Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – Opening Night Thoughts

The Rise of Skywalker (2019)When I checked into the movie theater last night for the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker premier I had this to say: “For this… a long time have I waited. End of an era this is.” When I updated my Facebook status a few hours later I said this: “The Rise of Skywalker… wow. No spoilers from me but I’ll simply say this. Satisfying.”

The fact that we were able to get what I feel is a satisfying ending to a saga that began 42 years ago and has consumed more than it’s fair share of my brainpower over the last four decades is a monumental achievement in and of itself. I can’t even imagine the pressure that director J.J. Abrams must have felt to be the director chosen to complete the story and in many people’s eyes ‘fix’ what transpired in The Last Jedi. This movie isn’t perfect and will certainly have its haters but I have to say that overall it think it did a tremendous job tying things together.

Spoiler Alert: I’m not going to bother with a plot summary. Either you have already seen it and are coming here for my thoughts or you can find far better resources out there on the web to give you a summary. That said, I will speak openly about plot points and characters so consider this a spoiler filled discussion.  If you don’t want to be spoiled, skip this post until after you’ve seen the film.

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Still here? Seriously, I’m about to start with some spoiler filled thoughts. Ready? Still with me? I’m not quite sure how I’m going to get through this. Might just start typing and see what comes out. OK, here goes…

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Thoughts

Wow. Lots to process here. Is this a perfect movie? Far from it. But I’ll stand by my initial thoughts and say that it’s a totally satisfying way to end the Skywalker saga.

If you know me even a little bit you know that I’m a Star Wars guy through and through. I’ve been ‘all in’ since the first time I saw it and with the exceptions of some midichlorian bumps along the road I’ve really never wavered. I may like Transformers, GI Joe and the MCU but they all pale in comparison to my love for Star Wars. The fact that I got to experience opening night with my boys (well two of them) last night was really special for me.

All of that being said, I really enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker. I stayed pretty much spoiler free heading in and candidly I didn’t really know what I ‘wanted’ to happen. Keep in mind that I’ve only seen it once and I didn’t sit there taking notes so this is from memory but I’ll do my best to answer some of the big questions I had leading into the flick and provide some thoughts as I go.

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Is the Palpatine laugh from the trailer a flashback or real?

Palpatine is very much alive. In fact you see him in the first few minutes of the flick. I appreciated this as I was sort of worried that we’d go the entire movie and never see him until the very end similar to the way they treated Luke in The Force Awakens. It was REALLY good to see him back as ‘the big bad’ once again.

Is there more to Rey’s backstory other than what was laid out in The Last Jedi?

Yep. Big time. Her lineage is given to us in black and white. I’ll pat myself on the back here and say that I called this one… well before The Rise of Skywalker was even announced. I’m certainly not the only one that had this theory but this played out exactly as I had foreseen and it was really pretty compelling.

Is it as bad as The Last Jedi?

First off, let’s not forget that The Last Jedi was one of, if not the, highest grossing films of 2017. While it wasn’t my favorite film in the franchise it had some really good moments too and it took a lot of risks that I can really appreciate. I get really irritated by people, even now, shitting on it every chance they get. That said, if I had to guess I’d say that ROS will probably pull in a shit ton of money, probably more than TLJ just on the strength of the fact that it’s the LAST film.

Are there any cameos? Does (insert character) come back?

You’re going to get Jedi voices galore here. You’ll get force ghosts, some you’ve seen in previous entries, some you’ve not. And yes, there are a couple of cameos, one in particular that I didn’t see coming that I absolutely loved. No… Baby Yoda doesn’t show up. Snoke does not return nor do Darth Maul, Captain Phasma or Jar Jar Binks. I’m not going to bother listing all of the characters that aren’t in this movie but those are a few specifically that I’d seen people asking about.

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Carrie Fisher – Princess / General Leia

I was real worried about this. As we all know, we lost Carrie Fisher before The Last Jedi was released and her character made it through that film. Personally I thought that was a mistake but I’m not the director. That left us with a bigger problem of how we deal with Leia here. There was a slew of footage that was shot for The Force Awakens which has been weaved together here to give Leia her story. I’m happy to say that it’s done REALLY well and with maybe one exception all of her scenes look great and fit right in.

Do I need to have seen all the previous films to watch this one?

This doesn’t have as many prerequisite viewing materials as Avengers: Endgame but if you haven’t watched The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi you’re going to be really lost here. You’d also really need to have seen Return of the Jedi. If you’re coming in totally blind you could get by with those three films and you’d be good. The prequels can be skipped entirely as can A New Hope, Empire, Solo and Rogue One. That said, those films are awesome and you should have already seen them 😉

Where does it rank in the saga? 

This is a tricky one as it’s SUPER subjective. I’d say it’s probably better than all three prequels and The Last Jedi. It’s probably a better film than The Force Awakens but I think I had more fun watching TFA, though that may be due to the fact that it was the first one in quite a while. The original trilogy and Rogue One still rank well above this in my book though again… that may be just because of my age.

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What I loved…

I got goosebumps several times throughout the film. There’s a speech that Poe gives that’s chilling. There’s quite a bit of awesome lightsaber stuff here. There’s a scene here with Rey that eerily similar to Tony Stark’s “And I… am… Iron Man” scene from Endgame that might be my favorite of the entire saga. Dark Rey was a spot that really shouldn’t have been given away during a trailer cause it was really awesome as was the other trailer scene with all the ships showing up. Wow.

This is a spoiler filled review but there’s one thing that I’m not going to talk about. It made me audibly gasp and then give a fist pumping “YES!”. It was fan service and provided a redemption that I didn’t think was possible all in one fell swoop. It was perfect.

What I had problems with… 

As I said before The Rise of Skywalker isn’t a perfect film. It’s not even a perfect Star Wars film. It’s really long and there’s a lot going on, sometimes to its detriment. There are Force powers that are introduced here that while REALLY cool also seem REALLY contrived. Kylo and Rey can transfer physical items across the cosmos. Think Nancy taking Freddy’s hat out of a dream into the real world in A Nightmare on Elm Street. This power leads to one of the best moments in all of Star Wars but it doesn’t feel earned as its brand new. The new Force healing is also a necessary thing for the way things play out that seems rather convenient to me.

There’s some ‘bumpy’ dialogue here as well and they’re trying to cram SO much in that there were several times when I said ‘huh’ cause I didn’t quite understand what was going on. This wasn’t made for a non Star Wars fan but if you’re not really well versed in the Star Wars universe you’re going to be even more confused than I was on occasion.

Recommendation

Not surprisingly I’ve seen reviews that run the gamut from ‘This is awesome’ to ‘This is the worst Star Wars movie ever’. I’m not sure why it’s become so en vogue to shit on Star Wars but that really sort of hurts me to the core. I spose it’s just the social media bitch and moan world we live in and I need to get used it. That said, for THIS Star Wars fan this was an ultimately satisfying conclusion to a movie franchise that I’ve been in love with for as long as I can remember. There was fan service galore, callbacks and cameos. It wasn’t a reboot of a previous installment but it had more than enough of the ‘formula’ that makes a good Star Wars film.

I got goosebumps. I welled up. I laughed. I cheered. I was there on opening night with two of my boys, sharing the love of a movie franchise that I was introduced to when I was there age. I certainly look at these films through rose colored glasses but I’m not blinded enough to tell you it’s perfect. What I’ll say is this – go see it. If you’ve invested the time and effort over the years that I have you owe it to yourself to see how the saga ends. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Have you seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

1 thought on “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – Opening Night Thoughts

  1. Nightmare on Elm Street, ? spot on.
    I enjoyed the film as well. Could every movie be better…probably. I’m a 43 year old kid that never would’ve thought all this Star Wars and comic book stuff would be living as it is today and I am super happy for it.
    Goodbye Skywalker…you have been an amazing part of this kids life.

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