Review: Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise Of Skywalker; A Smarter Mess Than It’s Being Given Credit For [2019] (Spoiler-Free)

Cᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ Iɴᴅᴇx —

a guest(…?) review by Darth Magpie (a.k.a.: the Extinction Entity).
(It’s been sooo long since I last reviewed a film that this feels… I dunno. Weird.)
And sorry I’m so late folks. Just been totally Snoke-faced by all this travelling.

There’s something I should tell you up-front. While this is a spoiler-free review… there are a few things I want to talk about how well this film kept its own secrets (and a tiiiny bit about another film). I’ll bunch them all up together at the end and I’ll warn you when they’re about to show up. So you don’t have to worry one teensy little bit.

Anyway! Let’s get all our things together and jump right into it!
Let’s see… I got my Porg-plush, got my dark side helmet, got my brains in my head (I think…), and let’s not forget the most important thing I’m going to be using in this review…

———|–() zwing! muhuhuhuhu!

Right! Knights of Magpie… IGNITE!

Star Wars Episode IX:
The Rise of Skywalker

SPOILER LEVELS at MINIMAL

Two years ago, Star Wars: Episode VIII came out and upset the whole Star Wars universe. I get that they were trying to take risks and everything, but just like I said in my review, those risks didn’t really hit the mark. Because of all that, Episode IX was always going to have a tough job closing up this story. It’s like VIII didn’t seem to care that there was whole other film left in the trilogy and just went and did its own thing. And that’s not what you want from the middle part of a trilogy (I’ll leave The Dark Knight out of this).

And that’s why Episode IX picks up with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) slicing his way through a bunch of oversized teddy bears. It’s a pretty kick-ass scene and I was all excited that at least this film would have at least 3500% the lightsaber action Episode VIII did. And yeah, I don’t think putting all of your hearts at ease is spoiling anything… this film has a bunch of lightsaber fights. And they’re pretty good too! There’s nothing that compares to the Duel on Mustafar, but the lightsaber action in TROS is the best we’ve had since that fight. One thing leads to another and we get told that…

“The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be… unnatural.”

And you know what that means…

Yup! The film doesn’t hang around at all. It straight up slaps you in the face with Papa Palpy (Ian McDiarmid)! He’s older, deader and he’s missing some bits here and there. And somehow in the years since he got chucked down a space-drainpipe, he’s been a very busy corpse!

But I have a problem… all of this happens in like five minutes. And that’s a chronic problem with this film. This film is trying to mash so much in that it gets a little annoying. It’s not exactly too much, but it’s a lot more than you’d expect from a Star Wars film.

While watching the film, I also started getting a sense that if this film was paced out (keeping the story of this film as it is) and split up into three nicely-thought standalone episodes, this would have been a much better sequel trilogy. That opening five minutes I mentioned? Hell, that could have been its own film on its own. Start out with the Force bond already being there because… space-magic, and have the big reveal be the climax of the film. They could’ve done that without all the nonsense of having Luke (Mark Hamill) die halfway through the trilogy.

But I digress…

Yeah, the film is packed up to the gills with story bits and even looks a little overcrowded here and there, but it’s a really pretty film at the same time. There’s the usual Star Wars quirkiness and we do get a few callbacks to older characters here and there, but there’s something about it that also feels a little bit… off. While I like the fact that it feels a little off in this way, it might not really be for everybody. Star Wars has always had a bit of body horror now and again (Vader, Papa Palpy, General Asthma), but this one is going straight for horror in a lot of places. It’s the closest Star Wars has come to actually trying to scare you since Anakin‘s (Hayden Christensen) Vader-isation. There’s not too much of it, and it really makes some of the later fight scenes much more awesome, but I don’t think all the kids are going to be comfortable with what happens here.

And just like with TLJ, TROS starts giving out new Force abilities to everyone. One of them, which is kinda important to a big fight scene near the end, had me loling my feathers off because the only way it would have worked is if everyone around the people doing it was blind. It led to a really awesome fight scene though, so I guess I can’t really complain.

There’s the usual space battles and they look really nice even though they do get a little overcrowded like I mentioned. There are some… strange things that happen which push the boundaries even for a Star Wars film but I can ignore those. A few characters go missing completely and a few old faces come back. The Force works in more mysterious ways than we’ve seen before and all the elements are in here, but there’s something I can’t really get out of my head that’s bothering me about this film.

The Original Trilogy was about Luke overthrowing the Empire (= Papa Palpy) and redeeming his old man. The Prequel Trilogy was about Anakin falling to the Dark Side and becoming Daddy Vader. Together, the two stories were about Anakin eventually doing what he was supposed to as the Chosen One and taking the Dark Side down from within, even though Papa Palpy messed with the prophecy. All good. It’s like you could tie a neat little bow on top of this whole thing and call it a Christmas present. And it should only work if Palpatine stays… y’know, DEAD. Right?
Welp! That’s where this film gets clever.

Bringing Papa Palpy back sounds like such a huge disservice to the films that came before Episode VII that people everywhere seem to be blowing brain cells over it. And no. I’m not going to confirm or deny if Rey (Daisy Ridley) has a reason to be here or not, but what does seem to be bothering everyone is how unearned her place in the story still feels for her to be who she is. And I would’ve agreed with those people, but this film turns all of that on its head with one little detail.

It’s a detail that needs you to think about the bigger meaning behind it. And when you get to it, you’ll realise how much TROS (not TFA or TLJ) fits into the Star Wars universe.

So Rey actually loses a fight in TROS, but it’s not so important because she only loses once. We all know that Rey is special and super-powerful, and yeah she is. Hell, I’m even going to go ahead and say that she’s on par with Anakin on Mustafar when it comes to how strong she is in the Force. “But remember the amount of struggle Anakin had to go through to earn his place?” I hear people asking. Well, there were more Force users back in his day for him to compete with and get chopped up by. But here’s a question… even though Anakin was trained and everything. What was Anakin by default?

TROS retcons a lot of the lore TFA and TLJ introduced. The Force isn’t balancing squat. If this was foreshadowed from the beginning, I would’ve said that we’d all been lied to very carefully, but it’s pretty obvious TROS was a last-minute scramble. And even though it might seem to come from out of left field, there’s a reason why the ending plays out the way it does. It’s not exactly perfect, but it’s still poetic (kinda) like Star Wars should be. It’s just bogged down by being the only film in this trilogy that tries to actually tell a Star Wars story which goes somewhere.

But even if I think it works, I’m still going to say it’s not done well. There are some really stupid scenes near the end of the film and the lines are so cheesy that I kept rolling my eyes every few seconds. I guess they were going for the whole “it looks good, so maybe they’ll ignore the dialogue” or something, and they didn’t really get away with it.

The film is a mess, but like I said before, this trilogy would have been so much better if they’d just binned the other two films and cut this one up into three.

The performances are pretty good and oh Baby Yodas… Adam Driver is a very delicious fishie in this one. There are a ton of voice cameos and a lot of attempts to bring the whole series around full-circle. I’m obviously not going to get into details, but there’s nothing bad far as the acting goes. The film looks nice and sounds amazing (which Star Wars film doesn’t?!) and I’m giving a good few feathers up for all those things. I’ll ignore the cheese for now.

I won’t deny that there’s still a lot of disservice done to some of the characters from the earlier films. And again, that’s mostly the fault of what came before this film. Leia (Carrie Fisher, RIP) gets a great send off, though.

In a funny way, though, this film basically tells us that the heroes were basically just along for the ride and that the story’s about something very different. I don’t think I’ll actually do a spoiler review of the film, either. Instead, what I’ll do is a defence of what TROS tried to do (and did) and why it’s not as “insulting” as so many fans are expecting it to be. It’s not like I think people won’t get it, but there’s a good chunk of folks out there who look like they’re going to dismiss this film anyway because of how insulting they think it is. I’ve long been upset with those parts of the fandom because of how much hate gets chucked around them, but I’ve always said that you have to take a film as it is. And while it tries to do wayyy too much and falls flat on its face trying to pace its story out, TROS has the right ideas at its heart.

This could’ve easily been one of the best Star Wars films, but fell short of the mark in a bunch of places. I’m not letting go of the idea that this film. This film right here. This should have been the trilogy.

The Rise of Skywalker is a great ending to all three trilogies, as dumb as it is sometimes (does Papa Palpy’s lightning come from his bladder?!), but it’s messed up because of its sister-films. Best film in the worst trilogy, but it’s probably going to go down as one of my favourite Star Wars films because of how it turned an old idea right on its head. I really headed into this one expecting JJ Abrams to add to my bucket like he did that one time, but he’s done a pretty great job here. The film really does try its best, but ends up getting confused at times. It gets confused by the baggage I keep mentioning, as well as the quirkiness Star Wars films have to have.

I’m going to go ahead and recommend The Rise of Skywalker to all of you. Just keep an open mind. Remember that The Force Awakens was a clone of A New Hope. Remember that The Last Jedi was trying to do something which didn’t really care about any of the other films. And because of them, The Rise of Skywalker was always going to have a hard time picking up the pieces. There’s a great idea in here, and that’s what makes it so good. Oh! And also remember that while the Force might work in mysterious ways, not everything in the franchise has to be without reason. Wink. Wink.

You’ll have to excuse me here. My Master wants some poor Jedi fools dead.

— Azure-Winged “Darth” Magpie up! Up! And Awayyy! *BONK!*


Final Ratings

THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 7.5/10


TENET and Disney’s Star Wars Security

I’ll make this quick since I’m starting on my proper review/explanation of what happened in TROS. But the TENET prologue was amazing. 10/10.

Also, to the Star Wars people at Disney:
I had spoilers thrown at me for The Rise of Skywalker every which way for the last few months. Some were LOL. Some were MEH. Some made me wanna…

———|–(_) zwing! you brought this upon yourself

While I won’t name names (the guy from TLJ is still gone), you people need to really sort this out. This is embarrassing. I knew the general idea of the whole plot (one out of three) at least a month and a half ago. I usually LOL these away or just generally ignore them, but then I found whole message boards with a lot of similar content. Get your house sorted out Uncle Mouse.


Here’s one of the official posters:

2 thoughts on “Review: Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise Of Skywalker; A Smarter Mess Than It’s Being Given Credit For [2019] (Spoiler-Free)”

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