The Rise of Skywalker is no cinematic masterpiece. But as a rousing finale to the new trilogy, and a tribute to the past, it suffices.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Synopsis
Following the death of Snoke, Darth Sidious i.e. Emperor Palpatine resurfaces, revealing that everything has been his ploy to regain power. He also offers Kylo Ren an armada of Imperial Star Destroyers, in exchange for Kylo’s subservience. Meanwhile, Rey struggles with her Jedi training under Leia, often also embattled by her continued mental connection with Kylo. When her allies and she learn about Palpatine’s offer, they travel to the desert planet of Pasaana to locate a Sith Wayfinder, an artifact that would guide them to the revived emperor. There, Rey finally discovers the truth about her family.
On the day The Rise of Skywalker was released, my social media feeds were inundated by notifications for a slew of starkly divided reviews.
Some notable critics were lukewarm in their responses; Singaporean media, on the other hand, were highly enthusiastic. Most private and blog reviews were … a Force Storm of criticisms.
My visual summary above makes it clear that I enjoyed this conclusion, so I’ll leave it as that. Instead, I’ll comment on the “new” trilogy in general.
- I feel the new trilogy is better than the prequels, and not just because of the effects or production values, or acting. I feel the new trilogy does a better job at exploring the nature of the Force and the characters involved.
- All three episodes are weighed down by fan service and fan expectations. I’ve mentioned before in older posts that Rey’s story is no worse than the Expanded Universe i.e. Legends spinoffs. The problem though, I believe most fans have very intense expectations of how Canon should be handled. Thus all the criticisms, especially for The Last Jedi (which I loved).
- Episode IX further succumbs to such expectations and obligations for fan service, which the franchise survives on. The story is so obviously based on the Dark Empire comic spinoff; renaming Byss as Exegol doesn’t hide it. About this, I find the necessary plot changes very abrupt. There was nothing leading to this development in the previous two episodes.
- Also, I dislike the big revelation about Rey. It ret-cons the point established in the previous episode that the Force is impartial to heritage. I hope there wasn’t any socio-political reason behind this move.
- Realistically, is it possible to produce a new Star Wars movie without any fan hatred? The Mandalorian strongly suggests it’s possible. And yet for a Canon movie, I doubt it would be as easy. This is not helped by the tragic fact that the Empire’s disdain for non-white humanoid races has intensified on our world.
- As someone who has loved the franchise since 1977, who has watched every episode in a cinema, and who detests the Expanded Universe novels, I’ll say I tremendously enjoyed the new trilogy. Yes, there were many cringe-worthy moments and twists, a lot of these involving excessive fan service. But awful? Unworthy? No, not at all to me. I wouldn’t even mind another trilogy produced by the same people; yeah, I’ll go to the extent of saying that. I say so because I do not expect Star Wars movies to be perfect. Actually, why do some viewers even hope for that? Was the original trilogy, even ESB, that flawless?