There’s something to be said for being able to go out with some class…
It’s a unique situation to be sure because Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker was never going to be something that made everyone happy considering some of the online backlash at The Last Jedi and the fact that these films are a pop culture moment that have marked the lives of countless people all across the globe. While the film has a break neck pace in its first hour as it tries to wrap up as many loose ends at it can there’s simply no denying that it’s a satisfying and respectful ending to a cinematic saga that has defined multiple generations of movie-goers. As a critic and a fan, I honestly don’t see how it could have ended up much better than this.
No one’s ever really gone… Rey’s journey continues and the Skywalker saga concludes in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in the continuing quest for peace and balance in the known universe.
We’ll be the first to admit that Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker actually could have been a solid 20 minutes longer as we pick up the action an indeterminate amount of time after the events of The Last Jedi. The screenplay from writers Chris Terrio, JJ Abrams, Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly actually strikes a pretty decent balance in catering to some of the fan boy requests and complaints after The Last Jedi it just does it at a break neck speed since it wants to fit into a certain time window so it can be turned over for maximum screenings in a day.
Sure it explains away the occasional story point in a bit too much of an ‘Oh, by the way’ type fashion but there’s never any head scratching moments as the saga returned to feeling much more organic then it did in the last film. And for the record, we really liked The Last Jedi BECAUSE it tried to push buttons and at least shift the definition of the franchise and while it never 100% backs away from some of that we do find ourselves back on course in somewhat more of a traditional fashion that will make you laugh, make you cry and make you cheer even though you can see some of them coming because let’s be honest with ourselves, getting to experience all those emotions is really why we go to these movies in the first place.
Obviously the direction is first rate and the action sequences are exciting and innovative, none of which is a surprise to be fair. Instead the real eye opening moments came in the character moments, even though they we’re a little too few and far between.
From a character standpoint, the hard work is really put in here by Daisy Ridley & Oscar Isaac. Ridley has really managed to find Rey this time out, not only as a character looking to piece together her past but also in encapsulating the turmoil of emotion that is expected in a character that is finding herself pulled between the darkness and the light. Rey is a mess and one who knows that she can’t quite explain everything that she’s discovering about herself, Ridley leans into it all with a genuine confidence because while we know she’s a genuine ass-kicking bad ass, just under the surface she’s an insecure mess not quite sure how to live up to the expectations she’s putting on herself.
Sliding more into the leadership role this time out is Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. While we spend the bulk of The Last Jedi seeing him as an impulsive hothead, this film allows him to channel that as the wisdom and teaching of those around him is finally starting to kick in. Being a leader of men or a hero has never been about having the skill set to do it all, it’s about having the courage to embrace those qualities in the face of long odds and certain failure. While we’ll probably never see these characters again in any way shape or form they successfully take the mantles left them and improve upon things where others could not.
That’s kind of the whole point of Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker as it’s essentially a metaphor reminding us to appreciate the past, but embrace the new all at the same time. That’s how we find balance in our lives, it may not be as all knowing or as important sounding as ‘The Force’ but when you boil it all down to brass tacks, it’s just as important. Drawing strength from the past is how we all shape our futures and in this galaxy far, far away it looks like the future is going to be just fine.