STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Review

THE RISE OF FAN SERVICE

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ALSO READ: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Review by Jo Hyde

ALSO READ: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Review by Bryan Chatlien

SYNOPSIS: No one’s ever really gone… Rey’s journey continues and the Skywalker saga concludes in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, coming December 2019.

Even though Batman is my favorite fictional character of all time; Star Wars remains my favorite franchise of all time.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (written by Chris Terrio & JJ Abrams) is the last film, in the 9-part Skywalker saga that George Lucas launched in 1977 with “Star Wars” (later deemed, Episode IV: A New Hope. And yes Bill, we know you saw it in the theater when it came out, old man).

I was able to see an early screening (thanks to BOF!) held for online press on Tuesday — and I left the theater with a feeling of conflict, disappointment, excitement and fulfillment.

To say this film is a mixed bag for me, would be quite an understatement.

Let me address a few issues I had with the film and then end on what I loved about it. Because that is the kind of a guy I am. Always ending with positive feelings!

Rian Johnson’s 2017 “The Last Jedi” was a critically acclaimed, bold and beautiful film. The issue that Lucasfilm had with it, is that online fandom (relatively small, but loud group of folks) basically hated it.  And when you have several thousand people trolling and spamming the internet with their ire of a movie, it can eventually morph itself into validity.

In other words, the fans that hated it and were so active on social media with said hatred, that they succeeded in owning the narrative to an otherwise very successful movie.

Setting aside the racist/sexist faction of that fandom, lets address the thousands of good faith fans that truly hated Luke’s arc, Rey’s lack of backstory (who are her parents?!), Snoke’s origin, etc.

Director JJ Abrams and his co-writer Chris Terrio seem to go out of their way to please those fans.  Far too much of The Rise of Skywalker feels like contrived fan service that reacts directly to the online fandom that hated The Last Jedi.

And it weighs down the film, a bit.

Now, I would argue that if the online backlash did not exist — or if I was unaware of it — then I don’t think I would view this film from that perspective.  (Example: My wife is 100% unaware of online fandom, she liked The Last Jedi and I bet she will love TROS.)  But in the end, it does exist and The Rise of Skywalker often plays like an unnecessary apology letter to a relatively small portion of pissed off fans.

With that said — and I say this as someone that absolutely loves The Last Jedi — many crucial elements from that movie remain, and JJ Abrams incorporates them beautifully into the new film.

So, for every “apologetic” moment, there is also lovely moments that 100% pay homage to The Last Jedi.

And for that, I am grateful.

It is also worth noting, that once again the cast is stellar.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is, by far, the most interesting Star Wars character ever to be put on film.  I would even go as far to say that The Rise of Skywalker is as much his story, as it is Rey’s (my 3rd favorite Star Wars character, right behind Luke).

Plus, many of the “fan service” moments land; and when they do, it will make you want to stand up on your feet and explode with joy.  For someone that loves all 3 trilogies, those moments were a real treat for me.

In the end, is The Rise of Skywalker a mixed bag?

Sure.

But even though I rolled my eyes more times than I did watching The Phantom Menace for the first time, I also cried for the first time while watching a Star Wars movie.

Cried.

Like, actual tears.

Three times.

Also, I am looking forward to seeing it again this week and who knows, maybe I will like it even more than I do now.

Please go see it. Enjoy it. And ignore online noise, too.

After you do, I will gladly accept your acknowledgement that you now know just how brilliant The Last Jedi truly was. – Rick Shew

GRADE: B

PS: Billy Dee Williams is still the coolest guy in the room.