The Rise of Skywalker

After writing this post, I wasn’t going to go and see The Rise of Skywalker but in the end I decided ‘Why not? It’s the last episode of the Star Wars saga (The Skywalker part of it, anyway) so let’s give it a go’.

I took my seat in the cinema and ~ well, I have to say that while I was in the cinema, I did enjoy myself. The action moved at a breathless pace and it was good seeing Rey and the gang (that sounds like an 80s band, doesn’t it!) one last time. The special effects were top notch, light sabre duels will never disappoint, and there were some funny and tender moments to dwell in.

Unfortunately, the film is a sugar rush movie; there is very little in it that is truly nutritious.

What do I mean by this?

Well, as I said, the action moves at a breathless pace. And it keeps moving. It never stops: one daring exploit after another; one explosion after another; one planet, one ship, one fight after another. The film never pauses to catch its breath, or to let its characters develop. The best films combine action and character. The Rise of Skywalker didn’t. I wouldn’t say that the characters existed simply to service the action – the film wasn’t that bad – but they were definitely subservient to it.

For me, character development provides the nutrition of a film because it’s through them that we grow. Like sweets, explosions are great fun – very addictive in their way – but you don’t learn about the human condition through them. Hence, The Rise of Skywalker‘s sugary nature.

The Rise of Skywalker would have been a superb film if its director J. J. Abrams had learnt from The Bourne Ultimatum. There, Paul Greengrass provides a masterclass on how to combine action and character. He does this simply by paying attention to his script to make sure the two are in alignment. Abrams, by contrast, seems to have said, ‘we start at A and end at Z; how do we get there in the loudest way possible?’.

Having said all that, The Rise of Skywalker is the first of the three sequel trilogy films that I would be prepared to buy and put in my DVD library. For all its flaws, something in the film worked and I would like to watch it again to try and uncover what that something is. Plus, however much I like the film or not, Star Wars IX is, by virtue of being the last part of the Skywalker saga, a culturally significant film that anyone who likes film and science fiction ought to own.

What next? Well, as for me, I simply move on. As per my last post (link above), The Rise of Skywalker wasn’t for me, and that’s fine: Deo Gratias, I stopped hating the sequel trilogy last year. I won’t move on very far, though: I still enjoy reading about the Star Wars universe, and especially seeing the memes created around them. There are a lot of super talented people out there.

  • For another take on The Rise of Skywalker, visit my friend John’s blog and read his first class review here

A good thing happened this morning: I made my peace with Star Wars.

Ever since I saw The Force Awakens I have disliked what Disney has done to the Star Wars films. The Force Awakens leaned so heavily on the previous pictures that it became a work of plagiarism; the chief villain, Kylo Ren, was the weakest of his kind I have ever seen. The best thing about The Last Jedi is that it wasn’t (as bad as) The Force Awakens. The story was weak, Kylo Ren still poor – blah.

I disliked Force Awakens intensely; I felt numb towards The Last Jedi. This morning, I watched the last trailer for The Rise of Skywalker and felt – well, at peace; instead of being angry or critical, I thought to myself, You know what, this is not for me but I hope those who do go and see it enjoy it. I thought that to myself, and I meant it. I’ve come a long way, and I am relieved.