I didn’t read anything about the latest Star Wars film before I went to see it. I knew that whatever happened the majority of fans would hate it. Those hard-core fans who haven’t even tried to accept the new films in their life. The people who think they are bigger fans because their parents had sex at a time that enabled them to see them in the cinema. The people who so often complain that Rian Johnson and J.J. Abrams shat all over their childhood with their last films. Man babies essentially. It’s not for me to say who is a bigger fan of the franchise but, it seems to me, if you loved the films as much as you say you do then nothing will ruin them for you. I was so confused by the criticism of The Last Jedi. I’m not saying it’s the best of the bunch but it was a really interesting film. The fact that it essentially said Jedi lore didn’t matter was a game-changer. But not everybody did. There was a lot of vitriol surrounding the release of Rian Johnson’s film. It definitely didn’t show Star Wars fans in a good light. So, you can imagine that Disney would have wanted to take steps to ensure that the last film in the saga got a better reception. But, as you’d expect, the reaction has been similarly cold. You see guys, this is why we can’t have nice things. But, and I’m going to get this out of the way now, I came out of the film having really enjoyed it. I know it was far from perfect and I had issues but, the important thing is, I had a good time. And I’ll happily tell you why.
It seems to me that there are two types of positive film experiences. The first revolves around technically great films that bring joy because of how well crafted they are. Then there are those that, despite their imperfections, bring joy because of how they make you feel. We all have to admit that all of the Star Wars films have been imperfect. It’s very easy to look back on the original trilogy with rose-tinted glasses but this has never been an Oscar-worthy franchise. What is more important is that it never mattered how good these films were. They brought joy because of how they made you feel. They were exciting and they brought together so many great qualities from all over cinema. It was a Western set in space with a great deal of soap opera shoved in for good measure. Whatever may have happened over the years, that spirit has lived on in some respect in all of the films.
Now, despite my rating, I can’t deny that the previous film was technically much better. It had superior pacing, made slightly better use of the characters, and it tried to do something different. The Rise of Skywalker is sloppy, introduces a bunch of new characters who don’t do anything, and it goes right back to where we were after The Force Awakens. Disney was clearly so worried about the reaction to the last film that they wanted to pretend it never happened. This means, one film after Luke himself told us the Jedi mythology didn’t really mean anything, The Rise of Skywalker reminds us that, actually, Jedis are everything.
However, I think The Rise of Skywalker was my favourite out of the recent trilogy. The narrative didn’t jump around as much as the last film which meant you weren’t constantly distracted. It split the main characters into three separate groups and kept the focus on Rey, Finn, and Poe. Yes, that group still went all around the houses to get to where they needed to but at least they didn’t go to a casino for no fucking reason again. The film is also fucking beautiful. I know all of these films have been but the new landscapes we see and some of the new characters are the best yet. It’s amazing. Plus, there’s some really great acting going on. Adam Driver gives a great performance and also manages to cement his place as the sexiest Sith Lord (Not hard, I grant you).
The thing is, when The Rise of Skywalker gets it right, it gets it really right. It really takes on the spirit of the franchise and gives our old favourites are given their chance to prove why they are old favourites. I’ll admit that I cried at all the obvious moments. I knew I would but it was worse than I ever could have guessed. I read a review where somebody complained that including Princess Leia was a mistake because it took him out of the film knowing Carrie Fisher was dead. I’d like to ask him what he thought people would have done had she not appeared at all. Did Leia get the ending that we all wanted her to? No. But did she get a fitting and important one? Yes. She got her chance to become the Skywalker she always was by training Rey but, in the end, she did what she needed to do for her son. It all felt right.
Now, I realise that this isn’t much of a review. I’ll possibly try and write something better later this week. But I was just sad to hear all of the negativity. I know the film is essentially just fan-service but it’s really well-done fan-service. Yes, this is taking us back to the George Lucas era of Star Wars but it’s the (supposedly) last one in the whole saga. It had a lot of loose ends to tie up and, though it didn’t quite manage it, The Rise of Skywalker does provide a fitting end for the whole thing. It’s the most emotionally charged and warm-hearted film that we’ve seen since the original trilogy. Yes, it’s manipulating you but these films have always done that. The Rise of Skywalker is the closest we’ve been to the original trilogy and it made me so happy. This film is predictable but these films are predictable.
Once again, I have to wonder why we now have to pretend that the first 3 films in the franchise were fucking perfect. They never were. They just made you feel good. The Rise of Skywalker could do a lot of things better but it made me feel good. And that makes it feel very Star Wars.
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