DISCLAIMER: I had planned to write a review for The Rise of Skywalker and I tried doing so while I was pretty damn ill last week and as a result, I just wrote eight paragraphs about Star Wars while deep in a cold medicine haze. I’ve read it back again and my points are clear or well-articulated but it still kind of makes sense to me and I think it might be one of the most passionate pieces I’ve ever written so I’ve decided I’m still going to post it. Just thought you might like a warning before you dive in. Speaking of warnings there are actually two paragraphs about TROS (I promise) and although I wouldn’t say they contained actual spoilers I just wanted to warn you I do vaguely mention some things but nothing I would say is film ruining.
First off, apologies for the lack of a book review today. I had been planning to review Starsight or one of the Star Wars Comics but I fell behind reading while I was ill and my comics only arrived today so I’ve not had time to read, let alone digest them enough to review them for you folks. I do want to talk (shock horror) about Star Wars though and although I do want to talk primarily about The Rise of Skywalker which seems to have become a highly debatable and wide-ranging topic of emotions right now I also want to talk a little about Star Wars films as a whole. This review will be free of huge spoilers and will only mention things vaguely so should be safe if you are yet to see the film.
First a little background. I’m not a big popular Star Wars blogger but I have loved Star Wars for a very long time and I occasionally blog about it. I remember watching the original films with my parents when I was little and falling in love with the entirety of the universe, I wanted to be a pilot, I wanted to be a Jedi, I wanted to be a princess. I adored Leia’s sass and the way she could handle herself but could also kiss the guys without being reduced to just a love interest. I loved playing in pretend space battles with my friends, usually, I would be Leia and I would use a blaster and a lightsaber because of course, Leia was a Jedi. The films were full of fun and hijinks and I was beyond myself with excitement when the prequel films came out and I could watch them in the cinema! I became obsessed, I had an X-Wing and a Millenium falcon and I was stupidly proud of my complete Star Wars Tazo collection and my high score on the pod racing arcade machine in that one arcade on holiday where we stayed for a week. I had a huge crush on Obi-Wan and then later, Anakin (I was young okay?!) and posters and drawings all over my walls. I was devastated when the prequels ended and although I clung to it, eventually my Star Wars obsession gave way to video games, going out to gigs every weekend and books with vampires in them. When the sequel trilogy came out everything came rushing back and the moment I could get a baby sitter I spent the only spare money I had to go see The Force Awakens as soon as possible to avoid any spoilers and I was ten years old again. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, but we’ll get back to that. I’ve continued to devour Star Wars content over the years but every so often I do pull myself back a little and I still haven’t finished Clone Wars, I haven’t read the Thrawn books yet but I consider myself a fan. Even if my Tazo collection has been lost to time somewhere.
So The Rise of Skywalker came out last week. I went with a friend to see a triple bill of the sequel trilogy culminating with TROS at midnight and I loved every minute. Watching Star Wars in the cinema, for me at least, is such a fantastic experience and I’m so happy and grateful that I have been able to do so. Despite rewatching all of the previous films numerous times this month already I watched TFA and TLJ with rapt attention, savouring every moment despite being pretty under the weather. I had brought popcorn for during TROS but it remained untouched because I found it impossible to look away from the screen. It’s such a very fast-paced film that if you even blink too long you’ll miss something. I enjoyed it immensely though, I was glad that although it is very all over the place it was vaguely heading in the same direction unlike the whole Canto-Bight fiasco in TLJ. I was so pleased we got some great scenes between not only Finn and Poe but the trio in general, Rey included who in a lot of moments acted like a dysfunctional but adorable poly trio.
We got some brilliant sprawling locations and backdrops, some great imagery, I cannot wait to get my hands on the art book next year to see all that concept art goodness. The score too was, as usual, a work of art from the amazing John Williams, although I did feel some of the placing throughout the film was strange but I’ll admit something I wasn’t hugely focusing on and probably won’t very much until next years home release. We got a lot of old throwbacks that could be seen as purely “fanservice” but honestly, I am 100% fine with that, they’re there for fans to enjoy after all, shouldn’t that be the idea of the film in general? I walked out of the cinema after that first showing and felt…satisfied. Where there things I wish had happened differently? Absolutely. Was it a perfect film? Definitely not. There was a butt load of things wrong with it but THAT IS STAR WARS. Which brings me onto my next/perhaps main point.
Star Wars has never been perfect. It’s always been a little camp or a little silly and I love that it is able to be both a source of fun as well as inspiration. Although Leia had a profound effect on me and the person I am today that’s not something I think about every time I watch a New Hope. I think about how hilarious and whinny Luke is, I facepalm myself a million times, I don’t (often) think about the convenient button to destroy the entire Deathstar (I do a little bit more now because I think about how if people didn’t question this would we have missed out on Rogue One and I think about nerdy, adorable and in love Galen Urso in Catalyst). Empire is often heralded as the “best” Star Wars film and yeah it’s awesome but it also has Luke crawling into the guts of his dead mount, kissing his sister and damn Yoda was weird hey? The power of that movie I think is tied into the reveal, you can really tell the people who watched Empire not knowing about the relationship between Vader and Luke (myself included) because it was a HUGE moment for most of them (again, myself included).
The Prequel films get a lot of hate and they are incredibly ridiculous but I will consume any form of content about or featuring Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan, although it’s cringe-worthy now I thought Anakin and Padme’s love story was this big tragic epic and I had so many angsty feelings about it when I was younger. When I think of the prequels I don’t think about the crappy CGI, the glaring plot holes and I (try) not to think about just how creepy Anakin actually is, especially for the first half of AotC. The films were objectively “terrible” but I loved them and for a lot of people it was their first introduction to Star Wars, for some they still are. We make jokes about how bad these films were but I’m sure it’s not just me who still watches the crap out of them anyway.
The sequel trilogy has been subject to even more criticism for many different reasons. we are a LOT more critical about films now, “everyone’s a critic” as the saying goes and that’s fine. I mean, I’m literally a blogger who writes reviews but when I write I don’t tell you “this book is bad, this book is good.” I try to stick with how I feel about a book or a show or whatever, I try to explain what I liked or didn’t like about it, I’m in no position to tell you what a book or a film is to anyone I can only tell you what it is to me and a lot of people engaging in discussions about Star Wars lately seem to have no regard for that so I’ve been trying to avoid them where possible apart from sobbing at gifs on Tumblr. I’m someone who came out of The Last Jedi, confused but mainly annoyed but two more showings later and I was in love with it and despite its perceived shortcomings I love that film to death. The problems with this sequel trilogy are a lot more prevalent because we scrutinize films a lot more now and a lot older “bad films” don’t face the same treatment because “it was a different time” or because they are protected by the wonderful bubble of nostalgia that we humans cannot get enough of nowadays, again myself included.
Does this absolve films from being “bad?” No, not really but I just think there are more important things than tearing apart people who loved or hated it, as I like to say “Let people have nice things”. YES we should have seen some better queer rep in TROS, YES, Rose Tico was done dirty and I have plenty of other spoiler opinions I’m happy to chat about but I think it’s so important it’s done in a healthy and safe way/environment. A lot of people are upset, angry and/or hurting right now and honestly, no-one cares about your “hot take”.
….This is where I trailed off for some reason, I think maybe the cold medicine might have knocked me out? Either way, I hope you’ve enjoyed or at least got a laugh out of…whatever that was. I promise next week everything will/should be back to normal!