The Rise of Skywalker – Initial Thoughts

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Spoiler Free:
It deserved more space. I agree with those who say it’s jam-packed and ticks a lot of boxes. I liked it but wish it had more breathing room.

I also agree the trilogy, as a whole, is incoherent, with The Rise of Skywalker (TRoS) ignoring The Last Jedi (TLJ) as much as possible without (much) literal retconning. And it’s fair to say TLJ ignored a lot of The Force Awakens (TFA). The result is two films that sort of track and a middle film that doesn’t, with the final film trying to do two-film’s worth of storytelling. [1]

I also agree a saving grace, in all three, is the characters: the core actors are great, their performances excellent, their chemistry palpable, both among the younger crew and in their relationships with the older guard. This pleases me enormously as a character-oriented viewer—and, indeed, the core four from these movies are the most recent experience I’ve had in film/TV of falling in love with a new set of characters, the next most recent being Game of Thrones (starting 2011). All this is to say, it’s very hard for me to find characters I love, and that this trilogy accomplished it must stand for something real.

I also like the film’s sociopolitical vantage point. Star Wars has always engaged with the real world. The original trilogy harkened back to the Nazis and arguably alluded to Vietnam with Endor. The prequels explicitly addressed the post-9/11 years, critiquing the erosion of democracy in the name of protection from external threat. This trilogy, and TRoS in particular, addresses our current moment of seeming helplessness, of the consolidation of power in the hands of ever fewer, the acceleration of climate devastation, and the mounting fear that those of us who don’t want these evils (they are evils) are simply too outgunned, literally and financially, to do anything. The basic message of TRoS is to keep hope alive; we have a chance. The way it executes the good guys’ victory (is that a spoiler?) is not easy to relate to the real world, but the message of hope remains crucial. And perhaps on a real-world level, this makes the message of TRoS the most important of the Star Wars movies’.

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Arwen Spicer
Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer is a science fiction writer and writing teacher raised in the San Fransciso Bay Area, and Northern California will hold her heart forever, even if it turns into a desert. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on ecology in utopian science fiction and is an educator on the concept of workable utopias. Her novel The Hour before Morning was hailed as “A carefully paced, rewarding sci-fi debut” by Kirkus Indie.

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Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer is a science fiction writer and writing teacher raised in the San Fransciso Bay Area, and Northern California will hold her heart forever, even if it turns into a desert. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on ecology in utopian science fiction and is an educator on the concept of workable utopias. Her novel The Hour before Morning was hailed as “A carefully paced, rewarding sci-fi debut” by Kirkus Indie.

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