*Spoiler-free, so go right ahead!

Last night, I had the privilege of seeing the new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which releases in cinemas tomorrow, 20 December across the country. I phoned my fianceé afterwards, he is a huge Star Wars fan by the way, and told him that I loved it. Back home, I headed to YouTube to see what the rest of the world was saying and it seems as though I am one of the few that actually liked it.

Therefore, with this article, I’ll be making the case for this last instalment of the Skywalker saga – a nostalgic blockbuster that tried to engage fans both historic and new.

Synopsis

The official synopsis on Google reads as follows:
The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more as Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron’s journey continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences.

While the official Lucasfilm release states:
Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once again to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the riveting conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come.

I’ll not be adding to this, just to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve been following the last two films, you’ll know that there are loads of questions that need to be answered and that is more or less what this film is about.

The nature of blockbusters

I think my biggest critique on everyone hating on the film is their reception of its theatricality. Way back in May 1977, Star Wars: A New Hope was released as part of what would eventually become known as the summer blockbuster. In fact, this film, together with the next two instalments, was seminal in establishing the summer blockbuster as an event, and actually as a genre.

Now, in 2019, we have a different perception of what blockbusters are. We are used to Endgame-esque displays of CGI and marketing campaigns that establish the film as a not-to-be-missed event. The difference between, for example, the Avengers franchise and Star Wars is that the one was born in the seventies and the other in the 2000s.

Our Avengers mindset expects a full-blown action film that keeps hitting you with coordinated fight scenes and CGI wows, with little to no time for emotional investment. The seventies and eighties blockbusters did not skimp on emotion. Remember when Luke found out Vader was his father? Definitely no skimp on emotion.

So you grew up with Star Wars, you saw the films in the seventies, eighties, nineties and early 2000s. But, unfortunately, you are not the only target audience anymore. Re-establishing Star Wars with a big chunk of Millenials and the whole of Gen Z came with some collateral damage and I believe we need to take a second to appreciate how this beloved franchise was translated in 2019.

I loved the fact that this film was action-packed. Every second of the more than two hours had me at the edge of my seat. The CGI was spectacular, there is this scene of Rey and Kylo Ren on the wreck of the Death Star which blew my mind and I really appreciated the colour scheme of the entire film, especially in this scene.

The conclusion of Rey’s story

Rey was introduced in 2015 with the release of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. The film opened to praise for this well-thought-out female lead and how this, together with the use of a black male lead, ushered the film into our current PC mindset.

Throughout the three films, they hint at a romantic connection for Rey, but they don’t really confirm any of it or let it define her – which I love! In this final film, she is mentored by Leia herself and Leia is such an interesting character. She is one of the only constants throughout Episode 4 to 9 and the fact that they position her as such a successful leader that she can mentor Rey, who is in effect the Resistance’s last hope, is very telling of the franchise’s ability to establish strong female characters.

To me, Rey has never been completely light or completely dark. The same with Kylo Ren. Their dynamic is so central to this story – a tug of war between the light and dark side of the Force. In this last episode especially, their relationship, which is central to the final trilogy is to me such an interesting and successful plotline and I feel that this final film gives us the closure needed.

Nostalgia, plot holes, and everything in between

I never watched the franchise as a kid. I only jumped in during my mid-twenties. I watched the entire saga in the order it was released. I loved it instantly and because I like vintage cinema, I was very interested to see the first films especially and what they included in those initial films.

This film is very much an homage to the people who watched the entire series. Nostalgic elements from the past resurface and fans can rest assured that there will be mention of their favourites. I think that the filmmakers went out of their way to include these elements as a tip of the hat to hardcore fans. I found it to be quite effective, but I understand the critique of some critics that it might have been forced and that it might have been overkill.

Now on to the plot holes… I firmly believe that if a trilogy or series contains fewer plotholes than the Game of Thrones finale, we are still good. A film will never be able to satisfy everyone’s needs, and a storyteller, in my opinion, still has a right to some creative agency. And yes, claims that they had known the story would end this way from the start seems a bit far fetched, but all-in-all it definitely had the elements that I was looking for.

Haven’t delved into the Star Wars world yet?
The Star Wars cinematic universe is quite extensive and complicated, and there are many theories on how you can approach it. I find it best to watch it as it was conceptualised which means watching it as; VI, V, VI, I, II, III, VII, VIII and IX. You can, of course also watch it from I right through to IX.

*We have a complete list of Holiday series and films for you, click here to view.

View the trailer, here:

Author

Free State-girl, living in Stellenbosch. Love to explore small towns, read in Afrikaans and everything pop-culture. My favourite yoga move is 'The Pigeon' and one day I'd like to own my own vintage cinema.

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