In the immortal words of LOST’s John Locke, “We’re gonna need to watch that again.”
The LOST allusion is not completely out of left field because I saw Charlie on screen tonight as I was watching the final chapter in the Star Wars saga, The Rise of Skywalker. I know Dominic Monaghan has had other roles (including a huge one in Lord of the Rings) but he will always be Charlie Pace from Drive Shaft to me.
After the first viewing of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, I am torn. I enjoyed the process of watching the movie, yet I have major issues with what I saw. I was enjoying the film, but I am afraid that this could be one that I have a different opinion of as time movies along.
I am avoiding all spoilers for this movie review which means that there may not be much that I can talk about at this moment.
The Rise of Skywalker wraps up the third Star Wars trilogy in a way that tries to make everyone happy, and I think that many of the Star Wars fans will love this. There were some really good moments that I liked too. There was a ton of nostalgia in the film. There were things that were fun to see. There was some good humor here and most of the jokes worked for me.
There are some major issues too. First, it was full of too much exposition. They felt the need to explain most everything. Second, the dialogue was not quite the sharpest we have see in this franchise. Third, the pace of the film was a breakneck speed as the movie flew from point to point in the first part of the film. fourth, I do not think that the trio of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and Finn (John Boyega) had the connection that the film wanted them to have. We just have not had enough of these three characters together. I absolutely did not buy the relationship with Rey and Poe. It felt false.
However, the biggest problem I had with this movie was there were so many scenes that were basically the exact same scenes from previous Star Wars movies. As I was watching, I kept thinking that, “Oh that was from Empire. Oh, now we are doing Return of the Jedi.” It was not even just homages either. It almost felt as if they took the exact scenes from the previous movies and just flipped around the characters a bit.
That would become very distracting for me as I was thinking about past movies instead of what was happening in the new one. Because of this choice, there felt to be very little changes taken by J.J. Abrams and the creative forces behind the movie. That certainly feels like a choice made because of the backlash that The Last Jedi suffered. No matter what you think of The Last Jedi, you cannot deny that Rian Johnson took some big swings in that movie. The Rise of Skywalker…not so much. And some of The Last Jedi seemed to be wiped away with this movie too. The Rise of Skywalker did not feel to be a follow-up to The Last Jedi, which brings into question the overall planning of the franchise.
And yet even with these problems, I enjoyed myself fairly well. The third act was shaky for me, but the first hour and an half was a decent time at the movies. That may sound like I am trying to stay on the fence, and that would sound that way because that is exactly what I am doing. This is a movie where I need to reflect on what I saw and let my perceptions settle. I do believe I need to see this again to solidify what I think about it.
I really liked the performances of Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley. They were stand outs here. It was heartbreaking to see Carrie Fisher again and watching how they resolved her absence was one of the tougher aspects of The Rise of Skywalker. The film looked like a Star Wars movie, unlike the entire prequels, which looked like nothing more than a video game/computer graphic background. There was some good action. However, the plot is lackluster, if not lazy. While I enjoyed a good part of the first hour and a half, the story being told was not the best ever. It was basically a “we have to find this thing so we can go there and do this” type of a story and those are not the deepest plots imaginable.
I’m still not sure what my mind is on The Rise of Skywalker. The more I type here, the more reflective I am about the film, the more it seems that I am being negative, but there is no denying that I had fun with the movie. I did not feel that it wasted my time. I am glad that I was there opening night and that I saw it with a full house. It was a moment. Perhaps this truly is a film that I need to see a second time before I commit to what I think. I am afraid that Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is going to be that type of film where I initially feel one thing, but over time, it slips down the chart. I don’t know. But for now, despite the drawbacks I have, I am going to give it …
That still feels too high of a number, but, for now, that is what I am going with. You should see this movie for sure to allow yourself to make up your own mind. Maybe some of the problems I have are not going to bother you. I hope you all enjoy the movie.