I finally saw The Rise of Skywalker this week. And I thought it was good. Not amazing and not terrible. The spectacle of it was very impressive, it was very well shot and well-acted by all involved. As an ending to the Skywalker story/ saga/ whatever you want to call it, I found it very satisfying, with a potential to return to the Skywalkers if the mood takes them at Lucasfilm. And quite honestly, why wouldn’t they leave an avenue open to go back to the core line of the franchise?
I was a little disappointed that they decided not to trust what Rian Johnson did with The Last Jedi. Instead of sticking with the story and themes Johnson had set up, they walked back from a lot of them. And I personally thought that The Last Jedi set up Episode IX to tell a new and interesting story for these new characters. The link to the previous films in the saga was Ben Solo/Kylo Ren. He was the descendant of the Skywalker line, he could be the one rising, although that would have been a bit like calling the last book of The Lord of the Rings trilogy The Return of the King. It rather gives away what is going to happen. But I rather liked the fact that Rey’s parents were not connected to any of the other major characters. That question had its importance pumped up and up by the fanbase, not the creative team. The true identity of Snoke and his level of power was made important by the fanbase. Not the creative team.
One of the things I really liked about The Last Jedi was that it subverted your expectations. Fans thought Rey would be the descendant of one of the major characters, we were told her parents were drunken nobodies who sold her into slavery. Fans thought Luke would have been waiting and preparing for another student, like Yoda. Instead, Luke had fled from the galaxy in despair and guilt, determined that the Jedi Order would die with him. Snoke was built up to be this god-like figure of unimaginable power, yet was killed off very easily. The moral positions of Force users were questioned as well. Did the Jedi truly work for the greater good or did they become dogmatists, unwilling to move and change as time and the galaxy moved and changed around them? That would have been fascinating to explore as the curtain came down on the Skywalker story.
Ultimately, I liked The Rise of Skywalker, I really did. I thought it was well acted, well shot, had good moments of humour, the action was fun to watch and it had some of the swashbuckling, buccaneering feel of the originals. Was it perfect? No, absolutely not. Then again, no Star Wars film apart from The Empire Strikes Back is. They all have their foibles that do detract from them, but they are all extremely watchable.
Star Wars is the new Arthurian legend, tales of brave knights and wise wizards facing terrible conquerors and evil sorcerers. It just happens to be in space, rather than Medieval England. That is something that had always attracted me to Star Wars, its mythos. I’m also happy to accept what Lucasfilm decides to do with the story and the characters and don’t lash out and rage when it doesn’t go in the direction I anticipated or wanted. I’m also interested to see what they decide to do and where they decide to go, what characters and stories they decide to show.
The Force is still strong with this one.