The Rise of Skywalker : My Thoughts In No Particular Order

I know, its been months and I am just now am writing about The Rise of Skywalker.

I actually missed it in theaters due to what we will call “a series of unfortunate events”. I did not see the movie until a week and a half ago.

I was frankly terrified.

I really do like The Last Jedi movie, but some decisions were made in that film that I found disappointing.

Add to that the fact that Disney has severely let me down in some areas recently *coughs* ENDGAME! Stories and characters that meant the world to me were not given their proper dues. It’s hard when you invest in something so deeply and then find yourself disappointed.

However, I am happy to report that I did enjoy The Rise of Skywalker and many of the choices made for the movie. It’s not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a good movie. Here’s what I liked about it.

Finn is a Force User.

Years ago I wrote an article where I stated that I believed Finn would also become a Jedi in the future. That did not happen, but I was correct on my belief that he was a Force user. To me, the way that the character of Finn was handled in The Rise of Skywalker is one of the most satisfying aspects of the whole movie.

Finn was an exciting and great catalyst character in The Force Awakens. I fell in love with him in about 2 minutes of him being on screen. His energy was contagious, his commentary hilarious, and the chemistry created between him and Rey made me a hard and fast FinnRey shipper.

I felt that Finn was severely underused in The Last Jedi. His sideline arc with Rose felt unnecessary, and while it did help his character reach a more confident decision about being aligned with the Resistance, it was still disappointing.

The Finn of TROS was the Finn that I wanted. He still had his boisterous spirit and deep, abiding loyalty, especially to Rey. And yet, he was more confident. I was actually surprised and delighted to see him being the grounded, more moderating character that bound the trio of Poe, Rey, and himself together. Even the way the three hugged at the end of the movie, he wrapped his arms around both of them.

Finn is a character with a powerful love for those around him. And that love continually draws them in and grounds them. Finn is a character who will forever draw people in, give them a place to call home and a person that they can always count on. Those people are a rare and precious breed.

Yes, the elephant in the room, FinnRey. I’ve been a very verbal FinnRey shipper since Day 1.

I still am. Here’s my current take on that duo following The Rise of Skywalker.

I think FinnRey is still very much alive and well. You are welcome to see that as a legendary friendship or as a potential couple somewhere down the road. I feel that both have legitimacy.

Finn did a fantastic job being there for Rey in this movie, having her back, and showing compassion for where she was at emotionally. The fact that he is also a Force User and could sense what was happening with her just cemented the bond that they already have. He’s going to be able to understand things about her that others cannot.

Finn was the person Rey could talk to and trust he would listen and care. He didn’t hold things against her, he had her back 100%. He cried for her. He verbally affirmed her. They spoke in a raw and honest way with each other that was beautiful.

I loved the moment when he sensed her death. The confirmation of his Force-sensitive instincts was so satisfying. And then his joy when he saw her alive was completely consistent with everything Finn has done with Rey since the moment they first met.

I fully acknowledge the beauty of the connection between Rey and Ben Solo. It was powerful and redemptive, more on that later. But I do feel that Finn and Rey have a lasting love for each other that can remain as is or grow.

In terms of the character that connected best with the other people of this movie, I think Finn gets the MVP award. Well done!

Humor

The dialogue between our primary trio was adorable. I didn’t expect that feisty static between Rey and Poe with Finn being the more mellow member. But it was darling and brought a great human element to a very intense, larger than life story.

The banter is what really reminded me of the original trio of Han, Leia, and Luke. But the Sequel 3 definitely had their own flavor.

Droids

We love our two-legged Star Wars heroes, but we all know the truth.

The droids have kept the galaxy running for years and it’s only because the villains overlook them that we’ve survived this long.

Reylo Vs Ren

About a year ago I wrote an article taking to task the idea that something as abusive and inappropriate as the Reylo ship could be romantic. It’s been one of my most-read articles and also received the most controversial responses.

I still stand by that article. I wrote it for the Kylo Ren that we had seen on display in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. The choices the character was making and the way he approached Rey were very perverted and wrong. Therefore the value of that article for the context that it is written is still standing.

True love involves sacrifice. It’s not about control, it’s about loving another person for who they are. It’s not all about what you can get out of them. Ben did not understand this previously. He had tried to control and manipulate Rey multiple times, and would often rage when she refused him. He wanted her to join his agenda. The above image shows who Ben was, and that was YUCKY!

Ben Solo thoroughly redeemed himself in The Rise Of Skywalker. And he proved his love for Rey to be true by pulling a move worthy of Eugene Fitzherbert himself…he sacrificed himself for the woman he loved and for the galaxy he had previously tried to rule over.

This Ben is a night and day difference from the person he once was.

Ben didn’t run from this mess he’d helped create. He didn’t cower uselessly in the shame of his past. He didn’t cave in yet again to the lies and Darkness that had haunted him for so long. No, he ran straight into the Light and gave everything he had to do the right thing.

The beauty that was Ben Solo’s redemption was very simple and straightforward in the writing. The transformation was shown in his costuming and outward actions. And the heart of it was conveyed through Adam Driver’s stunning and emotional performance. He had never looked so glorious, and while I have had so many mixed feelings about this character since the beginning, I have never loved him so much as I did at the end of this movie.

I really love that it was his mother’s voice that called him. He thought he’d gone too far, he could never come home. A prodigal who was unsure of their welcome often stays a prodigal. His mother’s voice opened a door, Rey’s compassion to heal him after she had mortally wounded him softened him even further. And the final gift came with his father’s memory (HELLO, HARRISON FORD) that gave him the courage to make the switch.

It was gentle, humble, and beautiful.

Oh, my lands, the Ben Solo that emerged! His face was soft and beautiful, he wasn’t swaggering or trying to look bigger than he was. His presence itself became enormous and filled the room. Light has a way of doing that. He was wearing all-black but the man was practically beaming!

Just look at his beautiful smile. It’s so gentle and sweet.

A Nod To Han AND Leia In Ben’s Redemption Story

3 people brought Ben back. The 3 people who loved him the most.

His mother, Princess General Leia Organa Skywalker Solo.

Rey.

And his father, Han Solo.

While I understood the symbolism in Ben throwing away the Kylo Ren lightsaber, my practical side panicked. “What are you doing? You have to go into a warzone, you need that, babe!’

But then I found it a wonderful tribute to the Solo blood running through his veins that Ben entered into the Emperor’s lair in a fashion exactly like his late father would have. Sneaking in boldly with a good blaster at his side.

The body language was so similar, he even pulled off that signature, super macho Han Solo move of picking off an enemy with a stray blaster shot over his shoulder. No looking necessary, it’s in the genetic code. Yes, he’s Han’s boy alright.

Rey passed him the lightsaber, Leia’s beautiful saber (such a pretty weapon) through their special Force connection that freaked me out until that exact moment. The sarcastic little nod to the coolness of what he just did to the Knights of Ren confirmed it yet again. THIS IS HAN AND LEIA’S SON!

Han and Leia were honored in Ben’s redemption in such a special way, it was appropriate and brought a lot of restoring grace to a previously tragic family story. Their gifts, the examples that they were, it was not all lost on their son, it did make a difference.

It Was A Palpatine AND A Skywalker Who Ended Him

It only seems fair that after all of the pain these two families have either purposely or inadvertently caused the galaxy that a representative from both should defeat the biggest foe, Palpatine.

I like poetic justice. Palpatine started the Force-sensitive Skywalker line when he used the Force to impregnate Shmi Skywalker with Anakin. And apparently (ahem, severe lack of backstory here) Palpatine actually had a son himself! How and why that happened wasn’t apparently considered necessary information. Either way, Rey was his actual biological granddaughter.

Clearly, her pretty genetics came from Mom’s side of the family. #yograndpasouglyhelostto70scarpetinabeautypageant 

Palpatine has always been an arrogant poop. His sense of superiority and control over everyone and everything has been almost as consistent as his success rate. Luke/Anakin Skywalker really threw a wrench in his plans in one of the most glorious upsets in cinematic history, but this guy is a cockroach who won’t go away.

It was time for him to be finished. How lovely that his own flesh and blood is the one who finished him.

The Voices Of The Jedi

My inner nerd was so pleased with this. Well-beloved Jedi characters from every era of Star Wars we’ve seen on screen, both in movies and shows, was given a moment of honor when Rey drew strength in the Force from them.

I rejoiced to hear Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan, Ashley Eckstein’s Ahsoka Tano, Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker (he deserved this honor), Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Kanan Jarrus (still a bit emotional over that one), and notably, Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn. And of course, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill as the Skywalker twins.

Old and dear friends uniting in spirit and voice for Rey, a character I have loved and admired since I first met her. It was a kind gift to the Star Wars fandom.

A Proper Ending To Reylo And Ben’s Death

True love is unselfish, and it involves sacrifice.

Ben Solo was not capable of this level of love when he was still wholeheartedly choosing to remain in the Dark Side. What he believed was love for Rey was tainted and perverted by his selfishness and control issues. It was pretty disgusting to me, but I gave them room to redeem him.

When Ben Solo goes charging into the Emporer’s lair, he’s not there for himself. He’s there for her, and to do the right thing. He’s running full force #punintended into the Light he has been running from so long.

I don’t know that Ben even believed he was going to make it out alive. I don’t know that he really cared. His actions had nothing to do with what he could get, and all about what he could give.

And he gave it all, he gives his very life Force to bring Rey back from the dead. The way he cradled her in his arms and looked at her with such gentleness and compassion won me over. Yes, dear boy, yes, this is what love is.

One sweet kiss, and then he was gone.

I’m not going to say whether or not that was a wise choice on the filmmakers part. I can live with it, I can also feel the grief of it.

If Ben Solo were a real person, I think it’s possible he may have been reconciled to the concept of death. In his reality, he wasn’t really ending, he was just going to go on into the Force…afterlife? He would be redeemed in the eyes of those who loved him, and he would be reunited with his family. It’s not that he committed suicide (nor would I ever advocate for that), but I think he was at peace with himself either way.

Rey is really the only person he had a connection with in the land of the living. I feel it may have been very hard for him to integrate into a friendship with the people he had tortured, killed, and hurt for so long. The troubled boy was finally at peace.

Rey grieved over him, there is no doubt of that. But I think their connection as special as it was will not be a burden or a regret to her, rather a sweet memory that gives her courage and strength in the future. I think she would be open to loving in that way again.

He finished well.

Kiss Poe Already

I feel that there may have been too much thrown into the basket for this movie. It didn’t wreck it at all, but it did mean that several new characters were created that were not given proper follow-through. We got a hasty introduction and not much more, it was a bit sloppy.

Zori Bliss is one such character. Keri Russel still shone through her brief moments on screen, and I loved the scene where she removed the visor so we could see her drop-dead gorgeous eyes.

But really? Really, girl?

Strange Planets, Space Battles, Bizarre Creatures, And Battles In Lit Corridors

Setting-wise, The Rise of Skywalker did extremely well in capturing the texture and landscape of Star Wars in a very vivid way. My mom even remarked when Finn and Poe were racing along the corridors on the flagship cruiser,

This! This running and fighting in corridors, THIS is Star Wars!

And given that her little five-year-old self was there in the theater at the beginning of all things, I believed her.

Rey Skywalker

I think it was a gift that Rey chose to become a Skywalker. And I loved it that her two masters, Luke and Leia were beaming at her as she took that name. In a way, I feel that she was raised by all 3 of our originals. Han, Luke, and especially Leia all had a hand in teaching and guiding her.

We are not supposed to hate the Skywalkers, for better or worse, we have seen this struggle through their eyes for 5 decades and multiple generations. They are a part of us. We are supposed to see them with honesty, grief, compassion, and resolve.

Rey has chosen to take the best pieces of all who came before her and will carry those things faithfully through her life.

Leia

I feel that Chewie’s inconsolable reaction to Leia’s death captured what we all felt at Carrie Fisher’s passing.

Leia, beautiful, strong, intelligent, compassionate, ever-faithful Leia. She’s the best the Skywalkers had to offer in my opinion, and she was and still is the Star Wars sweetheart of the world.

It’s only right that she is the one who completed the training for the last Skywalker and the ultimate Jedi, Rey. She brought her son back from the Darkness and left behind a Rebel legacy strong enough for others to pick it up and carry it.

The Rise of Skywalker

My sister pointed out the meaning of this title.

Rey was rising to become a Skywalker.

Ben Solo rose from the Darkness into the Light to reclaim his place of honor in the Skywalker line.

It’s very satisfying.

For 9+ Movies and Multiple Series Our Heroes Have Been Trying to Save The Galaxy…It Was About Time The Galaxy Saved Them

Star Wars has one consistent theme, a common thread that runs throughout every chapter and story.

Hope.

No matter how dark, no matter how heavy the grief, no matter how much larger the enemy being faced, hope lives eternally in the Star Wars story.

And despite the fact that among the Star Wars “fanbase” you can find some pretty nasty specimens of humanity, I believe that the franchise as a whole has been uniting people since 1978.

People from all corners of our world’s “galaxy” love Star Wars. People with different skin colors, backstories, occupations, and beliefs. A shared love of Star Wars can instantly close a generational gap or create a common ground for different people.

I felt that both of these special parts of Star Wars were honored in this beautiful, beautiful scene where the galaxy came to save the Resistance and defeat The Last Order.

And yes, I will find out all of these Easter Egg ships hidden in this moment. I was geeking out about Star Wars: Rebels ship The Ghost and that’s about as far as I got.

It was about time the galaxy quit cowering before the bullies while letting someone else take all of the hits for them. It was time that they stood up and fought back.

They did, and it was glorious.

……….

I’m sure there is more to be said, but I’m going to end it here. It was not a perfect movie, it felt like it needed another 30-45 minutes to fill out properly. But apparently, there are some people who won’t sit through a 3+ hour movie. Clearly, they are not Lord Of The Rings fans.

I can watch this movie and all of the movies proceeding it and not feel disappointed or feel that something I love has been tainted.

I know some people were thrilled with this movie, some were devastated. I fall somewhere more in the middle, but I can live with that.

And the best part is, it’s not over yet. The Skywalker Saga may be finished, but Star Wars storytelling is alive and well. I would love to see some more movies featuring my favorite Sequel characters, but I am also deeply enjoying the storytelling featuring non-main Saga characters. #bringbackezrabridger #themandalorian

So, what were your favorite parts? Did you agree with the choices they made? Can we all at least celebrate the fact that Chewbacca finally got the medal he so richly deserves? Would you like to see future movies featuring Sequel characters?

Bless you, friends.