When George Lucas first pitched the notion of Star Wars to a studio, he was laughed at and turned away. His project of fun for teenagers was struggling to make its way into production, that is until 20th Century Fox saw his previous success with American Graffiti (1973) and propelled his script into reality.
That was forty three years ago, and this week has seen the release of the final Star Wars installment; The Rise of Skywalker. What’s important to note about this final film, is the audience it was made for. Director J.J. Abrams is no stranger to science fiction cinema having directed the re-boots of Star Trek starting in 2009 and a gorgeous small feature Super 8 (2011). Making the final Star Wars film however would have been a challenge for him. We are talking about generations of families, perhaps billions of people loyally dedicated to these films, and a franchise worth almost $70 billion dollars.
Firstly, I will justify why I liked The Rise of Skywalker, then I’ll jump to what it got wrong. I can’t say I’m a die hard Star Wars fan, I’ve never been able to tell you every character, nor what every phrase, planet or product means, simply because I can do that with Harry Potter and a large amount of Hitchcock masterpieces. Yet, in a controversial opinion these last three films have revived the Star Wars franchise for a huge amount of people around the world, let alone, breaking it into new ground, a new generation. There was so much ground to cover for The Rise of Skywalker, that it is impossible to cater for everyone across our galaxy watching it. What I liked about it (Ben, Ben, BEN) Someone will undoubtedly hate, and vice versa.
In terms of production, in correspondence to the criticism of The Last Jedi (2017) a large amount of CGI was dropped in favor for natural locations and studios. This made an overall improvement in the scale of the film and, personally, it is always nicer to see reality over fiction. This even passes to the scenes of the late Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) Her scenes are derived from previous footage mixed together, eliminating all aspects of CGI. In terms of space (That wide open place we rotate in) Its a little technically advanced to bring a studio up there, The Rise of Skywalker is not absent of CGI, but it was refreshing to see it held back.
The strongest part of The Rise of Skywalker was the cast, and the persistence to get everyone back in the game for one last time. An admiration comes to Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn) and Oscar Isaac (Poe) for there revival of the original trio Carrie Fisher (Leia), Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker). All of which make an appearance in The Rise of Skywalker. Joining them is Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose), Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) and Richard E. Grant (Allegiant General Pride). Its a big cast, with a lot more that should be mentioned. The both on screen and off screen chemistry with the new trio is a fresh intake for a new set of children and adults to fall into, and surprisingly, I found myself loving the characteristics of Ben Solo.
Now, you might have read the name Palpatine above and skimmed over it. Let me highlight that absolute bizarre logic they tried to put across to the audience. Palpatine is Rey’s Grandfather… I wasn’t impressed by this at all. We all knew something like this was going to happen, Rey couldn’t just be no one, but here’s my argument, why not? I love the idea of the force being available and a gift to anyone and everyone, not an elite group of people. It would have surprised us all much more if this was the case, as it stands it was still a bit of a shock that J.J. Abrams decided to bring him back, when really that was unnecessary and there was a clear story line between Kylo and Rey built from the beginning. However, Rey still shuns her name and takes on the Skywalkers at the end, nodding to a ghostly Leia and Luke for their approval. This was awkward and I liked that she took their name, but did they need to stand there in a cliche of blue smoke? No.
I also had a problem with the character developments. Rey, fought her dark side with little added to it. In many ways, The Last Jedi (2017) was in direct parallels to The Rise of Skywalker. It didn’t give Rey room to grow, she was following the path of Leia and Luke, not her own. I wanted to see far more Rey and Kylo into Ben scenes, letting the audience see what development we could get out of a simply bad person into a great one. In correspondence to the ending, I still can’t believe they did that. Redemption is a key trait of Star Wars, yet being the last film, you’d have thought a happy ending was also a plausible action. Yet, Ridley and Driver are incredible actors born to play these roles, they are a perfect casting.
Despite my rambles, I really did enjoy it. In terms of all the other bad reviews, what did you expect? It had to end on something and it wasn’t going to please everyone. This was a film for the fans over it being logical. Its entertaining, full of brilliant actors and while I pace over the story being weak, we can all agree that Star Wars has been one heck of a ride. My dad told me that he remembers going to see A New Hope (1977) with his friends, and there I was watching the last with mine. These are generational films, offering escapism and a whole lot of fun. Go with an open mind and revel in the power that George Lucas created all those years ago, go to a galaxy far far away.