Since I blogged about the first two movies in the new trilogy of Star Wars movies, I’ve felt kind of obligated to write about the third one too. It was delayed on my part because I only saw it on a streaming service at Disney+ which came to Denmark this summer.
Apart from The Mandalorian, Disney+ has really opened my eyes for both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels – quite late to the party – but that is, as they say, an entirely different story.
But even when it was available at Disney+ a few months ago, I kept postponing my first viewing of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker both because of the general lacklustre reviews and because of how I found the first two movies lacking in so many departments. I only got to finally watch it yesterday.
Maybe it was because I had lowered my expectations, but I actually thought it wasn’t that bad!
One of the criticisms I’ve heard is how the movie kind of hit the reset button, ignoring many events taking place in the second movie, but that’s not true. For example, Rey’s parents and her heritage are revealed and turns out that she did indeed have quite an interesting ancestor, yet Ren still insists that her own parents were still nothing special. That’s okay. I can live with that.
The movie was also more coherent that I expected, and it had epic set pieces. I was never bored.
One of the biggest points of critiscism I had about episode 7 was how much it had aped from episode 4. I thought that at least for the first two thirds of this movie, the writers tried to do mostly their own thing. Then in the end they sadly just had to go and repeat the end of episode 6 with barely a few surroundings and details conveniently switched around.
That was certainly disappointing, but at least is was so infused with epic that I almost bought it anyway.
Let’s move into more specific spoilers.
The things I liked
I actually liked that Emperor Palpatine returning was touched upon right in the beginning of the movie. It made me get used to the idea and thus made it feel less of an awkward twist as he appeared again in the final confrontation with Rey and Kylo Ren. Had he only appeared for the first time at that late point in the movie, there would have been a lot more eye-rolling on my part.
But a white-eyed Palpatine with tubes, looking like a Zombie? What the hell, why not. It’s been a while.
So it turned out that Rey’s ancestor were none other than the mighty Emperor Palpatine. Maybe that could at least partly explain why Rey had been such a Mary Sue in the first two movies. Talented? Indeed.
If you’ve read my first blog post about episode 7, you may remember that I was sad about Leia not having had any proper Jedi training. Turns out she did. There’s a small flashback to young Luke and Leia fighting together with light sabers. I really liked that. I just wish Leia had been more blatant about it in the previous two movies, instead of only demonstrating how she could float in the vacuum of space.
Finn used a fixed laser cannon to destroy the bridge of an important star destroyer in the end of the movie. So yeah, Finn was finally useful – nice change after his futilities in the previous movies.
I also liked that Rose didn’t have much screen time here. I honestly never really liked her character.
There were a couple of new things I haven’t seen in any of the animated shows, even though they certainly had a ton of ideas on their own. One was how Ren and Rey used the force to push aside the opponent’s lightsaber. The other one was Poe using hyperspace skipping on the Millennium Falcon.
I liked the questions that were risen when Rey suddenly had sparks flying from a hand while in that force tug contest with Ren in the desert. We have only seen dark side wielders being able to do that. So was it possible for the light side to do this after all too? Or was that Rey turning dark for just a moment?
It was a good idea to let Kylo Ren have sort of a vision of his father, Han Solo, delivering the last few wise words and Ren sort of apologizing. I guess it was mostly fan service, but it worked well for me.
And they were riding on a star destroyer! I liked that. Sure, it was silly – yet not too silly for Star Wars.
Probably the biggest “woah” moment was when Lando arrived in the end of the movie with reinforcements. I have never seen so many spaceships in one scene in any franchise. It was almost too much. Almost.
The things I didn’t like
Seeing Lando again was nice, but he felt too much like fan service for the most part.
And of course, Lando just had to utter the hackneyed old quote, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this!” As if it wasn’t bad enough that you get to hear that a dozen times or so in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Literally.
And yes, I used that last word correctly.
I was never entirely comfortable about how Rey and Kylo Ren was able to affect physical objects across their long distanced visions. Especially the first example where Ren ripped her necklace off made me look like I was sucking a lemon. It made more sense in the end of the movie where they sort of handed each other a lightsaber behind their backs, but still.
I could almost hear Han Solo’s ghost utter the fitting words of “That’s not how the force works!”
But then, why not just continue with this bending of the force laws while we’re at it, like how the ghost of Luke could grab the lightsaber that Rey was trying to throw away? Groan.
And why would Rey want to heal Ren when she had finally had some luck thrusting her lightsaber through his chest? I know it served the ending well that he lived, but it still felt a bit too convenient.
Think how interesting it would have been if Kylo Ren had truly been out of the picture at that point.
It was cunning how The First Order now had another, more sinister looking leader on the star destroyer next to General Hux. I bet Hux’s incompetence in the previous movies made the writers realize they had to somehow step that up, introducing a different guy with just the right level of intimidation and attitude.
After Ren and Rey’s force tug contest blew up a shuttle that we had seen Chewie being brought into as a prisoner, I was just as certain as our heroes that he died right there. Then he turned up on a star destroyer. How did that happen!? I didn’t see him transferred to another ride at any point. It felt like a key scene was missing here just for the sake of surprising the audience. That should have been reworked.
When C3-PO was opened up for a modification and a memory wipe, I thought the back of his head looked just a little too simplistic. Wires and a lot of air. Where’s the droid brain? Is that just a tiny chip?
A little bit too much he dies, she dies, he resurrects her, he dies in the end. Together with the notion that Emperor Palpatine is “every Sith ever” and Rey becomes “every Jedi ever,” it went for epic twists that were a little hard to swallow. Why don’t you force push a galaxy, now you’re at it?
And then, all that sentimental celebration. I almost had to wipe my screen clean of syrup afterwards.
Still, I’ve seen worse in the previous two movies. In fact, considering how much rubbish this last movie had to clean up and continue, I think they did an honorable job trying to tie up the ends.