The Rise of Skywalker has much in common with the advert for Sky featuring E.T. the extraterrestrial that preceded the movie at my showing. In it we see the return of a wrinkly old character with great powers, a returning actor happy to cash in on previous stardom, and some other characters who get no development as we rush to the conclusion of the story which is just a replay of previous plot points from the old film. The point of the content is to serve fans and sell product.
At least that’s how my cynical adult brain viewed it. Ask the child inside me (the part of me that almost teared up watching the damn advert, never mind the conclusion of Leia’s storyline in Rise of Skywalker) and you will get a different view. I am of course a lifelong fan of Star Wars for good or ill, and really it’s mostly good. 90% I’d say. And Im happy to say, that goes for the film too.
By the way, before I go on, let me say that this post, for a change, is pretty much free of major spoilers.
The new characters featured in the trailer get very little in the way of screen time, but the film isn’t about them it’s really about Rey, her friends and the will-they-won’t-they (in all sorts of ways) relationship she has with her nemesis Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo. It’s also about J. J. Abrams trying to put right, or explain parts of, The Last Jedi that some viewers may have found troublesome and wrap up the whole Skywalker Saga in a way which doesn’t leave fans with a bad feeling about it.
I have to admit I didn’t care as much about this film going in as I might have. I didn’t get the usual goosebumps I get when I hear the opening fanfare (mostly because it was drowned out by people’s popcorn) and I wasn’t making a silent prayer to the gods of Hollywood like I did when I went to see Blade Runner 2049 full of trepidation.
This is mostly because I know by now how J. J. Abrams works – there would be some reverent re-use of scenes from the previous film, a lot of fan-service (he’ll get his own medal one of these days) and a lot of grand scenes upping the ante and piling on the pressure for the main characters to look like they’re failing and then win the day. It seems like a simple formula but to give ol’ ‘safe hands’ Abrams his due he rarely disappoints.
I wouldn’t go so far to say that the resulting movie is ‘anti-Last Jedi’ but it will definitely pour some soothing lotion on those over-sensitive fans hurt by the last instalment. I loved it and so I actually feared J. J. would go too far in ‘putting things right’. He didn’t and so I walked away thinking okay that was good, better than meh, but I felt that it didn’t really have any great surprises despite the spectacle.
While the story rushes to its inevitable conclusion and explanation of the obfuscating title, there’s a lot of eye-candy on screen – lightsaber duels, the most use of the force in exciting ways we’ve ever seen, a return to some cool locations, and a big-ass spaceship battle. There’s a couple of fun characters, callbacks to previous movies, some good laughs around C3PO and of course the return of Emperor Palpatine which should come as no shock to anyone since his voice is in the trailer and it gets called out in the iconic opening crawl of the movie.
Anyway enjoy it. I will let other reviewers provide the spoilers and go on the inevitable Easter egg hunt. Thankfully this time, I don’t think there will also be a witch hunt….