SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Don’t think I can say that any plainer – there be spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie yet!
JJ Abrams sure can tap-dance
I have to be honest that comment just kept rolling around my mind as I shook my head in admiration. It’s like he read all the fan theories, and looked up the varying sections of the fanbase, and then couldn’t choose so tried to do the lot. Rey was a Palpatine, and a Skywalker, and her parents were still nobodies (it was her grandfather, and her chosen/found family that were known people). Finn never said I love you to Rey but it was clear, and there was also lots of banter and hugs between Finn, Rey and Poe. So if you shipped Finn/Rey or Finn/Poe there was stuff there.
The elephant in the room
I hate Kylo Ren with a passion and I despise ‘Reylo’ and the interaction between Rey and Kylo Ren makes my skin crawl. At the end when he grabbed her and was cradling her in his arms I was muttering to myself “please don’t kiss, I can’t unsee that” over and over because DID NOT WANT! But they did kiss and then he died – he was redeemed in death and fulfilled his grandfather’s (Anakin’s) dream of saving people from dying.
To put it bluntly I’m pretending the kiss never happened (to continue with the tap-dance I guess he had to throw Reylo fans a bone) and Kylo Ren is dead so there was no ‘going off into the sunset together’ which would have made me throw-up. Instead the ending was the group hug with Finn, Rey and Poe – now that is a friendship/family/partnership I can get behind!
What I loved
Ok so moving past anything Kylo Ren related I’m actually pretty thrilled with how this movie turned out. There was lots of banter between Finn, Rey and Poe. BB-8 was there! Rey got a really cool yellow lightsaber at the end. I don’t know how they had the archive footage that enabled them to bring General Leia into such prominence but I’m eternally grateful that they did, even if I did get a bit misty-eyed at it.
I loved them addressing Leia and the force. It always bothered me that in the Force Awakens she wasn’t a Jedi because she was strong in the force – why wouldn’t Luke have trained her? Knowing that she was trained but decided on a different path (a bit like Ahsoka) does make sense. Leia was strong enough to do what was right, that’s why Yoda wanted to train her (and didn’t think Luke was ready).
Lando was back! I loved him being in the Millennium Falcon with Chewie and saving the day with Finn and Jannah. Wedge Antilles had a cameo! I totally wasn’t expecting that but it’s really nice to know that some people from the old days survived. It’s been thirty years and yes the galaxy has been in turmoil but I hope they had some kind of good life, I really do. Then there was The Ghost – just the ship, no word on Spectre 7 (Jacen Syndulla) or the fate of any of the other Rebels BUT we did get Ahsoka and Kanan in the Jedi voices at the end!
Also that unexpected appearance from Han Solo. I totally wasn’t expecting that. I half-thought that Luke Skywalker would appear as a force ghost but I figured that option was out for Han Solo. However, Kylo Ren conjured a memory, or maybe force-sensitive Han is a thing? I’ve always thought it likely seeing as he can shoot without even looking in that direction and score a hit.
I thought the plot was also stronger. Yes they were searching for a MacGuffin again, and yes that Sith fleet was ridiculous but it was cohesive. All the characters were moving towards the same goal – and it was memorable. The Last Jedi was a mess, stuff happened: Poe got yelled at, Leia was blasted into space, Finn and Rose went to a casino, Rey had some gross force visions with Kylo Ren and they killed Snoke, Chewie saved the day with the Falcon – all over the place. I get that the middle movie is supposed to be the building one but the Empire Strikes Back still worked together as a whole, but I digress, this is supposed to be about the good stuff in Rise of Skywalker, of which there was a lot!
But there was also some not-so-good stuff
I’ve already mentioned the icky-Reylo/Kylo Ren stuff – yuck! However there was other stuff that I would have preferred if it had gone differently.
Leia’s death is a big one. I really, really wish they hadn’t killed her on-screen. They brought her back to life with the archived footage, couldn’t they have taken her victory hugs from the Force Awakens? I really did not want her to die in-universe, that was a massive blow. Although I did like the force-ghost thing because Jedi Leia is something I support (as I’ve already stated).
Kylo Ren’s redemption – I know, I know I said I’d already mentioned it but I hadn’t explained! I knew it was coming, it echoed too much with Darth Vader’s turn back to the light at the end of Return of the Jedi and with all the talk about this movie being about ‘hope’ I knew JJ Abrams would do it. I just wish he hadn’t because some people are BAD. When Ben Solo decided to slaughter his fellow padawans and become a Sith – that was the point of no return. He then joined the Force Order as a commander and committed war crimes, acts of genocide – definitely a lot of murder and torture. Then he killed his dad. Then he did the ultimate Sith thing in killed his master and taking his place (while trying to recruit a new apprentice for himself). Some people are evil and yes it’s sad that it’s Han and Leia’s kid but that doesn’t give him a pass. Darth Vader’s redemption was less a lurch back to the light and more that he wanted to save his son – the galaxy was a side benefit. That sacrifice worked but for Kylo Ren? No because the guy is creepy and anything between him and Rey was utterly manufactured bollocks. Also it made him a complete pale imitation. Everything Darth Vader was stronger and better, Kylo Ren didn’t even get his own ending.
Rose wasn’t in it enough, she was relegated to a background character which was sad. Also the Knights of Ren were criminally underused. They had backgrounds as fellow padawans whom defected with Kylo Ren I believe? So who were they? Did they have parents like Han and Leia? Merlin forbid one of them was Jacen Syndulla! I think it’s like the Sith Inquisitors, the Jedi-hunters (who were former turned Jedi) – that loss of faith, that betrayal is interesting. I know the Sith Inquisitors only played out in Star Wars Rebels and the Jedi Fallen Order game but the Knights of Ren were a bigscreen opportunity for some conflict. I liked that Jannah was a former stormtrooper, pressed into service like Finn who said no, so the Knights of Ren had no inner conflicts? General Hux act of jealousy was ok but they could have done so much more.
Why did they go with Sith Wayfinder? I honestly thought it was a holocron for a minute but nope something new – why always something new? They should use what they already have. The same with Exegol – why a new Sith world, why not Malachor where the Rebels crew found a massive doomsday weapon and a Sith Temple (where Darth Vader battled Ahsoka and Kanan was blinded). Why not Korriban (or Maraband as it was renamed in the Clone Wars) as that’s an established Sith homeworld? WHY ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW? I’m serious! Why not use established lore? It’s very annoying!
The best movie of the new trilogy by far. The Force Awakens suffered with a lot more logic problems in that MacGuffin search because why would there be an incomplete map to Luke Skywalker? Why would some random guy (possibly a refugee from Alderaan) have a fragment but only a fragment? It didn’t make sense. This one tracked a lot better and I guess it benefited because the characters were already established. I knew I loved Finn and Poe and BB-8 and Rey grew on me a lot this movie.
There was also a lot of fan-service. I reckon look up fan-service in the dictionary and there would be this movie as it was basically all fan-service – and that’s a good thing! I started this ramble by saying “man JJ Abrams can tap-dance” but that’s what he did! and in my opinion it worked! Sure there were bits I didn’t like but there was enough of the stuff I did that I can just ignore the yucky gross kiss and pretend like it never happened – there was something for everyone there I reckon which is a hard balance to pull off. Sure there will be people mad that Kylo Ren died, that he didn’t get a HEA with Rey (puke) but that was never on the cards. Kylo Ren had gone much too far down the evil road to get to turn back like that.
I actually can’t wait for this movie to come out on DVD – I want to watch it again! Now that is a good sign 🙂