In Defense of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I didn’t expect to, but I did. Surprisingly, The Rise of Skywalker is EVERYTHING I’ve ever wanted in a Star Wars movie.

Of course, I’m an outlier. Critics are tearing this film to pieces, and fans are in collective uproar. It sucks to hear that folks are unhappy with this film. If you’re one of those people who hated the Force Awakens because it was a retread for A New Hope, you’re going to hate that The Rise of Skywalker is a retread of Return of the Jedi.

In my opinion, The Rise of Skywalker is the best Star Wars film I’ve ever seen.

The movie is filled with some truly shocking moments, shocking in a good way. I enjoy discovering new elements of the force through this movie. It’s as if the filmmakers took aspects of Star Wars video games and applied them to this film.
I also love that The Rise of Skywalker fixes many things I don’t like about Star Wars, making it more palatable for a casual audience.
They even handled the passing of Carrie Fisher in a classy manner. Opting to use archived footage instead of digitally recreating her face and voice.

I’m sure I’m going to get flak for this, but, I love seeing Daisy Ridley on screen as Rey. The scavenger who turned into the Jedi nobody saw coming.

Believe it or not, there’re folks who complain about Rey’s characterization. Apparently, she’s insufferably flawless with no significant weaknesses to exploit. Sharing the same criticisms as Marvel’s Captain Marvel.

Essentially, some fans believe Rey is too perfect, therefore ruining the movie.

This film focuses on Rey coming to grips with her identity, finding balance in herself and her journey as a Jedi. She’s the hero of this story. Nearing the end of her training and figuring out the steps it takes to save the galaxy.

Sure, it’s possible Disney and Lucasfilm have been pushing a feminist agenda by making our leading hero a woman. So what? Keep in mind, before Rey, the only prominent women in Star Wars were Senator Padme and Princess Leia; the former dying in childbirth.

These films will forever have a special place in my heart.

If you read my blog on The Mandalorian series, you’ll know that I’ve seen all the Star Wars movies on the big screen. They’re classics, but the new sequel trilogy are amazing in their own rite. Not only are they technically amazing, I enjoy seeing a more diverse case of heroes on screen.

I saw the film at the Toho Hibiya Cinema during a midnight showing in Tokyo. Japanese fans showed up in their favorite Star Wars apparel, some even dressed up for the occasion.

Watching movies in Japan is often a very awkward experience.

If you didn’t know, there are unspoken rules that dictate the movie going experience in this country. Essentially, there’s no cheering, clapping or loud laughter allowed in the theater. Getting up to go to the bathroom is often frowned upon, as no one leaves the theater until AFTER the credits end. Meaning my responses to moments in the film had to be subdued. And when I had explosive reactions, I was the only one in the theater speaking out.

Like I said before, Rey is awesome, but I also really love where they went with Finn’s character. For the past two films they really struggled to define who this person is supposed to be. Finally, Finn is presented as a leader in the resistance. Instead of running from conflict, as he tried previous films, he helps to lead the charge. Finn might not be the Jedi I wished him to be years ago, but he’s damn cool regardless.

And then there’s Kylo Ren. The irredeemable villain who murdered is own father.

Aside from Rey, Kylo Ren is the most interesting character throughout this whole series. Adam Driver is the best actor in this film, doing a fantastic job at playing a damaged soul. His physicality on screen is electric. Fun fact – Adam Driver used to be a United States Marine.

After this movie, I’m done with Star Wars media. The spin-off movies, television shows, comic books and video games. Who cares? Now that I know how it all ends. All the unanswered questions in these films will surely be answered in auxiliary Star Wars media. That’s the strategy of Lucasfilms. Want to know how the Emperor is still alive? Who are the Knights of Ren? Those stories are embedded somewhere in supplemental material.

What I love about Star Wars, is that this stuff exists for those who choose to pursue their answers; but, the core story is still the core story. I can enjoy the movies without knowing the minutia of Star Wars lore.

And in the end, The Rise of Skywalker was a satisfying conclusion.

Fans may find themselves frustrated with these new Star Wars films, but if they can make excuses for the prequel trilogy, they’ll eventually come around to this sequel trilogy. A decade from now, folks will be praising these films. We live in this weird digital age of fan entitlement, where folks will “hate-watch” this movie for not playing out in the exact way imagined in their heads. They’ll call for the firing of producers and directors and even petition for an entire reshoot of the movie. Are you not entertained?

For me, this is the end of Star Wars. I hope Disney and Lucasfilm refrain from expanding the story beyond this conclusion. I went into this movie with some low expectations. The internet primed me to hate this film and I turned out to appreciate it and what it did to the characters that I love.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section down below.
Let’s start a discussion.

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