Friday, December 20, 2019

A Review of The Rise of Skywalker - First Reaction

I think we really ought to like Rise of Skywalker, even if at first glance there's part of it you didn't like.

We live in a highly partisan, fragmented society today.  I think this has had its impact upon Star Wars fandom in a variety of ways.  On the broadest level there are folks on both sides of the culture war who want their Star Wars to advance/defend their side -- and hence there's a push to view Star Wars in terms of a political agenda.  If that's your approach - you're going to be disappointed.  Nothing aimed at a mass market, lowest common denominator is ever going to reach your desired political purity.

Then there is the fact that many of us have things that we wanted to have happen.  Maybe it's a particular relationship, or perhaps how you wanted the force to be handled, or whatever.  And simply put, Rise of Skywalker isn't going to check all of our hoped for boxes.  In fact, some it specifically crushes.

And I write this as one who had a few of his particular hopes and whims dashed.  Not everything went the way that it would have if I had written it... alas for my Poe and Rey shipping (for the time, at least).  But it's not fair to judge a film simply on whether or not it's the story I wanted.

Rather this - does the story, do the decisions made by Abrams work?  And really - they do.  Fantastically so.

Writing the Rise of Skywalker was an incredibly difficult task.  You have a divided fandom, a divided trilogy so far, with Johnson going in radically different ways than Abrams, plus you have fans of two other eras (and the cartoons, if you want to add them in) to help placate and appeal to.

And Abrams did that.  He wove together the various loose ends of the Sequel trilogy into something that makes sense.  Things might not have resolved how I wanted, or even how I thought they should have - but they made sense.  And he set things up well - every big "force" thing in the last 20 minutes was set up and prepared so that they were logical extensions of what came before.

He did well.

And yes, some of the Abrams things I don't like -- bigger is not always better, nor is more and more and more.  The last battle would still have been good (and even better) if there were only a dozen bad ships and only a quarter of the good guy ships... but if you are an Avengers fan and you liked "on your left" you have absolutely no ground to complain about the ending to Rise of Skywalker.

That that's how Abrams tells the story... and he told a sensible story.  And he told it in a way that tied to the other Sequel films, the Original Trilogy, and the Prequels.  And that is a hard, hard thing to do.  And so even if it didn't go the way I might have wanted in parts - it resolved well.  Especially how he weaved Carrie Fisher into the film - the degree of difficulty in that was astonishing - and he pulled it off.

And there were parts I loved.  I loved the way it dealt with one of my issues from the Force Awakens - See an article I wrote for 1138.  I loved a last cameo in the Falcon gunner seat.  These were things I wanted.

I think, and I hope, that once we as fans get past the baggage and expectations we might bring to the film that we will enjoy it for what it is - a fun, satisfying adventure in a galaxy far far away that we all love.

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