Casual Rambling
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Casual Rambling

Movie Review: Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

Rating: 3 Stars

from CNN.com

There are a variety of ways to approach this film from a critical standpoint and they are valuable to consider. There are loyal Star Wars fans hoping to see a film that invokes the passion of the original trilogy. There are kids with their parents who now have their own trilogies to compare and contrast. There are those who find the Star Wars universe captivating for its imaginative locations, characters, ships, and lightsaber battles. There’s a little something for everyone in The Rise of Skywalker but every group of moviegoers will probably leave with their disappointments or confusion.

from IMDB.com

As a film by itself, I found Rise of Skywalker to be enjoyable for its runtime. In fact, I think all of the films by themselves were exciting to watch, but in putting together a whole trilogy, there were some obvious missteps along the way. Whereas Lucas’ original trilogy and prequel films were a cohesive story, movies 7, 8, and now 9 have threadbare string holding them together.

I come into a film like Star Wars and ask myself two questions when the film ends. How exhilarating was the experience start to finish? Do I want to drop everything and become a Jedi? Rise of Skywalker checked the first box perfectly fine but there’s some room to be desired in the Jedi inspiring category. This is a similar frame of judgment I take with superhero and spy films.

What did hold together through Rise of Skywalker was the development of a resistance seen to fruition. There are genuine moments of personal victory for Poe, the Resistance’s best pilot, and Finn, the First Order deserter.

Rey, now the last living Jedi (kind of I think?), receives her eventual shocking parental revelation that in the grand scheme of things is a movie too late but better late than never. There are moments Rise of Skywalker glances at that probably would’ve had more time and development in the previous film.

The glaring hurdle that this new trilogy and Rise of Skywalker couldn’t overcome was that each film was written by different writers. The time and care taken with the interconnecting threads of Avengers films weren’t properly assessed by the corporate brass at Disney and the result was a trilogy of good movies that aren’t well connected.

If you take the themes at face value, especially with Rise of Skywalker, you should have an enjoyable time. There are moments of cliched dialogue and a few occasions where silence may’ve said more than every character blurting out some nonsense but it’s a minor annoyance.

Traditional Star Wars fan purists will have the most disdain towards Rise of Skywalker as the tone of the film evokes a cross of Disney togetherness crossed with Harry Potter-esque structure and action sequences. Force powers aren’t as subtle as they were in the past.

What will get lost in all the debate and discussion concerning how the story unfolded is the spectacular performances by Adam Driver and John Boyega. No sleight to great performances by Daisy Ridley and Oscar Issac and the cast as a whole but Driver has the range to do a lot of different projects blockbuster or art house in his career. Boyega placards himself as a trustworthy and endearing supporting character who has also assured a long career ahead of him.

Ridley and Issac should have no issues moving to new roles either as they already have major films in post but their roles in Rise of Skywalker likely won’t transcend them into the annals of film history. They’ll have to make their enduring marks elsewhere. The only other brief notable performance was by Naomi Ackie who is a relative unknown and will likely be landing major supporting roles in the next few years.

The Rise of Skywalker was at its best early on involving chase sequences where Poe Dameron was forced to pull a new trick called hyperspace jumping narrowly evading tie fighters, avoiding asteroids, and dodging space monsters. My favorite chase sequences involved sand speeder skiffs where Rey, Poe, and Finn were pursued by stormtroopers with speeders and jetpacks.

Some of the later revealing sequences were hit and miss as the writers had time to tie up some loose ends but rush through others. Considering how disjointed the entire process of this new Star Wars trilogy has been from a story perspective, the Rise of Skywalker pulled out all the stops it could for better and worse.

One glaring omission I’ll probably get struck down by lightning for by even bringing up is the lack of John Williams blessing the Star Wars universe with one unforgettable orchestral piece. It’s worthy to consider that a Duel of the Fates like production would’ve added much more gravitas rather than the usual compositions. This isn’t to say what Williams does with the soundtrack is bad or even disappointing. Williams does get a moment to touch on the theme of the Resistance during the final battle, but it doesn’t hit the high point that it did in The Force Awakens.

The voices of the internet and critics will have their way with this film and this series until the inevitable release of new Star Wars content. Star Wars will never recapture the novelty the original trilogy did because it was a bold yet simple story existing in an imaginative universe. Star Wars finds itself in a similar holding pattern to Disney’s other massive property Marvel. The conundrum relates back to the infinite resources providing a well-designed and thrilling experience, but with so many people to answer to, bold and artistic vision are often moved to the wayside.

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J. King

J. King

Not your average Medium rambler