A Film Review for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
By Kayla Swartzberg
Illustration by Gaby Wellman (’20)
I believe with great certainty that Lucasfilm is the definition of ethos. Find it in a dictionary. Look it up online. Because Lucasfilm has delivered so many out-of-this-world Star Wars movies that it’s hard not to give the company credit. And as the Star Wars reputation becomes engraved in stardust gold, the more people watch the coveted films with one thing in mind: to find the flaws.
Why? The Dark Side made them do it.
The newest Star Wars feature, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is Episode IX in the series, and the last installment of the third trilogy. In other words, it finishes the stories of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren, and their relationships with the “O.G.”s, Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie. Emperor Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious (rhymes with “hideous”), makes a comeback in this movie, looking deadlier than ever.
Going into the theater, I had very high expectations. I think most people did, hence the hunt for imperfections. The question of “Is this the last one?” hung over everyone’s heads, and we all knew that if Star Wars was ending, then this movie better leave a lasting mark on the cinematography universe.
So, did it? Depends on who you ask.
As for myself, I have some thoughts. Buckle up.
Firstly, the three musketeers in The Rise of Skywalker (Rey, Finn, and Poe), however loyal they are to the cause of the Rebels and saving each others’ lives, don’t actually show signs of real friendship. Poe and Finn hold quick conversations of one-liners, trying to out-macho each other. Maybe for Rey’s sake, when she isn’t abandoning them. All three fail to notice a certain furry friend getting captured.
You know who.
Secondly, the lack of narrative is prevalent in this film because there are so many hellos, goodbyes, and face-offs—none of which are bad, per se—that the storyline gets washed away. What’s left? Snippets of different stories mashed together into one.
The Chosen One.
Thirdly, the movie doesn’t shy away from the classic Star Wars theme of “keeping it in the family” (remember “Luke, I am your father”?) especially concerning Rey’s identity. And while the reveal itself seemed anti-climactic, Rey’s identity fit the storyline relatively well.
But my lips are sealed.
Until they aren’t sealed. A big concern I had with the movie was its constant violence. At some point I developed a sort of numbness toward it, and I pondered whether this is why real violence and gore has become such an apparent American phenomenon.
Too much Force, I suppose?
The truth is, the movies with young Luke, Leia, and Han were more memorable than the newer movies because they weren’t filled with fighting the entire time. No, in those movies colorful aliens danced and sang, old spaceships sputtered, garbage compactors squished, carbonite froze, and ewoks cheered. People talked, talked, instead of smoldered. They took their time, and that was the sign of the times.
As for The Rise of Skywalker, I would recommend it to Star Wars fans. Not that a warning would stop the hard-cores from kicking open the doors and wrestling for a seat in the theater. I would recommend the movie because of its fantastic film score (God bless John Williams), its hypnotic visuals, clever cinematography, purposeful acting, and, of course, its long-anticipated reveal of Rey’s identity.
Knock yourself out.
It’s purebred entertainment. And, not to mention, there is something very philosophical about the whole “good side and bad side” of a person, or of two people. It reminds me of the Jewish belief in “yetzer ha-ra,” the evil inclination, and “yetzer ha-tov,” the good inclination. It also reminds me of the angel and the devil. Of Cain and Abel. Esau and Jacob. Rey and… Kylo?
You tell me.
And for all of the Jedi and Sith out there, beware of a few jump scares that will startle you in your seat. One of them being a kiss.
The film also kisses goodbye to the sweet Princess Leia played by Carrie Fisher, who sadly passed away in 2016.
For now, I’d say Lucasfilm wears its gold ethos nicely. The Star Wars reputation upholds. Because although it’s not easy making movies across the galaxies, I think it’s even harder making movies for our galaxy. You can’t please everyone.
Especially with the aliens and all.