My viewing of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with a teenager in tow. Who knew what we’d discover? Let’s check it out and what we learned.
Do any of you remember when your mom or grandma would watch Days of our Lives when you were a kid and they would bring Stefano back for the 27th time because he’s such an evil villain and you’d roll your eyes and laugh at grandma and insist that the writers had run out of original ideas?
Maybe it’s because I’m an old GenX-er who grew up in an era before cable TV and the 24-hour news cycle and social media and everything else, but I do remember those days and I most definitely did complain about the awful writing on that show. It should come as no surprise, knowing all this, that my first reaction to the first trailer of The Rise of Skywalker was to jump on Twitter and let Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams know about this eerie and not-so-positive parallel. They did not respond, regretfully.
But I tried to keep an open mind. I took my oldest son to The Rise of Skywalker as a reward for a great semester of schoolwork. At least I hoped it would be more reward than punishment. He seemed indifferent about the movie by the time we hit the parking lot after enduring that action-packed 2.5 hours, but I can’t say the same for myself.
The opening scrawl was enough to know what we were in for, but I suppressed the groans or out of place laughter. How can you bring back a character like Palpatine without any explanation beyond some allusion to a sinister message he broadcast to the galaxy, which you will never hear unless you are 14 years old and addicted to Fortnite?
Yes, Disney really went all out on this particular plot line. They broadcast Palpatine’s message via the popular video game because, well, I don’t know. I can’t quite wrap my brain around the “why.” I expect that very few can, aside from the obvious “there was money in it” line of thinking.
But I’m meandering around the truth of this film. Heck, I’ve probably used up all the space I’ve been granted for this review and I’ve barely talked about the movie. Is that a bad thing? For the film writer’s sake and the producer and everyone else involved, probably not.
Okay, focus. Use your words. You can do this.
Apparently Palpatine is back and he was controlling Snoke and made him with some weird clone device that he hid on a planet called Exegol. The Emperor’s eyes are milky. Bad cataracts. You’d think his force powers would be enough that he could avoid that, but I suppose age wins out in the end, even over evil Sith lords. But yes. Milky eyes, no real explanation of how he survived or why he’s hiding out here of all places and Kylo Ren finds him by going on a video game quest to get a pyramid-shaped thingy that will point him to the Emperor’s hideout.
Finn and Poe and Chewy and R2 and 3PO and BB8 all go on their own video game quest looking for the same pyramid thingy. Rey apparently trains under Jedi Master Leia in a jungle and then joins her friends in the hunt. They encounter Lando, which is great. Everyone loves Lando. But before we can learn much about what he’s been up to, the adventure gets crazy and there are storm troopers chasing them and Rey leads them into some caves to hide and then she heals a snake.
That’s right, friends. Rey’s force powers include the ability to heal. Would have been nice to know that about 700 times in the previous movies, but whatever. Now we know. She heals a snake, and then they end up in a desert where she confronts Kylo in some tug-of-war force standoff and they battle for control of a ship that Chewy is on and BAM. Rey has force lightning. She blows up Chewy.
I was almost distraught but looked to my left at my oldest and muttered “they’re not going to kill Chewy. They aren’t brave enough to do that.”
He nodded back at me with the understanding all 15-year-olds have, the understanding that he is much smarter than me and that his agreement should be extremely meaningful to me. I nodded and attempted to show him my own appreciation for his nod…
Anyway, Chewy’s death lasts less time than it took for you to read about my 15-year-old nodding at me. Turns out he was on a different ship. I didn’t see the second ship but I wasn’t watching for it so who knows? Maybe it was there. Whew. We wouldn’t want any heart-wrenching consequences in this final installment of the Skywalker saga.
Then 3PO needs his brain erased so that he can translate “Sith,” which is probably the dumbest thing of all time aside from Anakin freaking out over Padme dying in childbirth.
I’m sorry. I mean it. I am very sorry. But I have to do this. Just a paragraph. I’ll be quick.
Okay — remember in Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin has a terrible dream that Padme dies in childbirth? Yeah. Do you remember when she said, “Oh, Ani, don’t stress, we’ll just schedule a C-section” and he stopped worrying and the galaxy was safe from his rage and confusion?
Right. Me neither. In a galaxy where living beings have mastered the ability to travel at faster than light speed, nobody bothers to suggest to Ani that his wife has a C-section to prevent complications while giving birth. I can’t figure it out but I expect I can write another article about this particular situation so that we can get back on track.
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Okay. Rey fake kills Chewy. Then 3PO can’t translate “Sith” for no good reason AT ALL. They erase him but don’t worry, R2 brings him back at the end because nobody can die except for Kylo. Did I mention there were spoilers in this review?
So Kylo tells Rey through their force dyad communication (yea, a force dyad is a thing, apparently), that she is a Palpatine.
Remember how you thought it was possible anyone could be special at the end of The Last Jedi? Yeah, that’s not true. You have to be a force Blue Blood or you don’t have a chance.
Anyway, Rey is upset about being a Palpatine for approximately 30 seconds, then she finds Kylo by going to a moon where the second Death Star crashed and looking at a knife transposed against the horizon. Very lucky to end up in that spot at that time to use that particular knife… If there is one thing I have learned from the sequel trilogy, it is that Rey is very powerful and very lucky.
So she fights Kylo and then Leia does some force thing where she says “Ben” and Kylo hears her and Rey stabs him in the heart and then Leia dies for some reason and then Kylo is dying but Rey saves him with her Force Heal Powers.
Then they go to wherever the emperor is. Exegol. He gives them some line of BS about how he is all the Sith and if Rey kills him he will go into her and become a woman, which has been his goal forevermore. Something like that.
But Rey isn’t so gullible as Anakin was all those many years ago, and the says she is all the Jedi, and then Palpatine force lightnings everything. All the ships. Her. Kylo. All of it. It makes you wonder why Palpatine ever built a death star or anything else when he could just force lightning an entire fleet.
But for some reason he gets bored with that before everyone dies. Lando shows up in the Falcon and says “yeehaw” and then they kill all the imperial ships. It’s amazing. Lots of shooting and yelling.
Rey fights the emperor. He tries to zap her with force lightning but she’s too smart. Have you noticed how Rey is never really in danger of anything ever? Like, you never believe she could die because she’s that powerful. And lucky. She’s very lucky. Anyway, she blocks the force lightning with a couple of lightsabers and cooks the emperor.
Then she dies. We don’t know why. It’s not like she was stabbed or something. But Kylo crawls out of a hole and does the force heal because apparently he can do it too. So she comes back to life and they kiss, but then he dies, but Rey doesn’t do the force heal because, like, haha, got you, Kylo!
After all of this, Rey goes back to Uncle Owen’s moisture farm on Tatooine and when someone approaches and asks her last name, she tells them “Skywalker.”
I really struggled with this part as she seemed to know Luke for all of the 6 hours it took for the slow-motion space ship chase to play out in The Last Jedi, and she knew Leia as an Organa, and if she was close to any of the old characters it would have been Han. So I thought about it and then on the way home I asked my 15-year-old what he thought and he answered rather shortly and matter of factly. He was obviously put out to be interrupted from playing a shooter game on his phone.
“Duh, Dad,” he said. “They needed it so the title of the movie would make sense.”
Duh, Dad, indeed. Perhaps, when we were all 15 years old, we really did know more than the adults around us.