I Finally Saw The Rise of Skywalker and I Have So Many Thoughts

Thursday, January 9, 2020
So I finally managed to go see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and the whole time I was watching it, I was thinking of what I would've done differently. So here it is, and it is long.

I'm gonna start out with the things I liked: the cast. They had good banter, and did what they were supposed to do with the material they were given. And I did like seeing how Rey and Poe interacted with each other, because that was really the first time we saw them together onscreen for more than an introduction. That's all I can say.

Now onto everything else.

This movie was trying so hard to be epic. So many quests for some many McGuffins, it just felt like they were buying time until they got to the third act battle. If they were building to war, show the Resistance building to war instead of them only deciding to attack at the end. Instead of having Leia die late into the film, have her die early and then that would mean that the original trio are all dead, and that would tie into Luke's speech in the The Last Jedi, "destroy the past". The past is destroyed; one was murdered, two were sacrifices. And now we have a movie with pretty much all the new characters trying to move forward and take charge of this war, tired of these little battles and having to retreat to prepare for the next one, make a stand. Do it in honor of the heroes they've lost. Have the trio and other prominent members of this generation in the Resistance making plans and recruiting people to their cause, and maybe go on one quest for a McGuffin. All the people they meet on the quests, like Keri Russell's Zori and the former stormtrooper Jannah played by Naomi Ackie, can be people who hear their call. Zori could be an actual character. Finn and Jannah can bond more deeply about being awoken by the Force and escaping the First Order, maybe a deep respect, maybe a romance, because I think Finn and Rey are better as Brothers in Arms and not as a couple. More Poe and Finn hanging out being besties/boyfriends. Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico be involved in the planning of the big battle and have actual screen time. By doing that, we can actually feel the momentum of a rising conflict instead of all the stopping and starting.

This movie just walked back every decision that was made in The Last Jedi. Rey learning that her parents weren't special and Kylo Ren getting rid of Snoke's strings. And then Rise of Skywalker listened to angry fanboys and decided that those weren't the answers, they were just misdirects. I don't know why they brought back Palpatine. There was no need for him to be the one pulling the strings, the strings were already severed. And there was no need for him to be Rey's grandfather. When did he have a kid and why was that never brought up until the last movie in the saga? I liked that Rey wasn't connected to any previous characters and was just a nobody. In fact, you probably could have skipped pretty much all of The Last Jedi and would've been fine.

One of the big problems with this movie is the tragic loss of Carrie Fisher. I don't envy them for having to make decisions about what to do with Leia in what would have been her movie. But what they did made Leia look stiff. They repurposed the blandest, unused footage they had of her from the previous movies and wrote dialogue around it, which doesn't work. And there was trouble with integrating her footage in the movie, and that's the screenwriter Chris Terrio's reason for Rose having so little screen time. And since they had so little footage of her, her death later in the film didn't have enough weight to it. Honestly, they should've announced in the opening scrawl that she had died in a battle or a show of sacrifice, much like Laura Dern's Holdo in the last film. Then the opening scene would have been her funeral, and properly mourning her loss. Then to honor Carrie Fisher, promote Billie Lourd's Lt. Connix to General in her place.

Then the loss of his mother, and his connection to Rey, could lead Kylo Ren to question his actions. I also read a great piece after The Last Jedi came out about the way they could honor Leia's place in the story by bringing back Padme Amidala. And it would also make sense because of Kylo Ren's idolization of his grandfather, that maybe his grandmother can bring him back to the light and reclaim the name of Ben Solo and bring about the rise of Skywalker. (Hey, that would be a good title for a movie with that storyline.)

Then, as Kylo Ren starts having doubts about himself and the First Order, the Order can start to get away from his control and to the control of General Hux and the Knights of Ren, who were pointless in this movie. And that would make sense, because Hux had always butted heads with Kylo, and he easily could've continued on that path instead of being unceremoniously killed off by a higher ranking First Order official we just met in this movie and know nothing about. I love Richard E. Grant, and I'm glad he got a paycheck and got to be in a Star Wars movie, but his character really wasn't needed.

The movie could've ended with Ben being handed his mother's lightsaber, and him using it to join the Resistance and defeat the First Order. Then I don't know if he and Rey would become romantic or just carry on their very strong connection while he found a way to repent and repay for his crimes against the galaxy. And then the big celebration could have felt earned.

This movie should have been so much better than it was. It just got in its own way and tried to cater to the loudest, and most toxic, part of the fanbase instead of continuing the story it told well in the last film. Because, as you can tell, there were places to go with what was given that would have been satisfying. What they chose to do instead was not it, and derailed what would have been the best Star Wars trilogy.

And let Poe and Finn kiss! Or at least have a very intimate embrace. No quick kiss between two extras that was easily cut out for the international release, that's just pandering.

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