Unanswered Questions (Still Exists) After The Rise of Skywalker

20 Dec

Image result for rise of skywalker posterBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Mild Spoiler Alert!

This weekend, all eyes are on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. This chapter is a mystery because nobody but writers J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio knows what this tagline really means. Delivering freedom across the galaxy against the tyrannical First Order now led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) requires more than the Resistance making the last stand. Anyone looking at the Wikipedia for a summary will get the movie spoiled big time. Don’t look.

Speculation included the rise of a new order of Force users or introducing a new individual who is either a lost Skywalker or a random individual just as powerful with this mystical art. The last film by Rian Johnson is special in that regard. It put the power to the everyman. Ray was a Nobody. Her heritage did not matter. The final frame showed a very young boy having the power too, and hope will always lie with a new generation.

Speculation on who Ray is the daughter of is rampant because part of the fandom wants closure. I had other expectations and am still left scratching my head because of a few oddball moments.

Overall, the film is a satisfying watch to conclude just one small part of a lengthy war. It’s not an excellent story by any means. The need to stay safe with what works in this universe was apparent, and Abrams simply delivered a pulp action popcorn movie for the masses. It was not meant to be philosophical or meditative otherwise I’d be going to an Ingmar Bergman movie instead.

The ninth film lacks the essence from Empire Strikes Back which catapulted the franchise to the stratosphere. The new team–Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron–are terrific even though they are not always together during the movie. C-3PO has an important role and without him, the gang would not be able to advance forward to defeat the big Evil.

Isaac is better at playing good guys than bad. Whoever thought of making him the big bad in X-Men Apocalypse really needs to be shot. I saw this film again and realized that role was terribly miscast. Any WWE wrestler in the seminal role can do better because they have the bulk and presence to become that looming threat. To stay contemporary, Rey is the symbol of the new resistance. Boyega did not have much to do and no one knew how to further his character development. The Force Awakens hinted at him being a Force user and he does get to use his sixth sense but to train him? That might be offered as a side story.

Image result for rise of skywalker

The set pieces involving a desert scene and a wayward town are CGI-eriffic. It’s hard to get hugely excited for moments when it’s all dependent on computers these days. I miss the physicality of the original trilogy special effects and the only moment in Episode 9 that is truly out of Tarzan is the stunt with Rey leaping over the Kylo’s Tie Fighter! She’s a minted Jedi, with all those force enhanced abilities, and digital cinematography makes her strong. The best fight scene is a lightsaber duel during a raging tempest! It had more symbolic meaning than the Anakin-Kenobi fight in Revenge of the Sith.

I hoped for a finale similar to Star Wars: Rebels. This series sweetly defined what a Force user is and went all out tribal and examined the hero’s journey proper. In The Clone Wars, they were defined as the Father, Son and Daughter. The siblings were even worshipped and I wondered where all the religion went? Han Solo made a fuss about it when this saga started and over time, the mystic edge is not always explored.

Without this element, the finale to a saga lacked the gravitas I really wanted. The Rise of Skywalker fell flat. The writing team forgot everything Yoda foresaw in the animated series and taught to Luke in Empire Strikes Back. In part two, I will address a few what the heck moments which completely made no sense.

3 Stars out of 5

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