This is not going to end like you think.
Ok, so obviously there’s a lot of SPOILERS coming your way, however… If you are looking for the entire movie narration, this is not the review you’re looking for. This is only going to make some sense if you’ve seen the movie. Although I won’t come out and say the outcome out right, I will discuss the consequence and that is enough for most SW fans to deduce the storyline. Stop reading, go see the film, come back.
Since I’ve already told you to go see the film, you can probably guess that I believe this is a film that’s worth seeing in a theatre. Well… It is not perfect and some things work better than others but there are so many nods both little and huge that some will be brain candy to the fandom while some will be annoying when they don’t go anywhere. The overall plot might be worth your time. That being said, you do need to leave the jaded critic behind. Not to say that a critic won’t enjoy it, but there’s so much pluses of seeing this as a fan.
That’s enough of being vague. Let’s get to some concrete stuff. There’s been a process of transition since The Force Awakens as classic characters pass the mantle to new ones. This continues here, although I have to say the way it’s done is both expected and new. There’s a bit of an insolence in the film for the grandiose gestures of old. Luke throwing the lightsaber. The tree that gets hits by lightning. The Snoke confrontation. For classic fans, it feels disrespectful at first. Some of these are even played out as humorous. The ways of old sometimes must be challenged by the new. I guess.
Not everything lands. The plot device this time is literally survival. The Resistance is being hunted towards extinction. There’s some sort of a plan that challenges the status quo, and gets stopped in the freaking middle when it goes awry to never complete. The Rebellion literally seems conflicted because they don’t talk/trust each other. Newcomer Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) doesn’t trust Commander/Captain Poe Dameron therefore she tells him nothing. Poe doesn’t trust Admiral Holdo therefore he acts on his own. Holdo and Dameron could have talked to each other openly and avoided unnecessary (and costly) conflict. The First Order side doesn’t do better.
And perhaps that’s what my calculating cold heart cringed at the most. The tactical decisions in this movie seem to be desperate on the Resistance side and relying on pure brute force on the First Order. Don’t expect any Thrawn-level strategies. Even Vader was more calculating by the time that he was in command of the Executor than any of the villains in this one. That being said, Luke does make a huge gamble that pays off. The Jedi Master does have some badass moments in this one although they do go over the top sometimes.
Jedi wise, everything you think about the Jedi order is challenged. Sometimes that comes from Rey, sometimes from Kylo/Ben and even sometimes from Luke himself. Not to mention someone else that I honestly did NOT expected to appear. It’s a good thing, though. The Jedi were not infallible, and even the best intentions do not result in the best outcomes.
Carrie Fisher’s last appearance as General Leia Organa is a rather dignified one. She’s the force behind the Resistance, its very spark. But even the former Princess of Alderaan has moments in which she yields to the new generation.
Mark Hamill reprises his role of Luke Skywalker with some amazing moments, including one that seems to bring his role and his story arc full circle. The most tender moment is his encounter with Leia. There’s a lot of Mark and Carrie in that moment, which you know will be their last onscreen time together.
Note: Full disclosure, I have edited my recommendation since watching the Rise of Skywalker.
Barely recommended. It doesn’t work in context with the other ones. It’s a homage to a Star Wars movie. It’s not the second coming and it’s not going to replace any of the classic trilogy films. Is it a Star Wars sequel? Actually, it feels very much like a conclusion. Director Rian Johnson even feels like adding something at the very end that has the feeling of a good-bye. Unfortunately it’s a step backwards from the last and the next one will mostly erase stuff from this one.
Highs, Lows and Porgs:
- Let’s discuss the Porg in the room. Yes, the porgs are in it. No, they’re not instant superheroes or anything like that. They just show up, make eyes at you and scamper on their merry way.
- Is Kylo Ren better at being a villain this time around? He seems to be on his way to becoming a bigger threat, but he’s no Sith yet. There’s the hidden significance of him destroying his helmet. Somehow that makes him less of a Vader fanboy but I’m also more inclined to call him Kylo than Ben.
- On the other hand, Rey is a better Jedi in this one. There is still darkness here, but rather than elude it, Rey goes right to it. The whole mystery of her background seems to be downplayed in this one to the point of being inconsequential. However, since it’s Kylo telling her this, it could be tainted information.
- The fundamentals of the Jedi doctrine are challenged. Luke himself realizes he still has things to unlearn, which becomes even more obvious the moment he sees… I can’t say it. You have to see that moment in the movie with your own eyes.
- Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher steal the movie a lot. They’ve got some of the best lines as well. I won’t give them away, but they’re really making me consider a second viewing.
- Okey one example without fully giving it away. Luke tells R2-D2 that there’s nothing they could say that would make him go back. What R2-D2 does next made me cry on the very spot. Luke’s reaction to it: “That was a low blow.”
- I did love the character of Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran). Benicio del Toro’s character is almost a cameo. Plus, I would’ve loved them to actually pick on the Expanded Universe lingo. A codebreaker might be an easy to figure out term for a hacker, but the proper term is a splicer. Sorry, I know why codebreaker was just easier – plus this whole side plot never matures. Never.
- One of the most obvious things in this movie is how the plot doesn’t resemble any specific film. On the other hand, there’s some side quests that feel unnecessary. And about the whole Admiral Holdo thing (Laura Dern), I guess that was a strategy but it was still a losing one. Can’t really cheer much when you’re still running away.
- In the end it feels like certain things that showed promise ended up disappointingly short (Phasma, Snoke, Holdo). There was so much more character development for Rey, Poe and Kylo while Finn got a side story that didn’t seem to go anywhere.
- There’s a sense of where do we go from here at the end, as we get this short scene with a kid that seems to almost be a sendoff for the entire series (or one of the zillion SW ads out there). It has been quite a long, long movie but somehow I didn’t feel the 152 minutes of runtime. Hardly perfect but watchable.
That will do for now.