Thursday, January 9, 2020

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action, effects, fun, wraps up story mostly well
Cons: A few storytelling holes never get filled in
The Bottom Line:
Jedi and Sith fight
Concludes its third trilogy
Good wrap up for fans

“We’re In This Until the End.”

We’ve reached the end of an era.  Oh, you can quit laughing now.  I fully expect them to go back to the original Star Wars saga at some point, but for now, Star Wars Episode IX:The Rise of Skywalker is the climax of the original storyline for this franchise.  The movie has some issues despite its long running time, but it does as good a job as it can of wrapping things up.

As we drop in this time, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is relishing his role as the supreme leader of the First Order.  He is prepared to crush the Resistance once and for all, but a mysterious summons brings him to a meeting with a shocking new ally.

Meanwhile, what is left of the Resistance is trying to figure out how to counter the First Order.  Rey (Daisy Ridley) is focusing on her Jedi training while Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) work on battle plans.  But when they get bad news with a firm deadline to respond, the three must travel the galaxy in search of a way to stop the coming annihilation.  Will they be able to stop it?

I am being incredibly vague here.  I fully realize that.  Even though the movie has been out for several weeks now, I’m trying to avoid spoilers.

I’m of two minds about this movie.  Overall, I enjoyed it.  There is action as our heroes fight against overwhelming odds.  We get great space battles.  We get the force.  It has everything you’d expect from a Star Wars movie.  If you just sit back and watch, it’s a very fun movie.

However, the story has some issues.  Most noticeable to me is a plot point introduced, teased a second time, and then never paid off.  Seriously?  Don’t introduce something if you aren’t going to pay it off.  That’s storytelling 101.  Okay, so it’s a minor issue in the movie overall (not sure why it has bothered me so much), but there are some other rather major issues with the story.  Despite the fact that the movie is two and a half hours, we don’t get the hows to some of the pretty major plot points explained.  I guess I’ve become so accustomed to Hollywood storytelling that this part didn’t bother me as much.  And the transition between this one and the previous movie seems a bit rough to me, too, although it has been a couple years since I watched The Last Jedi.

Having said that, we did get answers to the big questions here.  I was only caught off guard by one of these revelations.  Most of the time when there was a big reveal of some kind, I was a bit ahead of the movie, but that didn’t dampen my enjoyment at all.

Let me reiterate, I did enjoy the movie.  I like this new cast, and they have some great scenes together.  We get some good laughs thanks to C-3PO and the other droids.  The acting is uniformly good.  And the action and effects are great.

Speaking of effects, they do a good job of working General Leia into the movie despite the fact that Carrie Fisher sadly passed away right before the last movie came out.  It’s obvious that they use lots of effects to make her part of the film, but I bought it.

There are several moments that are definitely nods to fans, designed to please them as the saga wraps up.  Some of them were more blatant than others, but I still enjoyed them all.  I did feel these nods were more nods and less recycled storytelling, which was my biggest complaint with The Force Awakens.

One thing that stuck out to me is how they played out the theme of standing up for what is right and working together.  This has been an ongoing theme in the series, but I really liked how they stated it here.

Obviously, this film isn’t perfect, but overall, I was satisfied with how the Skywalker Saga wrapped up.  I’ve seen some mixed reactions, but overall reaction to The Rise of Skywalker has been positive, and I’m right there with the majority.

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