Episode 9 in a sentence – children are not their parents. To say any more than that… well, spoilers. Here is my Rise Of Skywalker spoilers review.
In case it wasn’t clear enough already, spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker to follow.
Like Avengers: Endgame, Episode 9 of Star Wars is impossible to talk about without talking spoilers, especially since the first few minutes of the movie are loaded with them. So like I have with the previous entries in the sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, I thought I’d give Episode 9 the same treatment.
This is a review from someone who is quite an avid Star Wars nerd. I’ve played pretty much all the main games, watched Clone Wars (both the 2D and 3D entries), Rebels, and have a passing knowledge on the history of the Star Wars universe, or at least the old history. At the risk of losing you already, this is also written by someone who has always preferred the Star Wars prequels (seriously).
So, what did I think of this one? Do I join the voices of millions across the Internet in their hatred of the film? Not at all. In fact I quite enjoyed it for a lot of its themes, action, and characters. But after having watched the end of the sequel trilogy, I feel like the latest three movies have a big asterix over them for me, and I’ll explain why. Here’s my Rise of Skywalker spoilers review.
Rey the role model
First off I think it needs to be said that I’m glad that young girls have a holistically strong role model in Rey. I think she’s been a great character who hasn’t been overly sexualised, tainted by overt insecurity or marred by the issues that usually detract from some other strong female leads out there. If I ever have a daughter, you can bet I would show her Rey as a strong example of a woman living well. Good job Rey.
Retconning The Last Jedi?
I keep hearing that The Rise of Skywalker retconned a bunch of stuff from The Last Jedi. Some examples of where I don’t think this is the case at all:
- Luke catching the lightsaber instead of throwing it away in the last movie – this is just the fulfillment of Luke’s story from Episode 8, not a reversal of it. He started that movie hating who he was, and by the end grew to accept the weight of his calling
- Rey training with Leia even though she had the Jedi texts – given how powerful she’s become, she’s obviously using both sources
- Palpatine coming back – I guess they were stuck in the corner without a truly consistent villain after Snoke died in the last movie and with Kylo Ren being inherently conflicted, so they needed someone. But a puppetmaster doesn’t negate the puppet at all.
- Rey not actually coming from “nothing” – I thought this made her parents’ decisions even more interesting in that they chose to become nothing to deal with their own parentage
A lightning paced space adventure
A lot of comments are saying that the movie moves at breakneck speed. They’re not wrong, but I thought this was half the fun. As a big fan of Mass Effect and the Knights of the Old Republic games which have pretty much the same pace, I thought there was a really cool feel to Rey, Poe, Chewy and Finn travelling across multiple planets, meeting people and finding artifacts, moving through like missions in a video game or frames in a comic book.
There were lightsabers, Sith holocrons (now called Wayfinders) and really cool locations, including Communist Russia The Planet. They used Force Heal like in the video games and had banter for days. A real blast with some really cool moments, like Papa Palpy shocking the entire fleet akin to some of his ridiculous force powers in The Force Unleashed, and a fantastic use of the Force bond between Rey and Kylo for a fun fight scene.
My favourite part would have to be the voices of the Jedi speaking to Rey, including Anakin, Ahsoka and Kanan Jarrus. The nerd in me exploded with glee. I also really liked the continued theme of Palpatine being all the Sith, which is consistent with a lot of the older Sith Lords in the history of Star Wars. Bravo indeed.
The Plots of the Old Republic
Now that I’ve seen the sequel trilogy, I’m convinced the writers had all played the Knights of the Old Republic games. Consider this:
- KOTOR 1 – a masked Sith lord named Darth Revan is captured and an attempt is made to convert him to the light side by a British sounding Jedi named Bastilla, who is joined to him by a force bond where they are completely linked to each other
- KOTOR 2 – the last known Jedi returns from her self imposed exile following war and tragedy and endeavours to find the true Sith and train the lost Jedi
- The Old Republic – Sith Emperor Vitiate, who has secretly been manipulating the events of the last games as part of his centuries-long plot and possesses an unnatural immunity to death, strikes with a huge armada and a legion of followers from the shadows of the home of the true Sith empire to exact his revenge on the Jedi and the Republic
Let me know if you’ve played this games and you had the same sense of dejavu with Episodes 7, 8 and 9. I didn’t mind this at all though, as George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, made a point that history often repeats itself, like poetry that rhymes. In truth, the challenges humans face today are much the same as they always have been, and while every generation thinks they’re going to be different, we end up fighting the exact same things as the ones before us.
Children are not their parents
Ian McDiarmid who plays Emperor Palpatine in all the movies once described the first six movies as being summed up as “fathers and sons”. With that in mind perhaps I saw that “children are not their parents” is the summary of the new trilogy.
The big shock horror twist of course is that Rey is actually the Emperor’s granddaughter, and of course we know from the first movie that Kylo Ren / Ben Solo is the grandson of Darth Vader. Both of them were predisposed towards a certain path in life, and both of them felt the pressure of the legacy before them to make the same mistakes.
And yet they didn’t. They made their own decisions. They put in the hard work to change their course. Rather than falling into patterns that were set before them, they chose their own path – a choice that lies before all of us, no matter what our history is or where we come from.
Also shout out to Adam Driver for his cool little Anakin tribute with the hand wave after getting his lightsaber back.
An interesting “what if” trilogy
I did have a lot of fun watching the sequel trilogy. But at the end of it all, I think I’m now viewing these new movies as part of a “what if” timeline rather than the true Star Wars history.
For those who aren’t aware, before Disney bought Star Wars, the story was largely complete. Games, books, comics and spin-offs all chartered the course of the remainder of the story, which are now referred to as “Star Wars Legends”. Luke went on and became the Grand Master of the new Jedi order, successfully training many Jedi, and even marrying his Jedi partner Mara Jade. Han and Leia had multiple children who became Jedi (and one a Sith, whoops). Cade Skywalker, Luke’s descendant, eventually slays a later galaxy threat, and Palpatine does indeed transfer his spirit to a few bodies before his final incarnation being destroyed by Han. Chewy already got his medal, and you can’t tell me that Rogue One was anywhere near as good of a story of the Death Star plans as the adventures of Kyle Katarn in the Jedi Knight series.
My biggest challenge with the new films is that Lucas who is the mastermind behind this fantastic universe clearly made a story regarding The Chosen One who did eventually bring balance against a menace that no one else had been able to stop. The way Episode 9 ends, while brilliant and fun and entertaining, almost does away with Lucas’ original thought at the core of his universe. And maybe for that reason, the true Star Wars timeline already exists to me, and these new movies are fascinating alternate realities, kind of like what would have happened if Future Trunks didn’t go back in time with the warning about the Androids (Dragon Ball reference for those playing at home). No harm done there though, as all the stories of all the superheroes and many animes have done exactly the same thing.
All in all, I really loved that core message of Episode 9 and had a really fun time watching it. It seems it’s become cool to pay money to see movies you’re then going to complain about because it didn’t look the way you wanted it to in your head. There’s so much hate and outrage all the time about every freaking thing out there – is it really fun to be that triggered all the time? I think it’s much better to accept what’s been presented by the huge team who put it together and to celebrate it for what it is – a fun and zany space adventure with space magic and mystical knights for a more civilized age.
And Disney will definitely be celebrating all the way to the Mickey Mouse bank with their third Star Wars movie to make over a billion dollars.
So there’s my Rise of Skywalker spoilers review. Did you love it or hate it? Disagree with anything I’ve put forward? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.