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Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker directed by J.J. Abrams
The Force Is With This One
Not only are the holidays upon us, Star Wars season is once again here as well. I officially submit my review of Star Wars, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker for your perusal.
As a long-time Star Wars fan, I had great hopes when Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. Seeing what they did with the Marvel franchise, I naturally extrapolated similar success to what they might do with the Star Wars franchise, supercharged with the might and muscle of Disney behind it.
When the greatly anticipated Episode VII: The Force Awakens came out in 2015, while I was disappointed by the fact that the story arc resembled the original Episode IV: A New Hope very closely, I was still entertained because the director, J.J. Abrams, introduced some intriguiing new characters and plot elements that invited speculation (something the Star Wars fan community loves to do).
Along came Rogue One in 2016, the prequel to Episode IV: A New Hope. I loved this movie and was lucky enough to attend the red carpet premiere, replete with a full-scale X-Wing fighter on Hollywood Blvd -- the fanboy in me was in heaven! I remember thinking to myself that George Lucas made a huge mistake selling too cheaply and that Disney would usher in a new Star Wars Golden Age. So far so good!
Then came Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in 2017 – and my Star Wars dreams imploded faster than Death Star 2 over Endor. Inexplicably, the director Rian Johnson, systematically shut every plot door that J.J. Abrams opened in the The Force Awakens and simultaneously discarded every bit of fan-revered “canon” in one fell swoop. It’s as if he systematically hunted down and destroyed everything fans loved about Star Wars, a la “Order 66”! Honestly, forget about it being the worst Star Wars movie by far, it might’ve been one of the all-time worst movies I’ve ever seen in any genre, and Rian Johnson deservedly earrned his own entry in the Urban Dictionary as a result: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Rian%20Johnson. I could just picture George Lucas LOL’ing, knowing that forlorn fans like me would beg him to come back at any price – even with Jar Jar Binks in tow!
Meanwhile, as you can see below, the “official” critics gave it a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – Jedi mind trick by Disney? Fans like me crushed it with a 43%, which I thought was generous (I would have rated it 1 out of 10).
So when a neighbor invited me to the “Friends & Family Pre-Showing” of Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker at the El Capitan on December 16th, you can imagine my level of indifference. For the first time in the history of Star Wars films, I had seriously considered waiting for this one to hit Blu-Ray before seeing it, but since it was free, I figured “why not”?
Imagine my surprise when halfway through the movie, I’m not only not hating the characters any more, but I’m actually enjoying the movie! J.J. Abrams now has my undying respect as a Jedi Master for levitating this wreck out of the swamp – not only did he fix all of the issues that Rian Johnson created, he managed to do so in a way that almost allows you to think that some of the gaping plot holes in The Last Jedi were done on purpose. Almost. There were still a couple moments that made me cringe (watch it and you’ll know what I’m talking about), but not enough to keep me from seeing it a second time this weekend with my family. After Round 2, I actually liked it even more and would actually assign an 8 out of 10 for this one – I even rank it slightly ahead of Rogue One, and that’s saying a lot.
Note, however, how wrong again the “critic consensus” is. If you’ve been reading my Kaoboy Musings, you know how much I value contrarian thinking. Let this be no exception. Don’t trust the critics – go see The Rise of Skywalker. J.J. is a Jedi Master, and this is the finale you’ve been looking for!
May The Force Be With You, and Happy Holidays!