a review by the Swan(!)
(curated by the Crow.) —|–(ಠ◡ಠ✿) zwing! curated by Darth Magpie!
I don’t know what this kid’s on today, but he’s spittin’ FIRE! (I’ve trained him well…)
Read up until the end for a special announcement!
Greetings, fellow birds. Hope you’re having a restful Christmas! It’s the Swan(!) here for another review! Being a Star Wars fan, it was inevitable that I’d be reviewing the new movie. I’ve seen it twice already and I have to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a lot of things. Of course, it’s not without its flaws and I’ll explain more about this within the review. But, if The Last Jedi was a film that divided the fans, I’m sure this will be the film to win them over. Well, some of them anyways. So, without further ado, let’s switch on our lightsabers, strap in and prepare to make the jump to hyperspace… again.
Star Wars Episode IX
The Rise of Skywalker
DISCLAIMER: The Swan(!) would like to inform everyone that this review will contain moderate spoilers, as he feels that the review may not make sense without them.
Darth Magpie: Or more properly…
SPOILER LEVELS at MODERATE
Straight after the opening crawl, we’re thrown right into the chaos of the fight between The Resistance and The First Order. We’re also informed that the big bad of the whole series Emperor Palpatine aka Darth Sidious a.k.a. zappy granddad (Ian MacDiarmid) is back and has threatened the galaxy with a worldwide message promising revenge for his downfall at the Battle of Endor. It’s at this point we’re sent to Mustafar where Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is hunting down Palpatine, determined to destroy him as he’s a threat to his power. Kylo and the stormtroopers are seen cutting down minions left right and centre in order to obtain a Sith Wayfinder (which resembles a map to finding Palpatine). I do like the callbacks to certain planets, as it’s a cool way of linking all of the nine movies together. Furthermore, the Swan(!) is going into full nerd mode here as he explains the battleground for this scene takes place around the ruins of Vader’s castle (which we saw in Rogue One) and is also the place where we’ve witnessed the “birth” of Darth Vader himself.
Sure enough, Kylo obtains a Wayfinder and tracks Palpatine to the planet of Exegol. We find out that Palpatine somehow survived his fall down the reactor shaft (my guess is that he wasn’t bullshiting about his master teaching him to create life etc.), he created Kylo’s master Snoke (was hoping that he’d be a reincarnation of Plageuis, but hey) and thus, was pulling the strings on Kylo’s fall towards the dark side. Kylo vows to kill Palpatine, but is promised the opportunity of ruling over a new Empire called The Final Order. As always, there’s a catch. Palpatine orders Kylo to kill Rey (Daisy Ridley) and end the Jedi for good.
Meanwhile, Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) receive information from a spy (Mark Hamill plays this dude apparently) that Palpatine is on Exegol and rush back to their companions to pass the info on. We then cut to Rey, who is continuing her Jedi training under the watchful eye of a CGI’d General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher RIP). Unfortunately, Rey’s training keeps getting interrupted by Kylo’s Force bond. I do like the little flashbacks ranging from Rey’s family to Kylo to hermit Luke (Mark Hamill) and to Han Solo (Harrison Ford)’s death. Anyways, the good guys get together and are informed of Palpatine’s return. Rey finds out from the Jedi texts that in order to find Palpatine, they need to look for a Sith Wayfinder. This leads Rey, Poe, Finn, Chewie and C3PO (Anthony Daniels) to a planet called Pasaana.
The good guys go to Pasaana and are greeted by an old friend Lando Carlrissian (Billy Dee Williams) who tells them where they can find the Sith Wayfinder. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren has regrouped with the other Knights of Ren (finally, we see them!) and through yet another Force bond with Rey, chases after the good guys. The heroes come across a dead Sith assassin Ochi and his belongings after being sucked through quicksand. Yeah, that happens apparently. Anyways, they find Ochi’s Sith dagger that has some Sith text inscribed on it and after initially asking C-3P0 to interpret this, they find out he can’t as his programming forbids him to do so. This dagger also becomes another plot point as it’s relates specifically to Rey’s past and Palpatine himself. We get what I call my first eye-rolling “Really, bitch?” moment of the movie where the heroes are confronted by an alien. Fortunately, it doesn’t want to kill anyone as its in pain and it’s up to Rey to use her Force powers to heal it. Now, I know the Jedi and Sith have some telekinetic powers more so than your average human, but I strongly dislike the notion that they are super-human. I mean, Christ! This ain’t Marvel! This Force power was also seen in one of the Mandalorian episodes. It’s a decent Star Wars show, and the Swan(!) recommends that you give it a watch 😀
Anyways, I digress. Chewie gets captured by the First Order and Rey has a mini showdown between Kylo and his Tie Fighter. Rey attempts to rescue Chewie by using the Force to land the ship he’s on, but ends up destroying it. Another eye-rolling moment. The team then assumes that Chewie’s dead (Spoiler: He isn’t, but even I thought he was a goner at this point too) and Poe decides to go to a planet called Kijimi where they can extract the Sith text from C-3PO’s memory. They go to the planet, come across another good guy called Zorri Bliss (Kerri Russell), and with the help of their new tiny alien friend, they reprogramme C-3PO to tell the good guys that they can find the Sith Wayfinder on the Forest Moon of Endor. Wahey – Return of The Jedi callback. We also get a brief cameo from John Williams (who provides the soundtrack for most of the Star Wars movies) here. The heroes get attacked by the First Order again and they must skedaddle out of the planet. But not before we get another Force bond between Rey and Kylo. We pretty much get the whole Darth Vader “Join me” bollocks from Kylo as well as more information about Rey’s parentage. I won’t spoil much, but let’s just say that Rey and Palpatine have a connection with each other. To be honest, the Crow and I theorised this to be the case since 2016 and since this wipes out the “Rey is no-one” bollocks from the last movie, this turned out to be music to the Swan(!)’s ears.
So, the team manage to go onboard Kylo’s ship and rescue Chewie with the help of double-agent General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) who’s also side-lined as a minor character in this movie. I didn’t mind as I never really cared much for the character. Anyways, Hux is executed by a fellow First Order baddie General Pryde (Richard E Grant) while the heroes travel to Kef Bir to get the Sith Wayfinder. They find out that they Wayfinder is onboard the wrecked second Death Star (another Return of The Jedi callback!) and come across another ally Jannah (Naomi Ackie) who tell them that they need to wait until morning to get the Wayfinder. Rey can’t wait that long, so she travels to the Death Star to get it herself. On the way, she encounters a Sith version of herself (heh – okay) and manages to fight her off before getting the Wayfinder. Kylo finds Rey, leading to more of the samey dialogue (seriously, you guys fancy each other. Just kiss already, my god!) and this leads to an actual, proper lightsaber duel. Yep, you heard me correctly. After being fobbed off with some mediocre lightsaber shite in the last movie, we get a proper lightsaber duel between two Force users and it’s quite decent.
We then get intercuts of Leia reaching out to her son Kylo before she passes away and after Rey defeats Kylo (and heals him the same way she did to that alien from earlier), we get another cameo from Han Solo (Harrison Ford) who appears as Kylo’s memory and begs him to change his ways. It’s an emotional scene and Adam Driver really sells it as someone who’s very conflicted about where he stands between good and evil. A guilty Rey buggers off to Ach-To where she intends to exile herself. But not before she gets some good advice from the Force Ghost vision of Luke Skywalker. As opposed to the last movie, we get the Luke Skywalker we want. Someone who takes pride in doing the right thing and leading people on that path. At times, he comes off slightly goofy in a few scenes and I feel like I’m watching Mark Hamill in Star Wars as opposed to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. But anyways, it’s good to see the guy back. We also get a callback to Empire Strikes Back with the X-wing and this provides one of the examples of where I was referring to Mark Hamill and his goofiness.
The final piece of the action takes place on Exegol where Rey confronts the Emperor and the Resistance has its last stand against the First Order. The scenes themselves are quite compelling to watch and has that right balance of emotion/tension. I won’t spoil how the final battle concludes, but I think you can pretty much guess where this is going. The only thing I will say is that it somewhat plagiarises Avengers: Endgame, but that doesn’t take away the excitement and drama.
Overall, I found The Rise of Skywalker to be a decent watch and while The Last Jedi made a load of messes, I found this film cleaned it up. This would be largely due to a few of the character arcs surrounding Rey, Luke and Kylo and giving the fans a nice of nostalgia by providing nice call-backs to the eight movies gone before. The acting is on point as per usual with some strong performances from Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Ian MacDiarmid and John Boyega among others. Boyega’s character is given a little bit more to do here. Not much, but it’s better than how they treated him in the last two movies. I mentioned a bit about Adam Driver’s acting, but I’ll go further into here. His portrayal of Kylo Ren has been one of the most compelling watches throughout the Star Wars series and I like how he goes from creepy determined through his obsession with Rey to a vulnerable, yet a conflicted individual when he has second thoughts about Darth Vader 2.0. I called Kylo Ren/Ben Solo’s redemption arc way before this movie started and while watching it, I found it to be strangely inspiring as well as uplifting.
That brings me to another point. The Skywalker men throughout the series aren’t perfect. Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren (well – Ben Solo) are flawed people. They’re passionate, emotional and make huge mess-ups. But they realise they fucked up and they change. That’s one of the things that have caused me to be a fan of the series.
Other characters such as Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico are side-lined as minor characters in the movie, which I don’t really mind that much as they don’t really add much to the series in my opinion. The actors who play them do a good job, but I just felt very indifferent to the characters. The special effects of the movie are awesome as always and I always like seeing the appearances of the original characters such as Luke, Han, Leia, Lando etc. We also get some vocal cameo appearances from past Jedi/Sith in the prequel and cartoon spinoffs. The Swan(!) has already spoiled a fair bit, so you’ll have to watch the movie in order to find out who you hear.
Overall, I’d put The Rise of Skywalker as 3rd of my favourite Star Wars movies. The very last bit of the movie really irked me, but that didn’t stop me from relishing the fun I had watching this film. This brings the Swan(!) to providing a list of best to worst Star Wars movies in his own opinion.
Darth Magpie: My apprentice shall be well-advised to write up a right proper list someday…
1 – Return of The Jedi
2 – The Empire Strikes Back
3 – The Rise of Skywalker
4 – The Force Awakens/A New Hope (same movie)
5 – Rogue One
6 – Solo
7 – Revenge of The Sith
8 – The Phantom Menace
9 – The Last Jedi
10 – Attack of The Clones
So, that’s it. The Swan(!)’s probably going to get zonked tomorrow with his buddies. Maybe at the local with his fellow buddy The Crow. I might be back next year reviewing the upcoming Bond movie No Time to Die and the new Ghostbusters movie. Will let you know. Until then, peace out and the Force will be with you… always.
— Peace out!
Darth Magpie: My apprentice doesn’t get off that easy…
It was the Swan(!)’s birthday a few days ago. Everyone wish him a Happy Birthday! If everrbady love ich other the warld will be a bettar plece… a-ha!
THE SWAN(!): 7.5/10
Here’s the official poster: