'Star Wars 9: The Rise of Skywalker' (Second Look) by a Star Wars fan25.04.2020, 21:39
Note: Not many spoilers.
I say ‘second look’ but in fact, I’ve only just seen the film, managing to avoid all the gossip and reviews that emerged on release since, quite frankly I didn’t care for them, nor trust them. I’d say I’m a true fan (not a crazed one), having grown up with Star Wars, so I can make my own informed judgement, and recognise where the heart of a good film lies, and what it’s bringing to the table. I’ve accepted that the most flawed areas of the saga lie in the wooden, varnished prequels, which could have been restructured and also bolstered considerably, but have come to accept some good things about those too. And I have given myself time to reflect on the still-new, final Skywalker instalment, and the saga as a whole.
Plus, I’ve now had a look at some of those reviews and comments which emerged, and they’re all mostly just as expected. Mainly it’s Youtube reviewers who make a living getting hits by adopting an amusing, critical line, filling up their streaming time with enough talk and not enough thought, and who generally end up missing out on the greatness of a film. They highlight phantom clickbait traits, or examine plot holes in sensational detail and end up digging and falling down those holes themselves. And then there’s the supposed 'Last Jedi' ‘backlash’ they can supposedly tap into. Or some at least, who tried.
But the truth (to me) is that this film managed to deactivate nearly all of this commentary and swollen expectations, and on second viewing these guys will start to eat their words. Many film critics too, may also re-think their original views, and their frankly strange ratings. Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score, as one example, is already proving it.
This is because The Rise of Skywalker really is a quality film. Simple as that. It infuses all the Star Wars traits you'd expect, with a deep emotional center, superb parallels between characters, tributes and references to the previous films (yes, including Last Jedi) and ramping up the energy to greater levels. The action and pace is souped up and with essential, interwoven humour, emotion and battle scenes. The cracking pace is set from the outset, and escalates continually from there. There is a sense, again, that these characters are in danger. There are surprises too, and nothing is silly or out of place.
Energy levels had to be turned up high, since the original Star Wars films - ending at 'Return of the Jedi' (episode 6) - were already culmination films. So this meant that any continued episodes would need to build up towards another culmination, and for Rise of Skywalker - an even more potent one. And yes they did manage to find a premise that really could underscore the importance of all the previous films and echo them.
In fact, there’s little doubt remaining that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker achieved lofty ambitions . They brought the saga to an ultimate climax, and with a strong theme driving it and binding it together.
Star Wars and the Force was truly resurrected beyond the originals, and in the respectful hands of JJ Abrams and Ryan Johnson, we got to see more from this universe, and judging by the box office, this return was not only effective but welcomed. The saga was completed, and with force.
But every film is only as strong as its characters and originality, and fans do need to accept there was never going to be anything stunningly original where the saga was continued. Still, many new ideas and elements were explored. We had a new symbolic red light sabre, we had quantum-style force ‘dips’, lightspeed jumping, mind-melding, healing, resurrections and jedi self-projection. We had Luke’s story of his failed attempt to make an academy, and a new family crisis. The Force and its all-prevailing sense of love and destiny were back.
In terms of film-making, it’s now down to the offshoot movies like Solo and Rogue One or series like The Mandalorian to bring us new themes, characters and tensions.
There are some things that were never really replicated by Abrams and Johnson, that we still owe George Lucas and his teams a huge amount. I think mostly this involves that wide-eyed sense of adventure towards everything unfolding in this galaxy far, far away. With so much going on in these recent films, and with more to refer back to, we lose that sense of awe and atmosphere, of just spending time with the characters, chemistry and their surroundings. For example, we weren’t sure initially if Han Solo was going to be a likeable character. Side characters would be introduced and then make us wonder how they would reappear later on. On the other hand, what we did get in these later films are far more powerful sabre battles and inner struggles, and both a female and male lead who are both strong and vulnerable; the perfect mix for magical heroes.
Star Wars as we now know it, could probably continue for many episodes in a similar vein to these latest movies, but at the risk of damaging its underlying power. Star Wars as a ‘science-fiction experience’ clearly waits for some new writer to create a radical shift and find new relevance, or risk spoiling the legacy. It could be time for a completely different feel, with some new family and problems to confront or overcome. But, of course, it’s difficult to be original, since so many science-fiction themes have been explored in so many other movies since.
The Skywalker Jedi have made a deep impression, and now need an indefinite, well-deserved holiday.
It’s something to imagine some new saga could be born, and return to another galaxy far, far away, or perhaps even this overpopulated, isolated Earth, and in a completely different form? It just needs new, daring but respectful wise-Jedi writers to serve the mysterious ways of the Force.
But I, for one, stand impressed by episodes 7-9, and would predict that their legacy is a good one, and that both fans and newcomers will come to respect what was achieved.
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