Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Fuck it.

-J.J. Abrams

Fuck it. Quite possibly the most dangerous and most unpredictable combination of two words in the English language. It's said when you browse for something to watch and come across a Japanese woman covered in blood. It's said under the breath right before you ask out that cute friend-of-a-friend, and then she says it right before she sits you down before the "We need to talk" bomb drops. J.J. Abrams said it while crafting the make-or-break moment of one of the world's most controversial and most beloved film IPs going through its darkest hour. And I said it right before ordering two tickets on Fandango to go see it with a friend...and also right before we decided to make a stop to pick up some edibles for what we had both assumed would be a disaster.

And you know what? It's as good as I thought it would be and it's as terrible as I thought it would be.

Where to begin unpacking this film and my feelings around it? I guess we can start with this film is able to do a lot with the best aspects of "The Force Awakens" and "The Last Jedi" while minimizing their weaker aspects. "The Force Awakens" was a fun adventure with weak character writing and an overreliance on recreating "A New Hope." "The Last Jedi" improved upon the character writing while having problems with, but not limited to, tone, dramatic stakes, subverting expectations for the sake of subverting them without new or clever directions to take them, character arcs, old themes "Star Wars" is known for, trying out new themes, keeping a limit on those themes, doing anything interesting with those themes, taking the franchise in new directions, side character writing, having relevant things for major characters to do, making the villains interesting, the treatment of Leia's character & her dramatic moments, the comedic treatment of Luke's new character traits and the unsatisfactory way of redeeming him, humor, and keeping out the director's titty-milking fetish. So of course a fun adventure with pretty good character writing, dramatic stakes, and no titty milking is going to please me. The script is riddled with band-aids trying to plug in the holes the last two films had stabbed into the franchise, but luckily for me, Abrams went into his first-aid kit and picked out the anime-themed band-aids.

Yes, "Star Wars" has finally found its niche as an anime after being uprooted from the sci-fi fantasy genre to become Lucas's historical Shakesperian dramas to boost toy sales and send a middle finger to Peter Jackson's and Ridley Scott's special effects teams and then was unable to be replanted back into the sci-fi fantasy genre with Marvel weeds overtaking the garden. Reyorno Riovanna now must confront her evil ancestor Sheevo Palpatindo with the help of her Rebellione gang: Finno Mista, Poerancia Damehriga, Leiano Organaratti, Panacotta C-3P-go, Leone Chewbacchio, and not-Boba Fett and not-Zazie Beetz. And also Rose Tico who has gone from annoying character to no character. And Lando! He's still cool, that Lando. The story just flows really well as the protagonists we've gotten to know and love go on an actual new adventure that doesn't fracture into insignificant parts to save the galaxy from the ultimate threat we know and understand, even though there's some big hiccups in the way (mostly revolving around Ben Solo's face turn, which just felt clumsy and rushed). I'm not going to pretend like bringing back Mr. Sheev Palpatine isn't the "Break Glass In Case of Emergency" solution to save the franchise, but I'm also not going to pretend I didn't get giddy seeing Ian McDiarmid hamming it up once again as a zombie and being more of a threat than the not-Empire was. Speaking of cool shit, isn't seeing Leia being a Jedi Master and having a lightsaber fucking awesome? We may not have gotten the satisfactory end to Luke Skywalker, but General Leia's direction here may be my favorite addition of the sequels by far. The spine-chilling dynamic between Rey and Ren returns with every one of their scenes hitting hard, the Force feels more powerful and exciting than ever, the stupidity and cringey quips are minimized (even if the new alien designs are still quite terrible). Unlike "The Last Jedi," "The Rise of Skywalker" barrels wholeheartedly towards a satisfying schlockfest, it is the stupidest and craziest "Star Wars" gets and I love it.

Is this the best "Star Wars" movie? No, not by a long shot. Is it satisfying? Barely. Is it well-written? Absolutely not. But is it fun? Yes, I would say so. In conclusion, Disney needs to hand over the rights to Shueisha and have Araki and Horikoshi handle it. Because fuck it, that's why.

I love Star Wars. I fucking hate Star Wars.

-Patrick Boivin, Castle SuperBeast Episode 045

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