up for the party on Endor but apparently can't be bothered to have a chat with his very confused grandson. 

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10 minutes ago, Rudderless said:

 

Fair point. I was more referring to the TLJ haters I ended up in a debate with on Twitter the other day who basically insisted there was no way he should have become fallible because "his arc had finished". I get why people find it jarring - and as a whiny kid with crap hair I always identified more with Luke than Han - but I think Johnson does enough to make it work. He felt guilty for letting Ben turn to the dark side and was worried that he was doing more harm than good, and so chose to isolate himself. 

 

And, not that I'm a fan of Lucas' poetry it rhymes nonsense - it is what happened with Obi Wan as well although it played out backwards for the viewer. Adventure loving Jedi who turns into a Hermit after his apprentice turned out to be a lunatic who helped murder all his friends (and some kids) so he was forced to mutilate him on a lava planet.

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14 minutes ago, HarryBizzle said:

 

The Space Ghosts clearly don't follow any logic. Anakin decides to show up for the party on Endor but apparently can't be bothered to have a chat with his very confused grandson. 

 

He saw the Ewoks there and thought they were younglings. The lad Ani loved to party!

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5 minutes ago, Mawdlin said:

Luke was my favourite character in the first three movies. I kinda grew up with him, wanted to be him, pretended to be a Jedi, lightsabre battles etc etc.

 

I respectfully disagree with your post. Luke's arc has been wonderful. It completely made sense to me that he lost his idealism given that the Jedi are just as susceptible to corruption as everyone else. Plus we made big mistakes and also got old and cranky together. 

 

His remains my favourite character.

That’s totally fine, but that wasn’t my point!

 

My last post tried to explain a bit more, that I don’t think it’s wrong that our opinions differ, more that it was a bit off for Rudderless to call people who didn’t agree with him as completely misguided.

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I went to see it this morning. I had a good time. It was a perfectly ok Space War and I enjoyed myself.

 

4/5

 

Have they announced a Lando series or something because they totally announced it in that celebration scene.

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9 minutes ago, Flub said:

I went to see it this morning. I had a good time. It was a perfectly ok Space War and I enjoyed myself.

 

4/5

 

Have they announced a Lando series or something because they totally announced it in that celebration scene.


I’m not sure, but I was totally confused. Either he was awkwardly and creepily propositioning her or he owns some sort of 23 and Me company. 

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2 hours ago, Rudderless said:

I also think some of the jokes feel weirdly anachronistic - the opening on-hold gag just doesn't fit with Star Wars' brand of humour, for some reason. The Yoda joke about the Jedi texts - "page turners they were not" – is funny, but does that phrase really belong a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? But maybe that's nitpicking. 

 

Great post, but I'm just replying to this one bit:

 

It's weird that Poe's on hold/connection problems joke comes in for criticism for feeling out of place and anachronistic, considering that possibly the funniest dialogue in the OT (Han's "boring conversation anyway") is a radio miscommunication gag along similar lines.

 

I agree that something about the Poe/Hux joke doesn't quite fit, but I can't pin down what it is. Ignoring how funny they might be, what makes the two jokes get such different receptions? Is it because the Han dialogue seems improvised but the Poe version seems overly-calculated? Or is it because it appears right at the start of the film so it's given more prominence than it deserves?

 

 

(I love the Yoda page-turners line, though!)

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I'm not sure why, but I definitely prefer the prequels to this trilogy.

 

Don't get me wrong, neither trilogy will have me sitting down to watch again. But for having something on in the background, the prequels will likely stay, and this new trilogy will be skipped in the search for something else.

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1 hour ago, JPL said:

That’s totally fine, but that wasn’t my point!

 

My last post tried to explain a bit more, that I don’t think it’s wrong that our opinions differ, more that it was a bit off for Rudderless to call people who didn’t agree with him as completely misguided.

Fair enough.

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15 minutes ago, drmick said:

I'm not sure why, but I definitely prefer the prequels to this trilogy.

Insanity? ;) In fairness I am joking, but I do find your preference bemusing. The prequels are objectively terrible movies, with some of the most atrocious writing ever committed to film. At least The Phantom Menace had a stunning lightsaber fight, and gave us McGregor as Obi-Wan, I'll give the prequels that. 

 

I watched Revenge of the Sith the same day I went to see Rise of Skywalker, I wanted to give it another chance, but also see Palpatine/Sidious again. I'll never ever watch RotS again for as long as I live. It's awful. 

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