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Movies & Series 19 December 2019, 15:04

author: Filip „fsm” Grabski

Born in '84, likes heavy music, reads a lot, and watches even more – movies & series are his bread and butter. And he plays. He plays with youthful enthusiasm and prefers a short, but intense single-player story to almost any open world.

The New Star Wars Review – Skywalker Rising? Not Really.

Star Wars is probably the most amazing franchise of the last four decades, invariably causing great emotions. That's why Rise of Skywalker had an extremely difficult task. How does the movie fare with such baggage?

PROS:
  1. very ambitious, filled with various themes, pretty skillful conclusion of the three trilogies;
  2. several phenomenally directed, spectacular sequences,
  3. many feels,
  4. wisely used fan-service,
  5. new characters (Babu Frik!),
  6. Kylo Ren, as great as ever.
CONS:
  1. it's easy to feel overwhelmed with all that's going on, which doesn't allow all the elements to resound properly,
  2. the story rushes at breakneck speed,
  3. same, old tropes,
  4. the biggest turn of events is devoid of emotional impact.

You've got to know when to stop. Leave the stage as the invincible master. Some know when that moment comes, some don't. Apparently, J.J. Abrams does – he started his Star Wars trilogy with The Force Awakens in 2015, and is now ending not only that, but the entire, nine-episode Skywalker saga. Fans' expectations of The Rise of Skywalker were huge, but there were also plenty of reasons to be concerned – episode seven was a bit too intense when it came to referencing A New Hope, and The Last Jedi was a bit too liberal with the saga. Some people liked that, but there was also plenty of anger and disappointment.

After more than 42 years after the release of the first Star Wars (and for me, 22 years from the first visit to the cinema, after the release of a special edition of the original trilogy), it's hard to keep emotions in check. Reviewing The Rise of Skywalker is a difficult task for such an ardent fan of the saga as myself. Because of this, the review will be two-sided, just like the Force.

The Light side

Rise of Skywalker is highly imperfect film, and the creators try to make up for the shortcomings by intensifying action and quite aptly playing on emotions. Most of the time, this works perfectly – you're more likely to smile, feel touched, or even marveled during the screening than you are to frown at some of the more questionable narration ideas.

Of course, I will not discuss the story in detail, but you have to remember that episode IX doesn't pick up immediately where VIII left; a year has passed since we bode farewell to the decimated resistance. And, as it often happens in Star Wars – the good team has expanded, and the bad team, under the auspice of Supreme leader Kylo Ren, has long had a new goal that will allow it to finally conquer the faraway galaxy. After the hiatus, things take a sharp turn. An unimaginable threat is looming on the horizon, and the next few hours will decide the fate of everything. Sink or swim. Triumph or perish. The stakes are high, the intensity is there; in fact, this might be the most intense movie in the entire saga. The movie is saturated with action, special effects, and characters.

ERASE THIS, TOO

As I've now seen the entire new trilogy, I can reiterate the point I recently made in another article: you can forget about this whole thing. As a copy of the original, the new trilogy borrows ideas, but doesn't offer any improvements – quite the contrary. While the first half of the new movie let's you hope that the creators will surprise the audience with something, things soon take their default values, and it turns out it's all the same again, just more intense. I'm glad it's over.

Martin "I don't like the Expanded Universe" Strzyzewski

Abrams opens his creation with a punch, without much ado. The story decision shown at this point may seem controversial, but nothing else would be timely enough. I shall return to that later. Skywalker does his best to reconcile everyone. Fans of the original trilogy, people excited about the new trilogy, and even those who now maintain that " the prequels weren't that bad after all." It's total Star Wars. In the context of the whole story, it surprisingly manages to contain Rihanna Johnson's controversial ideas from The Last Jedi, and makes a controlled return to the familiar waters, only with new embellishments. After all, the songs we love the most are those we know well, is that right?

There's more cinematic punches like the one in the beginning. This movie depicts some of the most interesting and spectacular uses of the Force, which are not qualitatively different from what we've known, but bring a lot of freshness. The movie is pretty emotional – generating both joy and sadness. There's laughter – Skywalker is funny, but in a rampant way. Humor appears in the dialogues, there's a few situational jokes (especially related to the Babu Frik) and it seems more natural than in the last two episodes. Looking for feels? You'll find plenty. Life forced the filmmakers bid farewell to Princess Leia on the screen, and it was done in probably the best of possible ways.

What has so far been the biggest strength of the new trilogy, i.e. the character of Kylo Ren and his connection to Rey, has been brought to a neat conclusion here, and if you've been happy with what Adam Driver and (to a lesser extent) Daisy Ridley have done with the heroes, then you'll certainly be satisfied. In addition, Poe and Finn act reasonably, and the new droid D-O is again super charming, and – apart from the aforementioned Babu Frick – the most notable new character is the invariably evil general Pryde. Ah, if the First Order had more such commanders, the conflict would play out very differently.

Rise of Skywalker takes to heart the mantra of George Lucas. It's cosmic poetry – everything has to rhyme. The film rhymes with The Force Awakens, with the previous episodes of the trilogy, and disguises the inevitable hitches with trickery. Yes, these techniques can be cheap, but the emotions during the screening took over, and I'm glad, although I know that it could have been done a bit better.

Erasing Star Wars Expanded Universe is Disney's Only Good Decision
Erasing Star Wars Expanded Universe is Disney's Only Good Decision

Disney changed Star Wars beyond recognition, and I think they flunked it. There's one decision, though, for which the corporation deserves standing applause. They erased the Expanded Universe with all its nonsense, kitsch and rubbish ideas.

What are Star Wars About? Not What You Though!
What are Star Wars About? Not What You Though!

For a long time, many thought Star Wars was the story of Luke Skywalker. Then, we saw that it was a tragedy of Anakin's involvement in the galactic conflict. Today, however, I am convinced that the most important character of this story is Palpatine.

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