The Saga Ends — Reactions to Rise of Skywalker

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Photo by Andrew Wulf on Unsplash

I watched A New Hope on television because I was far too wriggly a child to sit through movies yet. I watched The Empire Strikes Back in my home town’s tiny and long gone theater, with intermissions and an ice cream cart (American readers — Brits, at least at that point, ate ice cream instead of popcorn. It’s a thing).

I watched Rise of Skywalker in a stadium seating theater down the road, at a relatively quiet time.

Theaters have changed a lot, although I didn’t watch it in one with leather recliners…because all the good seats were taken.

The saga ends where it begins. On Tatooine. And it ends with fans much more divided. I remember the arguments about which movie was better (Return of the Jedi, sorry). But back then we didn’t have the internet and we didn’t have rapid communication fanning the flames.

Star Wars then vanished until 1999, when the first of the three prequels showed up. These movies did divide people. Most fans hated them. A few adored them.

And then it vanished again until 2015. And things and times have changed. Luke was replaced by Rey (Daisy Ridley). Our other hero was a black defector from the Empire. (Fans battled to get one black person, Lando Calrissian, included in the original trilogy). Most fans immediately decided Poe Dameron, played by Guatemalan-American actor Oscar Isaac was obviously gay and majorly into Finn (John Boyega). Finn’s very presence revealed all the racists in the fandom. Ship wars started between those who wanted Finn to end up with Rey and those who wanted him to end up with Poe (in some cases leading to allegations of racism and homophobia). Ack.

The Last Jedi proved divisive in a much more traditional Star Wars way…some fans loved it and some thought it sucked.

And Rise of Skywalker is eliciting a lot of the same reactions. Here are my reactions to the last episode of the saga: (If you haven’t watched it yet stop here, bookmark this article, and come back when you have. Because spoilers).

The Good

So, here are the things I most enjoyed:

  1. The delightful chemistry between Finn and Poe. John Boyega is an excellent actor and while I’ve never been as impressed with Isaac, he carried his side well.
  2. The cavalry charge. On a star destroyer. One of the most iconically Star Wars moments of the film. The world has a long history of riding beasts showing up alongside speeders and starships, but this? This was just plain awesome.
  3. Jannah. Jannah was just plain fun.
  4. Rey’s lightsaber. Pure fanservice, but… For those of us who know our lore, her ending up with a yellow lightsaber was so perfect…the color of the temple guardians and the color a red crystal goes if it is purified. (Did she somehow find Kylo’s cast aside lightsaber? Lightsabers seem to have a hait of not staying lost…)
  5. Lando Calrissian. Thank you, Billy Dee Williams, for being willing to come back and reprise your role.
  6. The fact that they got everyone who’s ever played a Jedi for the ancestral voices scene. Including the dead ones.
  7. The hug. When Rey comes off the ship at the end, and it seems like a setup for her to chose Poe or Finn…who have been clumsily romantic rivals…and she hugs both of them.

Overall, I did like the movie, although I do understand the haters. There was a lot of fanservice.

The Bad

And here are the things I disliked or would have done differently:

  1. The extended chase scenes in the early part of the movie were perhaps a little bit too extended.
  2. So, we’re going to introduce a woman solely to be Poe Dameron’s ex so people can’t say he’s gay any more? This is peak heteronormative cowardice that I’m blaming entirely on Disney execs (not Abrams, not the actors, but whoever higher up made the “Prove Poe’s straight now call.” Yes, I am mad about this. So, based off of some tweets he made, is Isaac. The entire “Give Poe a boyfriend” tweet made so much more sense. The only good part is how badly it is likely to backfire. Remember the hug? Now they’ve established that Poe is interested in women, suddenly I’m shipping the polycule. And I will be amazed if there isn’t a massive increase in Finn-Poe-Rey fics, because that hug was sooo not platonic. I’m thinking the actors, and possibly Abrams, took a few things into their own hands.
  3. The kiss between Rey and Ben/Kylo was just a nod to the shippers and supported an idea I personally dislike: Soulmates have to be sexual. No, no they don’t. I was happy with Ben/Kylo’s ending, just not the stupid unnecessary kiss.
  4. Poe being a spice runner, because there’s only one criminal background that heroes of the resistance are allowed to have. The skills he demonstrated made more sense for a different background: Professional thief. Which would have, I think, fit better. But no, he has to be Solo lite. Lazy characterization.

I may have more reactions after I analyze it more, but it’s been a few days so I’m pretty solid on my opinions. Anyone care to have a civil discussion about whether this movie worked for you or not?

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Freelance writer, freelance editor, novelist and short story writer. Jack of many trades.

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