Saturday, December 21, 2019

Key Points on Rise of Skywalker Two Days Later

Okay, it took two days to process this movie, but I think I've landed on the following points of closure for myself (both for the film and the Star Wars series in general). SPOILERS

My kid describes Star Wars IX as "weird and exciting" all at once. He has been practicing lightsaber battles for two days, wants an RC droid model for Christmas and spent some time with me hypothesizing and speculating about the film, which I thought was wasn't just me, essentially, but his directive was more basic an earnest than mine. While I was agonizing over insonsistencies, plot holes and story choices that felt too meta or too contrived, he was more interested in questions like, "Was Rey's dad bad like her grandfather or a good guy? Did her mom survive or did they both die? Why is Rey's lightsaber gold at the end? Why was Leia's lightsaber green at one time and blue another time?" Stuff like that.

My son was not concerned (or annoyed) with things I felt were just bad storytelling; I felt that the shots of an infinite number of star destroyers lined up in endless rows erupting from the planet was just stupidly silly, and a stark contrast from the vaguely more realistic depictions of starship fleets seen in every other Star Wars film (particularly the impressive shots of the Empire's fleet from Return of the Jedi). He wasn't noticing the bizarre pace of the film and its effort to cram two films in to one. But in talking to him about Palpatine and Rey I grew to like the idea that this plot point, as ludicrous as it was, actually made some compelling sense in terms of Palpatine's personality and lengthy backstory, particular his obsession with conquering death. It worked, in principle, even if it did a poor job of establishing the background details necessary for the story to make it work well.

In the end a lot of reviewers are pointing out that a fair chunk of this movie should have actually been the basis for the second film; clearly decisions internally at Lucasarts/Disney were not so focused on making a smart trilogy of movies as much as letting auteur interests of the directors and producers take precedence. I firmly believe that in the hands of a better, more focused director this movie would have worked exceedingly well. But then, I think a storyline that did not bring the emperor back (but still left a biological tie to Rey) while focusing on Kylo Ren as the final enemy would have been a more coherent, tighter script. Ah well! At least now it looks like almost all adult Star Wars fans are united on a common antipathy for the final film, even if  the grounds for that antipathy may be wide and varied.


  1. I just got back from it and I loved it. I understand all of the questions, but I've groan to loathe how Star Wars reveals the mysteries. Honestly, I cried through most of the movie.

    I won't lie, part of me wanted to dislike this movie. I hoped that if it was a flop, Disney would fire Kennedy and hire Filoni and/or Favreau.

    I'll be honest here, I loved the Last Jedi too. I loved that a Skywalker learned from his mistakes and I acknowledge the tonal shift in Rise for his character.

    However, to each their own and I respect your opinion.

    1. I envy you! I really wanted to enjoy this film as you did and am frustrated that I didn't get to.