I saw the new Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker last evening, in Sacramento. It has become a bit of an annual tradition over the years. If I have not been in the theatre, I have been in front of my flat screen at home watching the adventures playing out from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
If you get the impression that I’m stalling with this review, you’re right. You’ll note that I called it a “reflection” up top, as I’m determined not to spoil anything for you. Suffice it to say that the film is very good — perhaps even better than the last one, The Last Jedi, and one of the best of the multi-film franchise.
There are some thrilling cameos in The Rise Of Skywalker, perhaps the most welcomed being Billy Dee Williams’. When I interviewed Williams in 2015, he’d not been invited back to the Star Wars party, unlike his compatriots Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, and he wasn’t at all happy about that. So it was good to see Williams’ Lando Calrissian attempting to save the galaxy again in this new movie. And director J.J. Abrams masterfully found a way to wrap up Princess Leia’s storyline in grand fashion, in the wake of Fisher’s 2016 death.
There is a “damn” moment in The Rise Of Skywalker, when you find out a central character is not exactly who you thought he or should would be. And the new cast, including John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac are great in it.
I’m still stalling.
I have a single qualm with the new film: there’s some bait and switch stuff going on throughout the movie that pisses me off. It’s hard to get invested in something if filmmakers are going to push a DeLorean to 88 mph or spin the world backwards to undo everything that has just happened on screen.
Yeah, I’m still stalling.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is just that. But it’s also the fall of something. Innocence? Childhood? As moving as everything on the screen was — and I was moved — I was more rattled after the lights went up and I watched the multi-generational, crowded theatre empty.
There were a lot of young ‘uns in that audience, but I was far from the only Star Wars fan that had been with Luke, Leia, Han, Chewy, C-3PO, R2-D2, Lando and the rest of them from the beginning. Some of those Christmas moviegoers were silver haired — or no haired! — and walked out of the theatre not with the assistance of The Force, but with the aid of canes and walkers.
Probably like those fans all did, I saw the first Star Wars movie in 1977 in the theatre. I saw it with my older brother, who had insisted that the original film, now called A New Hope, would wrench me from my lofty Lost In Space and Superman perches once and for all.
It didn’t. In fact, a year later Superman: The Movie would captivate me, but Star Wars kept my attention, especially after the mind-exploding “I…am your father” from 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. But there was something very powerful last night about watching a story come to a close after having watched its dawn 42 years ago. That was a long time ago, in a theatre far, far away from Sacramento.
The morning after I watched Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, I’m a little wistful. While the movie ends on a note that more than sets up a new film, Disney is insisting that this is it. That could always change, especially if the movie continues dominating the box office through the holidays and into the new year. But it sounds like we’re saying goodbye to our merry band of rebels.
So I’m a little forlorn. But for the time being — well, until the end of time — we have our copies of the thrilling, original Star Wars trilogy, that God-awful second trilogy, and the very serviceable third wave, be they on digital, blu ray, DVD, VHS, laserdisc, Betamax or otherwise, to watch whenever we want to on a flat screen like the one that I mentioned up top.
And, of course, we have the force, which will always be with us.
In fact, it’s always been strong in me.