The Rise of Skywalker

The 516th film I have seen in theaters…

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The Skywalker Saga comes to a close

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A mysterious message has broadcast across the galaxy. Palpatine lives and is taking back control. The heroes go on an adventure to find lost Sith relics, Palpatine, and end the Sith forever.

Yup, after the info-dump I gave for TLJ, this is all you get…. lol. There will be story spoilers in the Cast section.

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Adam Driver finishes his work as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. Some are not happy at the way he ended, but I was 100% okay with it. He confronts Rey on the Death Star wreckage, loses the fight just as his mother dies, sending the last of her light side energy to help him turn. He tosses his saber away and becomes Ben Solo again. He stands with Rey in the final battle and uses force healing to save her life. This exertion kills him and he fades away into the force. Some are complaining that Rey should have been the one to die, but I disagree. What future did Ben have? He is space Hitler, or at the very least a Martin Bormann. His death had purpose, and it was a fitting redemptive end for the last Skywalker.

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Daisy Ridley completes Rey’s journey to becoming a Jedi. Along the way she discovers a secret, her parents weren’t just junk traders. They chose to hide away on Jakku to protect Rey from her grandfather – Emperor Palpatine. Rey spends the film struggling against the truth of her family. Will she side with the light or embrace her destiny and become Empress Palpatine? Spoiler: She teams with Kylo to take out Papa Palpy. She, with the power of all the deceased Jedi behind her, reflects his lightning and kills him, once and for all. Does this invalidate the whole “chosen one” prophecy? I’m not entirely sure. In “Revenge of the Sith” Yoda remarks that it may have been misread. In “Rebels” Obi Wan remarks that Luke is actually the chosen one. As we’ve never actually seen this prophecy there is no way to know for sure. Anakin’s voice does speak that he brought balance to the force and now it is Rey’s turn, so your guess is as good as mine.

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Finn has an interesting journey in this one. He’s become a full General in the resistance and discovers a group of former Stormtroopers, like him, on one of the moons of Endor. Their stories are eerily similar to his. They were ordered to shoot civilians and refused, like Finn on Jakku. Throughout the film Finn keeps wanting to tell Rey something. We discover is that his secret is that he is beginning to feel the force. The reason all the stormtroopers were compelled to lay down their guns is because the force was calling to them. Although this is the end of the “Skywalker Saga”, I can’t escape the notion that there will be future episodes exploring these characters in a “New Saga” or trilogy. I think they will form the core of any new Jedi Order started by Rey.

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Oscar Isaac FINALLY has something to do as Poe Dameron! He’s along with the crew on their mission to find the Sith whoosie-whatsit and we learn about his past as a Spice Smuggler! We meet a member of his old crew and where he used to live on Kijimi. He gets some great interaction with C-3PO and becomes the Han of the group, the perfect role for him. His acting with Bliss is excellent as well. He was one of the MVPs this time out, especially in his work with…

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Anthony Daniels finishes his 42 journey as C-3PO. There was some initial concern that 3PO was going to die in this one, but instead it is a memory wipe. This plays to great comedic effect and he is eventually restored. This was the best use of 3PO since Empire. R2 was largely absent as he has been most of this trilogy. As much as I like BB8, I question this decision. I’ve come to miss R2 being at the center of things, though he did ride with Poe in the final battle, which is odd.

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While we are on a droid detour, BB8 gets a new pal D-O, a little wheel droid that has been mistreated by the Sith. He is cute and funny with his synthesized voice. That said, neither of them do very much this time around. 3PO is the main droid presence. Still not sure why BB8 wan’t in the X-Wing with Poe.

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Naomi Ackie is Jannah, former Stormtrooper and newest member of the gang. There is a weird scene at the end where Lando asks her where she is from. She replies that she doesn’t know. He says something to the effect of “lets find out”. I can’t tell if the film is implying that she is Lando’s daughter or whether he is going to help the former Imperials (stolen from their families as kids) find their real family. Once again, I get the sense that something is being set up with Finn and these force sensitive troopers. Either the core of a new trilogy or some TV spin off.

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Domnhall Gleeson is back as General Hux. After a weak showing in TLJ I was hoping he’d have more to do in this one. Sadly, he does not. The Rebels are working with a spy inside the First Order. It is revealed to be Hux, who wants Kylo Ren out of the picture so he can lead. His treachery is discovered almost immediately and he is killed by General Pryde.

STAR WARS:  THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Richard E. Grant as Pryde

Speaking of General Pryde, Richard E Grant, a fantastic actor, steps in as the newest First Order baddie. As far as Imperials go, he’s a great one. Ruthless and loyal to his Emperor. He brings a great presence to the part.

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Maz Kanata returns here, mostly to deliver dialogue about the force that Carrie Fisher was unable to deliver. It was good seeing her again though.

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Felicity herself, Kerri Russell plays Zorri Bliss, an old criminal associate of Poe’s from his Spice smuggling days on Kijimi. She remains masked for the whole film, only briefly revealing her eyes while talking to Poe. She was a great addition. I want more of this character. Her chemistry with Dameron was a highlight of the film.

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Billy Dee has been looking a little rough lately, but JJ worked some magic and got a decent performance out of him. He even looks awesome as well. Let’s be honest though, all he had to do was show up. Lando is the man.

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Greg Grunberg returns as pilot Snap Wexley, alongside an alien named Klaud. This is a character I have come to really like, mostly through the Aftermath novels where he and his family are central to the plot, including his stepfather- Wedge Antilles (who also appears in the film). Imagine my horror when Snap dies in the final space battle. Horrible. I think Klaud makes it though.

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Pictured above are Dominic Monaghan (Lost/LOTR) as Resistance Fighter Beaumont Kin and Billie Lourd (Carrie Fisher’s daughter) as Lt Connix. In front of them is some character that really doesn’t do anything in the film… Seriously. Where the F is Rose Tico? They dropped the romance angle with Finn. I can make my peace with that, but she’s not even involved in the main action all that much. She is at the base and says “I need to stay behind and study blah blah” and then is part of the battle at the end. Rose wasn’t the strongest part of The Last Jedi, but they did wrong by her in this movie.

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Joonas Suotamo returns as Chewbacca and I won’t lie, the end of act one had me a little worried. lol. Rey and Kylo are force pulling on a transport that is taking Chewie away as a prisoner. Rey accidentally uses force lightning and the ship explodes, killing Chewie. Yeah, I nearly shit my pants. Its all good though, they had him on another transport and he lives to fight another day. The highlight was seeing him finally get his medal from ANH. The saddest part was his emotional breakdown when Leia dies…

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Returning in this, the final Skywalker film, are Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford. Mark plays Luke Skywalker one last time as a force ghost who counsels Rey at one of her lowest moments and confirms that she is indeed a Palpatine. Han Solo appears not as a ghost, but a memory, an internal struggle within Kylo Ren that we are allowed to see play out. Kylo is remembering the moment when he kills his father, but this time he tosses his saber away, renouncing the dark and becoming Ben Solo. It was a fucking amazing moment.

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Using footage from the last two films, and some digital trickery, Carrie is allowed to portray Leia one last time. This is obviously not an ideal situation, but they did the best they could. Han and Maz helped flesh out her ending. Leia has become Rey’s Jedi Master and is completing her training, despite secretly knowing that Rey is a Palpatine. She has faith in Rey, and faith in her son. She uses the force, expending the last of her life energy to break through to Ben and turn him back to the light. She then dies. It was a powerful moment, follow immediately by Ben’s scene with Han.

and now…last but certainly not least.

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This is an actual shot from the film (not taken by me) of Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine. He has used the dark side, and its pathway to abilities that some consider unnatural, to resurrect himself. His eyes are white, mouth black, this is pretty close to Zombie-Palp. His fingers are all corpse-like. It is through him that a few of the craziest fan theories are proven true. Snoke was a creation of Palpatine, literally. We see clone vats full of Snokes! Palpatine has a plan to possess one of the bodies of either Kylo or Rey. He initially sends Kylo off to kill her, intending to then take control of him. When Kylo proves weak, he comes damn close to convincing Rey to strike him down. At the moment of his death he would transfer into her body, becoming Empress Palpatine. This confirms the Darth Bane theory.

There are always two Sith; A Master and an Apprentice. One to hold the power and another to crave it. In the third of the Darth Bane novels (excellent by the way) he is killed by his apprentice. Bane had a slight tremor in his hand. After he is dead, the Apprentice’s hand has the same tremor. The implication was that when the apprentice is finally strong enough to kill the Master, the master would transfer himself into body of the Apprentice. Some element of the host body might carry on, but the new Sith is essentially the same person. The cycle continues on and on to Darth Plagueis who is killed by Darth Sidious. Darth Maul was certainly a good choice for an apprentice for Sidious, but he died. Darth Tyrannus (Count Dooku) was too old to be a replacement. Anakin Skywalker, however, being a creation of the force itself was an outstanding choice. When Anakin was F’ed up by Kenobi the Emperor’s plan was in danger. He knew on some level that a new apprentice was needed. The full backstory hasn’t been explained, but it was around this time that Palpatine sired a son, probably as a backup plan since Vader was useless to  him as a Sith heir. When Luke came along he saw his chance to snag a Skywalker, but that blew up in his face. His backup plan with the son seems to have fallen apart when we realise that he turned away from the darkness. That was Rey’s father. Palpy had two options left to him: Kylo Ren, the last of the powerful Skywalker bloodline, or Rey his granddaughter.

Ultimately he realizes that the powerful bond between Rey and Ben is some super rare force connection and he sucks that bond, that power, out of them to rejuvenate his body. Palpatine is back and at full power. Screw the apprentices, he will find a new one. He tosses Ben aside and Rey stands up to face him. She has communed with the force spirits of all the deceased Jedi. They passed along their strength and knowledge to help her defeat Palpatine, which she does. This leads to her death and Ben’s sacrifice. Speaking of those Jedi spirits, as Rey is meditating and about to face Palpatine for the last time she hears the voices of the following:

Ewan Mcgregor and Alec Guiness as Obi Wan Kenobi. Liam Neeson as Qui Gon Jinn. Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, Frank Oz as Yoda…

Angelique Perrin as Adi Galia, Samuel L Jackson as Mace Windu, Jennifer Hale as Aayla Secura, Freddie Prinze Jr as Kanan Jarrus, Olivia D’abo as Luminara Unduli, and Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano. That last voice was particularly sad as we have not seen Ahsoka die on screen yet. This must be waiting in the future for us. The scene was amazing.

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This was not a bad movie, it was very good. It is not a bad entry in the series, I thought it was a solid Star Wars film. The critics and fanboys are definitely overblowing the film’s flaws. The fan service is on full display here. That bothers some, but not me. I enjoyed the banter, the action, and the resolution of it all. There was definitely some work being done to roll back TLJ, but I can live with most of that. This ticked all the boxes of what I wanted the last Skywalker film to be. So…how does it stack with the rest? 2 lists this time. Saga list and full film list.

Saga

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. The Last Jedi
  3. A New Hope
  4. The Force Awakens
  5. Return of the Jedi
  6. The Rise of Skywalker
  7. Revenge of the Sith
  8. The Phantom Menace
  9. Attack of the Clones

Yes, Rise of Skywalker has walked into the quagmire that is the third film in each trilogy. Empire is still my favorite. Last Jedi holds its place at #2 with New Hope close behind. The Force Awakens did enough to stand out at #4, and the bottom two are still safe. It is 5-7 that are the murkiest. They are essentially tied for me. Placement depends on my mood.

All Movies

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. The Last Jedi
  3. Star Wars
  4. The Force Awakens
  5. Return of the Jedi
  6. Solo
  7. Rogue One
  8. The Rise of Skywalker
  9. Revenge of the Sith
  10. The Phantom Menace
  11. Attack of the Clones
  12. Clone Wars (animated)

Non-theatrical

  1. Caravan of Courage
  2. Battle for Endor

 

I still place the two “Star Wars stories” at 6 and 7. Rise may…lol… rise over time and repeated viewings, but this is where we are on release day.

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