The Rise Of Skywalker, the final chapter in the original Star Wars storyline, is upon us, and while the reviews have been mixed, Billy Dee Williams is worth the price of admission alone.
When the critics reviews for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker came out on Tuesday, I wasn’t surprised. Of course they were going to bash it. Of course it wasn’t going to be good enough. Because how do you wrap up the most epic storyline in history satisfactorily? You just don’t. So seeing Forbes call it “the worst Star Wars movie ever,” so on and so forth, it was a bummer, but we should have expected that.
What the movie has been hailed for is the plethora of cameos. Either on screen or just the voices in certain character’s heads, you won’t be left craving for a connection to whatever Star Wars film happened to be your favorite. And even if cameos aren’t your thing (they aren’t mine either), then consider the part that Billy Dee Williams played in the movie.
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Williams remained the last of the major characters from the original trilogy not to make his return for the final trilogy. (Unless you count Boba Fett, which I certainly don’t.) Even though we’d just seen Danny Glover reprise the role in Solo, Billy Dee Williams was the original, and it was overdue that he got his cameo.
Only this wasn’t your typical cameo. Usually a cameo involves a quick hello, a nod, perhaps a wave, then exit stage right. Not Billy Dee Williams; not Lando Calrissian.
Without wanting to give anything away, let’s leave the plot points at simply saying that Calrissian plays a huge role in the fate of the final rebellion. And that’s all I really want to say about that anyway, because what I really want to talk about is how Billy Dee Williams own the screen every time he appears. And I mean owned it.
Funny enough, Williams spoke at the premier about how Lando Calrissian never really left him, and I could not have been any more convinced. It felt like he’d been in character for the past forty years. The smooth smuggler personality shone through in every smile and there was the silky charm on every laugh.
While we could see the aging on Han and Leia and Luke, and we could see it on Lando too, we never felt it with Lando. He felt like the same old Lando.
And the filmmakers couldn’t have framed it better either. Of course we all knew Billy Dee Williams would be making an appearance, but it was set up like an ordinary cameo. Such that I had given up waiting to see him because the story was moving along just fine without him. When he finally did show up, I had forgotten that I was even looking for him and they managed to conceal it well enough that when he’s standing there on screen, I could almost feel my breath catching in my throat.
He was back!
Okay, maybe that sounds cheesy, but I just got done with a midnight showing and it’s 3:25 AM.
Seriously though. Nostalgia works. It will always work. But this wasn’t just ordinary nostalgia. And I think the filmmakers realized that too with the role that he played in the grand scheme. He may not have gotten the most screen time, but every moment that he got, he perfected. He was the truest character of all the old gang and I’d put him up against the new gang too, if only we’d seen him more.
The only thing that bums me out is that the rumored Disney+ series centered on Lando will be focused on Danny Glover’s rendition and not Billy Dee Williams’. But if I were Disney and I’d just seen that movie? I might kick something else up as well.
Besides, they did leave the door open for something at the end of that movie. And that something would have to involve Billy Dee Williams. At least I’d damn well hope so.