The Rise of Skywalker, on first impressions

My first impression of the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga can be simply summarized:

 

I could rest on that. Just a few additional thoughts for the moment, though:

  • This actually felt like a satisfying conclusion to the sequel trilogy. It directly addressed a surprising number of the questions I wanted answered following The Last Jedi.
  • Critics are right. J.J. Abrams plays this film incredibly safe and attempts to appease as many fans as possible. I could see some people being angry about various elements of the film. I can imagine that most people will find something to like and will grudgingly accept some of the events in the film that feel like compromises between warring camps of fandom and ideologies about what Star Wars is. Turns out, though, in catering to fans, there’s a lot of fan service, and while I’m normally frustrated by fan service, I’m also (as it turns out) a pretty big Star Wars fan, and boy was I serviced by this film.
  • Most disappointingly, this film is cowardly in its LGBTQ representation. When I write more spoilery things, I’ll get into this more. If I were queer and hoping for representation, I might even be angry. The small concession to representation here is almost condescendingly small even as the filmmakers seem determined to walk back some other implicitly queer elements of the previous films.
  • Despite playing it safe in terms of filmmaking and storytelling, the movie does manage to introduce some cool new things to the canon Star Wars mythology–and to recycle some of the weirder Legends content in interesting ways.
  • There was a lot of great droid content in this film, and C-3PO actually gets to be significant again.
  • I’m feeling kind of smug about correctly predicting one plot point (at least, in a very broad sense).

Opinions will vary wildly, and people will surely have some strong reactions to this closing chapter. That’s okay; I’ve been a part of this fandom for long enough to be used to that with every new Star Wars property, especially the films. But even with my points of criticism and concern above, I still had a blast watching this. And I already want to watch it again!

5 thoughts on “The Rise of Skywalker, on first impressions

  1. I, too, had a good time on first viewing, and I will be seeing it again in the theater. (IMAX 3D, no less!) But the more I sit with it, the more I find it souring for me. I intensely dislike the attempt to “have it both ways” with Rey’s backstory (especially when, if we for whatever reason couldn’t just be content with her being “nobody,” we had a ready-made way to handle it given what the Prequels had established and/or strongly suggested). I have other complaints, but am really trying hard not to dwell on them too much. Like you, I did like Threepio having real stuff to do once more. And Daisy Ridley’s a keeper, even if I would have handled Rey’s story differently.

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    1. I’ve actually sort of put off seeing it again, despite opportunities to do so. I’m realizing more and more that a lot of the story choices were certainly less favorable options. It’s almost like, on some level, if I see it again I know I’m going to like it a little less. Weird mental space to be in.

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      1. It is weird that I was so eager to see it again immediately after and yet I’ve made no effort to go. And as time passes, I feel less inclined to see it again. I think I’ll still like it a lot! So weird to be so concerned about losing affection for a movie on a second, more critical viewing.

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        1. Well, having now seen it a second time, I can honestly say I had another wonderful time at the theater, and still have some reservations about its choices in my mind. But I guess I’ll have to be content with those realities coexisting!

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