Spoilers ahead for Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
First of all, first of all, first of all, and most importantly of all: If you enjoyed RoS, I am truthfully so happy for you. This is supposed to be about fun and joy, and, if that’s what you got, I am thrilled for you. I want that for you.
I had a very different experience. And, to be fair, as I look back on Thursday night, I was having a night where I needed Star Wars too much. Thursday night was a hard night, and Star Wars felt like a thing I deserved, like a thing I was owed. And that’s not how things ought to work.
My bones felt it during “A long time ago…” People around me were talking, and I was too anxious. I sat hunched forward the whole time, tense and needy. I asked too much of Rise of Skywalker.
All those caveats made, though, my feelings are still my feelings. And I feel very disappointed by Rise of Skywalker. I am not a film critic, so forgive my amateur’s opinions, BUT:
The thesis of my sadness comes down to the fact that I felt this movie was a “Fuck you” to The Last Jedi, which I deeply loved. Backtracking on Rey’s lineage really frustrated me. Going back to the dichotomy of Jedi=Absolute Good, Sith=Absolute Bad after it seemed like we were finally heading towards a new kind of balance really frustrated me. The absolute waste of Rose Tico REALLY frustrated me.
The unkindest thing I have to say about Rise of Skywalker is that it felt like cowardly filmmaking. The Last Jedi, whatever else needs to be said about it, is daring for a Star Wars movie. I interpreted Rise of Skywalker as Disney bending over backwards to re-establish a kind of status quo that, I believe, Last Jedi very artfully dismantled.
Say what you will about the prequels, but at least they’re a cohesive bit of nonsense. Rise of Skywalker feels like proof that no one had a longterm plan going into this trilogy. Which, to be fair, is very Star Wars of it.
I’m really bummed, you guys.
That kiss was THE ONE THING I EXPLICITLY DIDN’T WANT TO HAPPEN.
There were moments I liked, to be fair. I thought that the scene between Adam Driver and Harrison Ford was really excellent. I thought that the movie looked really beautiful and cool. Leia training with Luke made me happy. I liked it when Wedge showed up.
I cried when Chewie got his medal.
I’m going to go back, though. I’m going to go back with different expectations, and in a different headspace. I will never not give Star Wars all the chances. This is not a thing about which I’m ready to be cynical.
This is not a thing about which I will ever harass anyone for their differing opinion.
So, again, if you liked it: Awesome! I’m really happy for you! I want to get there, too. I mean, it’s Star Wars. It’s my favorite thing.
In the meantime, in case you haven’t seen it, I’d like to leave you with my favorite YouTube video of all time: the excellent Just Write’s episode about “Why We Can’t Agree About The Last Jedi (Or Art in General.)”
Just like any great thing (ice cream comes to mind), there are multiple flavors of Star Wars. I didn’t dig Rise of Skywalker, but that can’t stop me from getting all the scoops of The Last Jedi anytime I like. And, if you weren’t into Last Jedi, cool! There’s plenty of Empire to go around.
Happy Holidays, and May the Force Be With You.