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.

Review of Star Wars: Rogue One (No spoilers)

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As I have said before, I like to see the schedule of films coming out and I’ll circle the ones I highly anticipate.  Usually, there about 4 per year that I get excited for and this was one of them.  However, being that Rogue 1 isn’t part of the original story, I was a little less excited for this as I was for Episode 7 last year.  Spinoff of the original tend to suck (Scorpion King, This is 40, X-Men Wolverine films are awful, and those god awful American Pie straight to DVD films) so I was slightly hesitant.  I also read that this is the first Star Wars film that John Williams wasn’t doing the score for.  John Williams is as integral to these films (Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Jaws, the list goes on) as pepperoni is to pizza.

The story takes place after Episode 3, Revenge of the Sith, when Hayden Christiansen thankfully slides into the lava after Obi-Wan slices his legs off.  I wish Obi-Wan used the force to give Hayden better acting lessons.  Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, whose father (Madds Mikelsen) was the architect behind the Death Star.  Young Jyn is hidden for years by Saw Gerrara (Forrest Whittaker) as the Imperials have been looking for her to ensure her father’s cooperation in the completion of the Death Star.  Jyn is freed by the Rebellion and thus begins her mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.

The new characters are instantly likable and you feel something for them all.  K2SO is the robot who embraces the newest comedic role. You’ll see a bunch of familiar faces from previous films, even some restored by CGI as their younger selves from Star Wars.  Some characters may take you a second to recall but when you do, a smile will cross your face.  And of course, Darth Vader makes several appearances in the film.  And without spoiling anything, his final scene is bad-assery at its finest. One of my complaints are they take you to several planets/moons all over the galaxy but you won’t need to remember them later on. I wish they showed you the Emperor in some capacity but no luck.  This film flows beautifully while weaving a fantastic tale.  It’s almost sad as we know the fate for most of these characters being that we’ve seen the 7 previous films.  Director Gareth Edwards ensures it ends with a flawless segue for Star Wars, Episode 4.

People ask me how I rank this amongst the other films but I really need to see this again to take it in.  I’m still processing everything but rest assured, it’s damn good.  If I were to give an early ranking, I put it after Empire and before 7.  Here’s the way I rank them as of now.  4, 6, 5, 3.5, 7, 3 (really good, people just hate the shit out of the 2nd trilogy), 2 (the last 1/3 is really good), 1 (an egregious piece of shit).

Star Wars Episode 7

I loved it.  JJ Abrams did a great job with the story.  Yes, there are some shoutouts to the earlier films with characters or props.  SPOILER ALERT: 95% of the audience in the theater didn’t use deodorant; it smelled like a Syrian refugee camp in there.  Nerds, save your money on just 1 action figure and buy a couple Speed Sticks.

I smelled a couple of the angles right out but still found it enjoyable.  I also had a bunch of questions, one of them being how is Carrie Fisher’s voice deeper than mine?  I understand she probably downed a quart of Bombay a day since ’83 but Jesus Christ, she sounds like 85 year old truck driver with emphysema.

Here’s how I rank the 7:

Star Wars, Jedi, Empire, Force Awakens, Revenge of the Sith, Attack of the Clones, and the biggest piece of shit to grace the screen, the Phantom Menace.

Here’s my impression if Hayden Christiansen called JJ Abrams, asking him for a part in the new film.

Hayden: JJ, it’s Hayden, what’s up?

JJ: Who?

Hayden: Hayden Christiansen, you know…I played Anakin in the prequel trilogy

JJ: Ummm…Right…what can I do for you?

Hayden: Well, I was wondering if there was any role for me in the new film you’re directing.

JJ: Sure, we can always use an intern or some help on craft services.

Hayden: I was thinking more of an on-camera role, maybe a flashback scene with Vader or earlier memory of Anakin.

JJ: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAH!!

Hayden: You don’t need to be mean.

JJ: Awww, come on, this isn’t Hayden.  Did Harrison put you up to this?  Man, that old goat has a sense of humor; despite being married to that bulimic wife of his.

Hayden: No, Harrison didn’t put me up to this.  I’m serious, would you have a part.

JJ: (Shouting to no one) JJ, Alec Guiness is the other line. Hayden, I gotta take this call from Alec Guiness.

Hayden: JJ, he’s been dead for over 30 years.

JJ: He’s calling collect, gotta go.  Good luck in Jumper 2.

 

My rating, I’d give it a 7.5 out of 10.  I’m dying for the next film and thankfully, it’s only another year and a half to episode 8.