Well, today is the day that the galaxy has some closure. The end of the Skywalker Saga is here, and movie-goers are beyond excited (maybe even scared?) about going to see this last installment. I got a chance to see the movie, after reading a lot of critics responses to it as well. And while I'll keep this review a SPOILER FREE review and will be perfectly safe for you to read, I also want to start out by saying, "Don't read reviews for this movie!!"
Seriously, I can (and will) get into things that I loved, things that irked me, but even speaking in generalities about those things may prejudice you (towards the light or dark side). So in all honesty and respect to you as the reader, I'll tell you right now to stop reading this and go see the movie. Don't talk to your friends about it, just go. I can't even tell you how many random texts from friends I got that were, "Did you see it?" "Well...?" "Okay, what did you think?" It was like a code, a nudge-nudge, wink-wink sort of lingo while putting our toe in the water of being able to freely talk about the movie. Once you respond with "I saw the movie" then be prepared for endless conversation about the most famous film franchise in cinema history. It may be a better experience for you to just have that moment with your friends after seeing the movie.
That being said, if you're still reading, I'm going to go into my initial reactions and feels about this movie and won't talk about anything you don't already see in the trailer. So I'll say this to sum it up: "Whoa."
There's a LOT in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. And that is a blessing (and in some small ways, the curse) of this movie. There was so much we needed closure on and to have answers to, even to things we never knew we needed closure on, including things that stem back to the original 1977 film. This film was one of the best blockbuster, tent-pole, escapism film to come out since Avengers: Endgame (only just a few months ago). That's of course some cynicism, but honestly, Disney has made 2019 THE year to make some massive movie franchise finales.
The film succeeds on building the universe of Star Wars. We go to new planets, meet new characters and discover numerous new force powers. New weapons, new ships, new stormtroopers, new costumes, new looks, new villains, new heroes and a new legends that are just teased to us.
That's also where things fall apart a little, and it's not to any fault of the filmmakers. I think the biggest flaw is that this film is stretched way too thin. It's a part of the Disney "machine" that is cranking out comic books, novels, video games, a new (amazing) themed land in two parks and of course the new "TV" shows coming to Disney+. All this new content is "cannon" and exists in the Star Wars Universe. With this amount of content all connecting to this movie in some way or another (and they do in small, less than Marvel's attempt), there's a ton of small details that are to be filled in later in those smaller, more intimate settings. I think Disney executives are thinking this is a way to sell more "byproduct" of the films, but it really makes the film a bit clunky and you miss some plot details. There's a few moments of like "where did that come from?" or "how did that happen?" I felt like the editor had some Disney brass with a gun to their head making them stick to the bladder-tested time of 2 hours and 20 minutes, and the editor just cried as they had to chop up the beautiful shots and scenes that maybe had a lasting moment, or a little more explanation. Maybe there is a director's cut coming?? This movie could really use the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Extended Edition treatment.
But that was me going into this movie knowing I'd soon be writing this (and a future spoiler) review. Then the 10-year-old inside of me was kicking me in the shin saying, "It's a Star Wars movie, dude!" And he was right.
Lots of things you have to let go of what you have learned, because we may forget, Star Wars is NOT science-fiction, it is science-fantasy. This means, as an audience, we must be more willing to suspend our disbelief and just go with it. Maybe it's a sign of the times, but it seems more and more people can't do that. Star Wars makes you do that, it makes you be a kid again because you're willing to accept things and just go with it. It's a fun, rollicking adventure through space that adheres to the poetry patterns of George Lucas. In a way, you're not surprised about how things end up, but for a moment, you're not sure how it's going to happen.
There was ONE thing that took me out of the movie and the story. Just one. Most people who have seen this movie probably already know what I'm talking about because it's not a small thing. It's a big moment with some of our characters we've gotten to know over these three films (and books, and theme parks, etc.), but it felt so unnecessary and out of place that the suspension of disbelief is so far out, it snaps you in the face like a rubber band at that moment. *Sigh*
But again, it's a Star Wars movie, dude! And a good one at that. Kids will love it, big kids will love it, and parents will have fun too! It's just a pure fun and a joy of a movie to go to. This movie is the reason why we love to go to the movies. Well done! I'll be posting my spoiler review soon, after another viewing or two of the film. I want to see it again! The re-watchability of this movie is great! Go see it... then go see it again.
And may the force be with you.