Hopefully you've read the headline for this review. This is our SPOILER filled review, which means, if you haven't seen it, you may want to go check it out before reading this. I also try to make sure any SPOILER reviews come out a week after the film has been released to make sure you have plenty of time to check out the movie. You can also check out my SPOILER FREE review if you'd like.
Okay, if you're ready, scroll on down!
What a piece of fun!
I want to start out by saying: This film is by no means anywhere near perfect. In some places, far from it. But, is it fun, mind-numbing escapism entertainment? You bet your space boots!! It's a fun conclusion to a saga running almost 40 years. And I personally believe it's not near over yet. The film does play heavy on nostalgia because, well, it has too! These stories are classic in terms of classic character archetypes, and follow classic themes of good versus evil, redemption, and family. It's what the other films have followed, and some say (for better or worse) that The Last Jedi was breaking that mold set forth by it's predecessors. But The Rise Of Skywalker brings us back (for better or worse) to what we are used to. We will get into it all a little later.
Like I said, as just going for a thrill in a theater, this movie hits the right nots, but there are still things that did not sit well with me. Some are the "fan-boy eye roll" moments, others are "filmmaker eye roll" moments. Most of my gripes with this film can be simply answered by saying, "This is Star Wars, do you really need more of an explanation?"
But let's get into the gripes first.
The Kiss That Made a Theater Groan
You know what I'm talking about, and I'm not talking about the first on-screen same-sex kiss in a Star Wars movie. I'm talking about that "Reylo" kiss. My theater did not gasp, it groaned. I saw the film a second time a few days later, and the reaction was the same. One person behind me audibly said during Rey and Ben's "buildup" moments before, "If they kiss, that's it, I'm out of here." And when they did, I was gone. I was out of the moment. I was just left thinking, "Why?" Did they really have to go there? I preferred the kiss between Rose and Finn from The Last Jedi, which has about the same amount of weight in this movie. Seriously, they kind of just ignore that ever happens. Rose is just left to be on her own. As someone said, "They Jar-Jared her." But the Rey and Ben Solo kiss should not have happened. Period.
The Knights of Who?
I think the Knights of Ren got the real shaft here. Almost like Captain Phasma did in the other movies. There was such a build up of these mysterious knights, and let's put it this way; if they were magically edited out of the movie, would it really make a difference? Nope. They showed up, were "hunting" our heroes and never really had a run-in with them, and then they were all killed in the end by Ben Solo. Which I don't mind, and I don't mind the force-teleportation of things to save him, it's a fun new way to use the force. (By the way, teleportation IS cannon in Star Wars. Just remember Luke telling C3-PO he'd like to be "teleported off this rock" in A New Hope.) But they are just killed off and not explained at all. I'm not even sure they knew how to use the force. Worthless.
There are lots of other characters that seemed to be throwaways. Dominic Monaghan, most known as a Merry in Lord of the Rings, played someone who again, if was magically edited out of the movie, would make zero change to the story. Some may say characters like this make the film seem bloated. But this also leads to my next gripe...
To Cut or Not To Cut...?
This movie is not well edited. Now, I understand that the overlords at Disney are probably ordering the filmmakers to make sure have the film fit within certain guidelines, but it's too confining. The result makes it feel rushed. We want to see longer reaction shots, especially on characters we know we'll never see again on the silver screen. I want to know how the hell Rey found a "skimmer" to go out to the Death Star wreckage. I want to know more about Rey's training and abilities she's learning from Leia. I also wanted to experience the opening crawl, not read about a mysterious broadcast. That would be scary as hell and would have been amazing to see our hero's reactions. I want to know what the hell happened to "broom boy" from The Last Jedi. I also want to know what the hell is Lando doing with Jannah? Oh yeah, and how the hell did Lando convince so many to join the fight in so little time? I mean I know he's a smooth talk and all... but come on! I also want to know what made General Hux really turn somewhat decent. It was all so sudden. But after seeing the Rise of Resistance attraction, I began to have my suspicion then about Hux. Also, anyone curious about Kylo's helmet at Galaxy's Edge and the timeline of the story? Anyways, the point is I could begin to smell the Disney behind all these choices because of...
Merchandising! Merchandising! Where the Real Money From the Movie is Made.
Synergy is real at Disney. And in an attempt to try to make a duplicate Marvel Cinematic Universe, they do it with multiple platform universe. This is where video games, comics, novels, short stories, cartoons, television shows and theme park attractions are all known as "cannon" and a part of the larger Star Wars Universe. I'll admit, I'm a huge fan of Galaxy's Edge at the Disney Parks, and the amount of backstory and detail you can get into is massive. But it's sad to see the movie suffer because disney is pushing their other platforms.
Already it's discussed how you can help put some pieces of the missing puzzles from the movie in the Visual Dictionary of the movie. Things like this will continue to come out for a while. You will have to read a novel, walk through Batuu or subscribe to Disney+ to find answers to some of these things. It's a bit nickel-and-diming if you ask me, and unfair to general movie goers. Remember when bonus material was created from the stories in the movies? Because now it seems the stories in the movies are dictated by the preplanned merchandise. Kind of sad.
But Hey, It's Star Wars
This is science fantasy after all. You have to suspend your disbelief a little bit more when watching this rather than watching, say, Star Trek.
We don't know what the force can do. We don't know what Rey has learned. We just accept it and have fun, as it is intended to be. If you're willing to "let go" and "accept" things as they're presented to you, this is going to be fun. It's fun because you get to see people die and come back, and then die again if you're Ben Solo. We get to see old friends, and closure on things like Chewie finally getting a medal from the Battle of Yavin (yet there's debate as to whom the medal really belongs to).
There are new characters that work. Zorii Bliss was fun, but needed more screen time. Babu Frik wins the best new-commer award, and General Pryde should have been Hux all along. In this film it was great to see our heroes all together for most of the adventure. It was also great to see Lando and the Emperor. I don't mind the Emperor either. I like that he was mangeled and sick. I'm sure we will figure out how he survies a high fall (like Luke and Darth Maul) and then has time to make a baby, but again, just go with it! It's fun and it's a joy! It also really doesn't deserved the 55% critic rating on RottenTomatoes.
You will have a good time. 4/5 Stars.