STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – THE GRAND FINALE OF THE SKYWALKER TRILOGY OF TRILOGIES

The time has come to a close for the Skywalkers and a lot of tears of joy, sadness and despair were shed during my three screenings of THE RISE OF SKYWALKER in 24hrs with Kernel Claire. JJ Abrams has crafted his Star Wars Magnum Opus that has critics and a lot of people in an uproar like they had just seen the last season of Game of Thrones again, I admit there were a lot of darkly lit scenes but THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is an intelligent and deep film about the strengths of the STAR WARS universe all packaged up to try and keep fans happy, try and fix the even more heavily polar reactions on THE LAST JEDI, and to end a trilogy of trilogies in what is arguable the largest franchise of all time. A blind person would have more luck doing brain surgery during turbulence in keeping everyone happy.

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is out now, if you live on Jakku and had no idea. It is rated M, is released from Disney (the true Empire) and runs for 141mins.

WARNING – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ALL THE SPOILERS

STAR WARS THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Chewie, Finn and Poe image
Chewie, Finn and Poe

BY JASON KING

STAR WARS AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS:

How does one describe this final film. It is the culmination of a trilogy of trilogies – there is a lot to answer and get through. Personally I think it should have been another hour longer to give it all more justice but JJ does know how to tell a damn fine story. The best way to describe it is that it’s basically the plot for the entire Harry Potter series in one movie. Palpatine is back from the dead, the evil Voldermorted bastard. To find him the student, Rey, and her friends must find the Sith Wayfinder (close to as horribly named as Unobtanian), or The Star Wars’ Universe Deathly Hallows. Kylo is bad but is good and likes to be a bastard in a black cape with long black hair, even he makes better entries than Snape. Sadly Luke, our Dumbledore has gone to heaven early.

And to round it out one cannot survive while the other lives. The final chapter dives deep into the Force Dyam – basically the ying and yang of the force. Besides the screwed up families of the STAR WARS universe it has always been about balancing the force. NOW MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW – Rey and Kylo are the Force Dyam – they balance each other – the Sith will always try and defeat the Jedi and the Jedi will always try and defeat the Sith. But Grand Leader Snoke binds Kylo and Rey together in THE LAST JEDI.

Kylo is born into goodness but battles his evil past and conflicts with both with the dark side mostly winning. Rey is (unaware) born into pure evil but has nothing but light in her – her history and where she could end up is a conflict she battles only because of fear. They are both the Dark and the Light. I doubt Snoke realised what he was creating when he bound them but it created an almost symbiotic singular being that had more than twice the power of a Jedi or a Sith, it started to build and build until they could physically be with each other even though light years away, the connection became unstoppable when they could start giving each other items across time and space and their spiritual connection was realised.

STAR WARS THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Stormtroopers image
Stormtroopers

COULD ANY DIRECTOR MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY WITH THIS FINALE?

For what JJ achieved with THE RISE OF SKYWALKER he deserves nothing but praise, making this film would have been the hardest thing he has ever done. It is by no means perfect, there is a lot I thought needed improvement but often times it is the imperfections that make things perfect. When the original trilogy released there wasn’t an internet with a few billion people passing judgement from their living room as if they were peers, nope, we adored them because they were an epic space operatic trilogy. But now instead of a 100 films released in a year there is closer to a 1000 and everyone passes quick judgement like they are scrolling instagram, like >> keep scrolling >> like >> leave a comment. I am doing it right now but instead of 145 characters I am using about 2500 words.

The things that I disliked:

  1. There wasn’t anywhere near enough of The Knights of Ren – we had all been waiting on one epic KOR battle and it fizzled out.
  2. The single most iconic scene in the movie is in the trailer – this completely drained it’s impact. The ship backflip.
  3. I wanted to know a hell of a lot more about Palpatine’s minions – at one stage it was like they were bursting into a choral rendition of Duel of Fates, but we got nothing but shadows.
  4. JJ pandered to fans too much – at times it did feel like a lot of boxes were being ticked. AVENGERS: END GAME did the same thing. But I really can’t blame either film for this – they all had threads that needed finishing.
  5. Major fault – when Kylo goes to fight the Knights of Ren his gun completely disappears.
  6. I felt Emperor Palpatine’s re-emergence and elimination weren’t as powerful as he deserved – it was like a weak ass version of Voldemort in THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE. It would have been better bringing him back in THE FORCE AWAKENS.
  7. Why did Finn need a female interest that looked like him and had the same history in Jannah (Naomi Ackie)? He had one from THE LAST JEDI in Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). But even more than that his gay chemistry with Poe is possibly the best chemistry from any couple in the Star Wars universe.
  8. I never knew Leia had Jedi training?? Is this something I missed in the expanded universe that I never read? I quite liked it but it appeared to be too late an addition to the cinematic universe.
  9. Creepy Lando at the end with Jannah – was that a nod that they could be related? Is there a pending film where Lando will search for Jannah’s family and past. It sounded creepy – it was old Lando “hey baby, let’s find out, and oh, call me daddy.” Ewwww haha
  10. What was Finn going to say to Rey? IT NEVER GOT SAID!!! I gather it was that he was Force Sensitive, they made it obvious enough throughout the movie.
  11. A lot of rehashed plot points from the original trilogy do make this look a lot like a larger scaled version of RETURN OF THE JEDI. JJ did this with THE FORCE AWAKENS.
STAR WARS THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Rey and Kylo image
Rey and Kylo

The Things I Liked:

  1. They handled Leia’s passing with much respect – it is quite obvious where they managed to re-purpose footage or shadow out completely her face. Obvious but very passable.
  2. Rose wasn’t much liked in THE LAST JEDI – I felt sad for Kelly Marie Tran that they completely Jah Jah’d her to the sideline. I do not disapprove of it however as I much preferred Poe and Finn’s chemistry.
  3. Which leads me to – Poe and Finn’s chemistry is off the charts. They literally spend the entire movie like a couple, JJ totally got them to exploit this as it tested positively with nearly everyone. The looks of judgement Boyega would give Isaac had me in stitches on all three viewings. Claire and I even discussed the long nights on the Falcon and what happens on the Falcon stays on the Falcon haha – I need to find their fan fiction haha.
  4. 3PO finally gets his moment – the decision is up to him and he is finally treated as an equal – that scene “one last look at my friends,” got me every time in the trailer and in the movie.
  5. Just how cinematic the film is – it is shot all in film!!! Shot on 35mm, 70mm and the second movie in the series to be shot on 70mm film, and the first Star Wars movie since RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983) to be shot entirely on celluloid. the depth of field, visuals, dark scenes and awe inspiring qualities are off the charts – you need to see this on the biggest and loudest cinema you can find – hunt down Atmos cinemas if you can.
  6. The theme of family – I just adore this. The film has so much heart that it’s almost the quieter emotional scenes that steal the movie.
  7. Finn has the force and I need to know more!!!
  8. The inclusion of the Star Wars Universe – regardless of the force and the atual star wars the universe has evolved to be inclusive of everyone, every race, every sexuality, people that aren’t all gorgeous, people with emotional and psychological issues and it allows them to be what we can only now describe as “whole.” Seeing characters with emotions runs strong in this film. The strongest of characters are pushed to breaking point and they are allowed to grieve, seeing Chewie grieve Leia got me every time. Seeing Poe, the General, almost break down in their darkest hour, superb. And finally hearing R2D2s sad chirps when Leia passes – heartbreaking.
  9. Chewbacca receiving Han’s A NEW HOPE gold medal from Maz Kanata, I think I openly wept at the end seeing that. A terrible mistake made in A NEW HOPE finally mended.
  10. That Kiss – surprisingly this is one of the most talked about (negatively) aspects of the film I have heard. But the sexual tension Rey and Kylo had in every scene while having lightsaber battles was off the chart. And the connection they also shared being the Force Dyam means they were two halves of the one perfect pairing. The kiss is as much relief and love and was almost required from the pair after reaching their emotional enlightenment. If you hate the kiss, in my mind you missed the point. There is a reason it is also the ONLY scene you see Kylo smile – it was a perfect moment shared by a perfect couple.
  11. If Rey struck down the Emperor his soul and life force would enter her along with all the Sith – technically she did – but willingly Kylo gave his life force to her – the Dyad is alive and strong and in balance with the Emperor inside of her. She is the balanced Dyad – she has all the Jedi and all the Sith living inside of her. This makes me warm and fuzzy.
STAR WARS THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Chewie, Poe, Finn and Rey image
Chewie, Poe, Finn and Rey

A CAST I JUST ADORE:

One of the greatest assets of the the final Skywalker film and trilogy is the cast. They were all family – I found their bond as great as the original quad of Luke, Leia, Hand and Chewie (plus the droids). Fisher and Hamill have some decent scenes, even though Luke is wholly a force projection and Leia is wholly archival footage. It works. Luke’s final scene is one of brilliance and the fact he was allowed to look at the audience is so Mark Hamill it was worth a laugh as much it was a full circle tear to see him now become a true Master that Yoda would be proud of.

Daisy Ridley makes it look too damn easy – her grace, passion and raw talent on the screen truly make her a marvel of the franchise. Likewise Adam Driver, Claire and I were talking about him. He is so lanky and so overbearing but he is also so bloody sexual – we both crushed on him and agreed, he was definitely the most interesting character out of all nine films. The depth, pain and character arc of Kylo is superb. Lovebirds Boyega and Isaac are two of my favourite non-shown gay characters of all time haha. Well, more bi-sexual characters of all time. I love them!! Boyega had so much growth throughout the trilogy and Isaac is a bloody awesome actor!

Chewie nailed it, so too did C3PO and R2D2. Ian McDiarmid had an all too brief, and not as menacing, return as the Emperor and personal fave Lupita Nyong’o almost stole the show as Maz Kanata. I totally want a Maz TV show after THE MANDALORIAN. I enjoyed Keri Russell’s Zorii Bliss and want more of her character and it was awesome seeing Billy Dee Williams return as Lando. Domhnall Gleeson was a perfect stupid shit as General Lux – his negative chemistry with Kylo was hysterical. And finally – casting Richard E. Grant as General Pryde was a stroke of genius.

STAR WARS THE RISE OF SKYWALKER The Falcon image
The Falcon

BURYING THE LIGHTSABERS ON THE RISE OF SKYWALKER:

Like the film, THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, no one will agree on my review. It’s why I love movies so much, they speak to us all so differently. Is it my favourite Star Wars movie? not by a long shot. Is it a wonderful ending to the trilogy of trilogies, for me – YES. I would love to honour the last word of the trilogy of trilogies and suggest you get on out there and support The Rise of SKYWALKER.

KERNEL CLAIRE’S POP SCORE:

KERNEL JOHN’S POP SCORE:

SALTY’S POP SCORE:

KERNEL BLAKE’S POP SCORE:

KERNEL ELIE’S POP SCORE

YOUR CRITIC:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. A movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict he is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. 

He believes all it takes to make a good movie is a bloody good story, with a little luck the rest should fall in line. He is getting a little sick of saying “story story story” in his reviews with so much shite releasing in the last decade. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.