Film Review: Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker SPOILER FREE

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Here we are, the “Avengers Endgame” to the series that formed the childhood of billions of kids from the 70’s and 80’s.  But here’s something to ponder on as you read this review on the toilet at work (that’s right, your companies should pay YOU to poop):  After starting my new podcast, “Gutting the Sacred Cow” (If you like my reviews and standup comedy, enjoy other comedians coming onto the show and arguing why some of the most beloved, successful, or acclaimed films stink or are overrated.  Shameless plug over.   GTSC link on iTunes )  I’ve had to re-watch the latest Star Wars films and boy, this latest trilogy thus far is failing in the rewatchability department. The Force Awakens is like a watery lobster bisque with 4 big chunks of lobster but no real substance or base.  And the Last Jedi, wow.  Was I wrong when I wrote my initial review.  Man, that film has tons of faults compounded with a bunch of hard choices that had better pay off in 9.  Do they pay off? Well, see below and of course, no spoilers.  But before you do, go google Adam Driver as a Marine.  Kevin Pollak said his face looks like a cab with the doors open.  Hilarious.

JJ Abrams back at the director’s helm after Rian Johnson sent Last Jedi to the bottom of the discount DVD bin.  BTW, hearing the opening music and seeing the opening scroll really hit me as this is (for now) the END of the Skywalker story.  Also, it’s the last time we’ll hear anything new from John Williams as this was his final film.  And this man is without question the GREATEST film composer to have ever lived.  He’s on Mt Rushmore in the George Washington slot, zero debate allowed.

Kylo Ren finds his way to the Emperor; yes, that Emperor we loved from Return of the Jedi, and is told he has to kill Rey.  Now, let’s stop here.  Do we learn how in the living fuck he survived being thrown down a reactor AND THEN EXPLODING IN THE DEATH STAR?  We do not.  Which is problem number one for me, a BIG ONE.  How are we going to skate over one of the BEST villains in film history just magically reappears on a Sith planet that reminds me of the final battle in the last Matrix film?  BTW, a hidden planet of Sith?  Remember the rule of Sith?  There are only 2 at all times; no more, no less.  So less than 10 minutes, we’re pissing all over rules and skating past premises that need REAL explanation.  BTW, there are 2 sentences that mention the recently departed, Snoke.  Just two.  I’ll let that simmer with you for a few minutes.  How about some good news? Adam Driver thankfully puts his Kylo Ren back together so we don’t see his face as much in this film.

Rey has been training and became insanely strong in the Force, almost Jedi Knight status.  The Rebels are still a small band lead by CGI’ed Princess Leia.  Apparently, they had some unused footage of Carrie Fisher from Last Jedi and why not squeeze in a few scenes with her in the final chapter.  Rey and Kylo Ren continue to FaceTime via the Force as he taunts her with the knowledge of her parents and her lineage.  Their interactions are always good as he’s continuing to enlist her to join him and become part of the Dark Side.

My next complaint is when the both find their way to the Death Star ruins where Rey seeks out a tracker to find the planet of the Sith.  They battle it out (relax, you see them doing this in trailer where they’re soaking wet) and at the end of the battle, there’s a REAL problem with the result.  Not spoiling it but I completely disagreed with it.  I even leaned over to my buddy and said, “Nope.  But we know how this will play out later.”

There are a couple of surprises and appearances that are enjoyable but this film is mostly disjointed.  Too many new characters are introduced but I wish they spent the screen time interacting more with the established ones AND giving a modicum of backstory.  And DEFNINTELY not enough of Lando Calrissian!  We dig BDW and his Colt 45 million dollar smile out of retirement to have him in 3 or 4 scenes?  No thank you, I demand more of him; especially when original characters like Han Solo and Luke are dead.  Instead, we’re dealing with Poe and Finn who we never get to REALLY embrace and form a bond with.  We learn a LITTLE more about Poe as the crew goes to a planet to get a droid to hack 3PO’s memory and Poe runs into a former smuggler/lover.  But not enough where he or Finn makes anyone’s favorite character list.  Again, this recent trilogy did a watered down version from all aspects while trying to replicate the original.  With the exception of Rey and Ren, no characters have any layers.

Lastly and without getting into gory details, I hated the ending.  INSANELY anti-climactic.  The final battle had ZERO pathos like Return of the Jedi did.  You FELT for Luke as he learned Vader wanted to turn his sister.  You FELT for Vader as he weighed his decision to either serve the Emperor or save his son.  And that lightsaber battle in Jedi was just simply amazing.  This was much shorter than I felt was deserved.  And of course, the question still burns, what happened with Rey and her parents on Jakku?  After the reveal, I again turned to my buddy after the reveal and said, “Insanely fucking lazy.”  I was floored it came down to this decision because there is/was ZERO groundwork laid for this choice.  Sorry, here’s one spoiler, the Rebels win.  Like you didn’t think that was going to happen.  The final celebration scene felt muted.  I’ve seen more emotion from a night manager at Burger King closing up at 3 AM.  No one was REALLY stoked that the Empire was finally gone.  You see TWO Ewoks celebrating at the end of this one!  The ENTIRE VILLAGE ON ENDOR was hooping and hollering.  Statues fell when the Empire did.  Ships shooting off fireworks.  People dancing in the street.  Pure jubilation.  This felt like the last day of school instead of winning a massive battle.  Tons of unanswered questions or poor answers litter this film and that just doesn’t sit well with me.  But I’ll end this review with some good news: MUCH LESS ROSE than the Last Jedi.  She’s the 2nd worst character in the Star Wars Universe next to Jar Jar.

I definitely to rewatch this to fully digest everything but in short, I was very disappointed.  The critics were wrong, the people are right.

4.5 out of 10

Current order of Star Wars films (subject to change after I rewatch TROS)

  1. Star Wars
  2. Return of the Jedi
  3. Empire Strikes Back
  4. Rogue 1
  5. Revenge of the Sith-Severely underrated, people lump it in with the first 2 sequels when it should be separated from them.
  6. Attack of the Clones- the 2nd half is solid.  Whiny Anakin first half, awful.
  7. Force Awakens
  8. Rise of Skywalker
  9. Solo
  10. Last Jedi
  11. Phantom Menace-You take out Darth Maul and the final lightsaber scene, this film is a 2/10.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Review (No spoilers)

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Well kids, it’s Christmas time for us all…unless you’re Jewish.  The new Star Wars film is here which is something EVERYONE can celebrate.  The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.  What do I think?  Glad you asked your favorite film snob cause I have many thoughts.  And before we get started, here’s my rankings of the films so you know my preferences:

4, 6, 5, Rogue One, 3, 7, 2, ——————1.  That’s how bad Phantom Menace is, lower than Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad.  Hell, I’ll put the punching bag known as the Star Wars Christmas above PM.

We start TLJ off in a dark time, the Resistance is getting decimated by the First Order (a La Empire Strikes back but don’t worry, this film isn’t an Empire reboot as Ep 7 was like Ep 4).  Rey is about to meet Skywalker and learn about the path of a Jedi.  And of course, cry baby Kylo Ren is back being tormented by Supreme Leader Snoke how he’s not much of a man with that mask.  Ren then destroys the mask and then destroying my wishes that he’d keep the mask on so we don’t have to look at his stupid face.  And they say bullying is bad, bullying gets shit done…to a degree.  Good news in this installment, not many emo temper tantrums out of Ren!

The Resistance, led by Princess Leia (yes, you’ll spend most of the time guessing if and where she gets killed off to coincide with Carrie Fisher’s death) needs a codebreaker to crack the code of being able to track a ship through hyperspace.  Speaking of Carrie Fisher, they must have paid her for the Force Awakens in gallons of gin and Virginia Slims.  Her voice sounds huskier than mine.  Folks, it’s been a LONNGGGG time since she wore that metal bikini.  But I did enjoy her having a larger role here than she did in Episode 7.  Anyway, the ships’ shields can only hold up for so long as Finn and new character Jane escape to find said codebreaker.  I’ll tell you now that you’ll find Jane ALMOST as annoying as Jar Jar Binks.  Not a fan.  She is going down in the Star Wars annals as one of the most unlikeable characters, I’ll guarantee it.  And there’s a whole 15-20 minutes with Finn and her that on their search for the codebreaker that could’ve been cut.  Meanwhile, Rey attempts to learn why Skywalker became a hermit and no longer a teacher of the Jedi.  We also learn more why Kylo Ren made the choice to commit to the dark side and I found it to be a nice twist.  

Chewbacca doesn’t get much screen time in this one and you’ll find yourself saying, “Where the hell is Chewie?”  There’s also very little from R2 and some of 3PO.  BB-8 does get a solid haul of screen time and he’s enjoyable as usual.   BUT, you also get a couple of cameos, including one great surprise that will easily put a smile on your face.

I will say that this film is a lot funnier than most BUT after the halfway point, I felt that the jokes were becoming a bit overkill.  I don’t need comedic lines like Caddyshack in a Star Wars film.  I just want good story and good action.  By all means, sprinkle a few throughout the film.  But this has a LOT more; maybe more than all of the films combined.  So that was a bit off-putting.  

Let’s also talk about Daisy Ridley playing Rey.  She’s fantastic and for everyone trying to shove female heroes down our throats for the sake of, take note of this.  You know why this works?  Cause it’s natural.  You BELIEVE that this girl can be a Jedi knight and enjoy her journey.  But when Hollywood forces all female reboots or DEMANDS we have more female superheroes just to check a box, people seize up.  When you feel like you’re trying to be sold something, you freeze up and reject it, right?  Well Rey doesn’t do go that route, bravo!

The action scenes are great.  Dogfight scenes are rock solid and the lightsaber battles?  Top notch, top notch!  

Without delving too deeply into the story, a lot of shit goes down in this film that you would’ve expected to happen in the final film.  TLJ will definitely throw you a few unexpected curveballs, some pleasant and even an, “Ahhh shit” moment.  A lot of people were worried that this would be too much like Empire and there are a couple of moments that there are similarities but overall, it’s quite independent of Ep 5.  

This film does drag a BIT; as I said above, there’s easily 15-20 minutes that can be cut.  And you’ll wonder during the final battle why it’s going on so long but it does pay off nicely.  

And now, the verdict.  I really liked this film and I think it’s better than Force Awakens.  Why?  Because it wasn’t a “greatest hits” like Ep 7 was.  It’s dark.  And they do answer some questions but you’ll wish they expounded on more of the story.  The stage was set relatively well and I’m hoping they just close the loops nicely with episode 9.  

I give it a 7.5 out of 10 and in the rankings, I put it after Rogue One and before Force Awakens.