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Friday, December 20, 2019

A brief, non-spoilerish review of STAR WARS EPISODE IX: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

Now look, I waited decades... decades... to be able to say that I have seen "Episode Nine".  It became like a lifelong hope that someday, as the Plaid One promised in that Reader's Digest article in 1982, there would be nine of the Star Wars movies and I wanted to see all of them.  'Course, Lucas was referring to the core "Skywalker Saga" at the heartmeat of the saga, and had no idea about the other works that would come (like Rogue One, or The Mandalorian which gets better and better with each new episode).

So yeah.  I haven't been saying "The Rise of Skywalker" these last several months.  Almost every time I've mentioned seeing "Episode Nine".  And wanna know a cold hard truth?  There are a lot of Star Wars fans, better than I'll ever be, who didn't make it this far.  Life in this world can be a cruel, cruel thing.  Fate can take any of us at any moment.  So many were hoping to see Episode Nine, but for one reason or another... they were taken from us.  And often long before there was even a glimmer of hope that there would be any new Star Wars at all past Revenge of the Sith.  I owe it to them to honor the dream, that they too longed to see come to pass.  It's the least that I can do.

Let's get into it.  Last night I caught the first showing of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (let's just call it The Rise of Skywalker for the rest of the post) along with some friends.  After something like 23 trailers the movie began.  And so did the end of my quest.

To be as brutally honest as I can be (and there will be no spoilers here), The Rise of Skywalker is a dense hot mess of a motion picture that is heavy - maybe too heavy - on exposition.  Perhaps also some derivatives of other works... like, say, The Goonies (that's the closest I'll come to spoilers, promise).  And there were two elements of the story that had it been me in the director's chair, would have been drastically changed.  One of them makes NO sense whatsoever in line with established canon.  The other, well... maybe you will figure it out during the course of the film.

The Rise of Skywalker can be a slog to work through.  At least for the first half or maybe even two-thirds.  But that last good stretch of it?

Holy smokes!!!

The back half of The Rise of Skywalker almost completely redeems whatever faults came before.  Give J.J. Abrams and his crew their due: they did accomplish the seemingly impossible.  They tied up eight previous films across the past forty-two years, and put a beautiful bow on the entire saga.  Put simply: the thing works!  And as I heard some speak while the credits were rolling, this movie even makes The Last Jedi a much better film.  Which, I have to agree.  The Last Jedi has given me more fits than any other Star Wars movie about whether I like it or don't.  I won't be seeing The Rise of Skywalker again this weekend, but I will watch The Last Jedi with refreshed eyes.

Is The Rise of Skywalker perfect?  Far from it.  But it is what it is: a Star Wars movie.  With all the action and outrageousness and humor and nonsense that you've come to expect from the franchise.  It may not be the best "entry level" film of the saga.  This is a film especially for those who have been along for the ride.  But if you have been following the saga all along, I believe you may agree: that The Rise of Skywalker is a magnificent capstone atop this grand monument of modern mythology.

That's pretty much all I'm going to say.  It's all you need to have, if you haven't seen The Rise of Skywalker yet.  Best to go in cold, knowing as little as possible.

Oh yeah, one more thing: this saga is called "Star Wars".  If you thought we haven't seen a REAL "star war", ooh-boy... are YOU in for a treat!