The Rise Of Skywalker: Thoroughly enjoyable bit of nonsense

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I’ve never personally been that enamoured with iconic fantasy franchises. As a child, I watched the original ’77-’83 Star Wars trilogy with my dad quite a few times, and it was exhilarating back then, but as I grew older, my interest in space operas, sword & sorcery films and general high fantasy simply wained. Even in 2015, my response to the release of The Force Awakens was more or less ‘Ah. Well, that’s nice I suppose’. It’s certainly not the case that I think Star Wars (except maybe the prequel trilogy), LOTR or the Marvel adaptations are poor, they’re well-acted and paced, wonderfully photographed, choreographed and all of the other ‘graphed’ that you can think of, I’m just not very interested in them.

That being said, I predominantly come away with a big grin and feeling thoroughly entertained whenever I venture to see the big new instalment of something, which is of paramount importance to your thoughts being provoked, as far as I’m concerned. You need those bombastic, good-evil dichotomy madhouse films with just enough balance of saccharine pathos and high-octane fight sequences to get your blood pumping and make you feel warm and fuzzy before you go back to your usual diet of bleak crime thrillers and miserable art-house films.

After the controversial and divisive fan reception of The Last Jedi, Disney has attempted to patch up the elements that caused such upset by thrusting Rey, Poe Dameron and Finn into a brand new adventurous fight in which, as per usual, the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance. They’ve accomplished this via narrative shoehorning that is largely bereft of sense when placed against the storyline development of other entries, and as I cannot abide spoilers, it’s a little difficult to write this appraisal. What I did find charming is that it does come across as a benevolent attempt to un-butcher Star Wars in the manner that its legion of fans felt they hadand it is chock full of triumphant fist-in-the-air sequences and tense lightsaber duels, a particular highlight of the latter taking place on the ocean-bound ruins of the second Death Star.

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My favourite element of the film was undoubtedly Kylo Ren, manifested as usual with ominous menace by Adam Driver. Even though this trilogy has essentially just done the first three all over again with some tweaking, and Ren is a Darth Vader counterpart, the film is mostly on fire when he illuminates the screen with morose intimidation. His bond with Rey and character complexity going off in crazy new directions, he is certainly the most interesting character in conjunction to being the most exciting.

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It also goes without saying that Chewie, Leia, R2 & C-3PO are all on top form, as usual, the latter two bolstered by a few other mad bit characters for comic relief. There are several moments throughout the movie where a few of the most beloved good guys of the franchise are placed in high-stakes, potentially devastating situations that don’t really come of anything, which is bound to frustrate and puzzle a lot of people, but it actually had me chortling at just how irrationally batshit the attempt to appease the fans is here.

So yes, overall it doesn’t really make any sense in canon, has some choice Deus Ex Machina sequences that are mostly there as filler, and doesn’t end up resolving much of anything. But I wasn’t bothered, I actually had great fun watching it, as I have done with any Star Wars film bar Phantom Menace, Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith, all of which I found to be unforgivably dreadful because they were boring as fuck. I know I will sound like a snob, but it is difficult for me to get frustrated by narrative inconsistency and improbable feats of heroism in this universe, because I find it difficult to take the films seriously in the first place. That’s the beauty of subjectivity though, many SW nuts may very well hate, or at least be indifferent to, The Godfather trilogy (and they’d be correct on number three, anyway). For me, this recent barrage in the Skywalker Saga has proved to be just as fun as when I watched them as a nipper, and that’s all I wanted it to do in the first place. If you’re a die-hard fan, you’ll probably hate it, and I can understand that, it appears to have left a bad taste in the mouth of most critics and audiences alike, but I’d happily watch it again. Probably won’t purchase the Blu-Ray, but I’d watch it again.

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