[Spoilers] Thoughts on The Rise of Skywalker

I just saw The Rise of Skywalker. And I’m going to talk my first impressions (spoilers).

This overview has spoilers. If you want to see my thoughts without spoilers, read this instead.

Last chance.

Don’t worry, C3PO’s ok

Net net, I really enjoyed this movie. There have been a lot of negative reviews of it and I think I also understand them. My thoughts are all over the place, which I think reflects the movie after seeing it a single time. But there’s a lot of great! But here we go…

Let’s get some spoilers out of the way because it makes it easier to talk about them:

  • Rey is a Palpatine
  • Leia dies
  • Kylo Ren is redeemed
  • Jedi can heal others like Baby Yoda (a spoiler from The Mandalorian – ha!)

Did the Last Jedi break Star Wars?

I really liked The Last Jedi. Others say they didn’t because of how Luke Skywalker was portrayed and some other things. But at the same time, Rion Johnson handled each of the various relationships and plot points very well (again… maybe you don’t like the choices but the film handles them well).

The issue is, it’s not clear to where you go from there? If your goal is to redeem Kylo Ren, then where do you go after TLJ? If you want Rey to finish her training, confronting Kylo Ren again isn’t going to do that.

There greatness in it

Faster, more intense

They crammed a lot of things into this movie. It was like they took the last two Harry Potter films and crammed them into a single, 2.5 hr movie. Since it might be the last time we see some of our heroes, it’s the last time we get to see some things we always wanted to see. We see Luke training Leia. We see Luke raise his X-Wing out of the water. We see Chewie get his medal. So they gave it to us. We see some new hyperdrive tricks.

And the various plot points may not be very popular. But they are what they chose. The choice to bring back Palpatine -for real not as some kind of echo a la Darth Bane in Season 6 of The Clone Wars – that kind of puts you down an expected path. He’s going to be the architect of everything – meaning Snoke was one of his creations. He’s going to have some secret plan and a secret fleet of ships. And he’s going to be doing this out of a secret Sith planet that’s nearly impossible to find. And just because it’s Star Wars, each of his secret fleet of ships can destroy a planet – because of course. That’s the highest level of threat in the Star Wars universe – a mobile planet killer. And how do you emotionally connect our heroine Rey to Palpatine? Make her his grand daughter, but don’t tell us clearly how all that worked. So… that’s it.

But in doing this, you start to cloud the motivations of Kylo Ren and the fears of Rey. From the first two films, we know the two of them are connected through the Force somehow. This movie gives an explanation. You can like it or not. I don’t particularly like it, but that’s where we are. I also hate the Reylo perspective which bore its head in this movie also. There’s no reason to have them be romantically connected and I hate the message it sends to girls that salvation for an abusive person can be found through their love (this is the cornerstone of abusive relationships and I think having it in Star Wars is gross). Nor do I think Rey’s hero’s journey need go through a romantic connection of any kind.

Criticisms are understandable, but c’mon

Some people may not like these choices, which is understandable. If you hate those choices, then you’re going to be disappointed with the various dimensions of the movie. If you like them then this might be the best movie for you.

I didn’t like some of the choices. I’m ok with how the Rey/Kylo thing played out (except them kissing at the end). Other choices were a bit lazy. Making Rey a Palpatine felt like they sided with an internet argument – only in that it’s a rather obvious answer. I think Rion Johnson’s point in The Last Jedi that the Force can call anyone and their parentage didn’t really matter was the more profound perspective. It creates more questions than answers which is, I think, a hallmark of Star Wars stories.

Sometimes it takes seeing a film a few times to really understand it. I certainly think I need a few more go-rounds to build-out my opinion.