Friday, December 20, 2019


Here we go, folks. The final film of "The Skywalker Saga," the three Star Wars trilogies focusing on Jedi Knight turned Sith Lord Anakin Skywalker, his children Leia and Luke, and his grandson Ben who becomes the evil Kylo Ren. The Rise of Skywalker is here at last. Although it had its fun parts like the various lightsaber battles and the Big Damn Kiss, what were supposed to be stand up and cheer moments (like Kylo's betrayal of Snoke in The Last Jedi) didn't really work and plot/lore-wise there were some parts that could have been done much better. Spoilers below the image, so be ye warned...

The first part was pretty cool, although I would have the crawl to establish that the First Order, now having taken over most of the New Republic, is becoming overextended and various resistance movements (in addition to the actual Resistance) are causing them serious problems. No references to certain evil emperors. Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver) and his generals, seeking to bolster their numbers, have learned where the mysterious Katana Fleet (for those not familiar with the old Expanded Universe, a fleet of low-crew mostly-automated starships long thought lost) is and seek it out. Kylo finds the fleet parked around a mysterious evil planet Exegol, lands, and makes his way through a labyrinth of weird mad science (but no clone Snokes in tanks--they didn't explain that and it raises more questions) to find...

The revived Palpatine and a cult that used various Dark Side schemes to raise him from the dead. Though his body is unstable and decaying, he is potent enough to bring Kylo on-board, offering him the Katana Fleet in exchange for Rey (Daisy Ridley). Kylo, however, has his own plans--he hopes to recruit Rey to help him defeat Palpatine ("let the past die; kill it if you must") to seize control of the Katana Fleet and ultimately the galaxy for himself.

Meanwhile, through their spy in the First Order whose identity we discover later, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) learn about the Katana Fleet. Given how the fleet was designed to operate without significant numbers of crew, this would be a boon to the depleted Resistance. Rey abandons her Jedi training under Leia (Carrie Fisher) to join a mission gathering support for an attempt to seize the Katana Fleet, including meeting Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). The middle of the film goes roughly as the actual film does, although it's depicted explicitly that Poe had left Kijimi to join the Republic Navy rather than the Resistance directly--per the books and comics, Leia had poached him off the military for her budding private army and the canon needs to be consistent. And although their confrontation is similar to the canonical film, there's no reference to a "Force Dyad"--just have Ben pull his "become my apprentice/marry me" routine some more and have Rey turn him down.

Kylo/Ben's redemption plot--the duel aboard the ruins of the Second Death Star, Leia burning herself out to distract him psychically, Rey mortally wounding and then healing him, and Ben's vision of his father forgiving him and his subsequent throwing his dark saber into the ocean--remains, as that part I really enjoyed. However, in the process Rey learns her true identity--she's some kind of science-project spawn of the Dark Side cult, perhaps a female Palpatine clone--and in horror she flees to Ach-To.

(Palpatine having a son and daughter-in-law whom he later has killed raises all sorts of questions the movie doesn't have time to answer. Where was he during the Imperial period? Would he or Vader be the designated successor if Palpatine slips in the shower or something? Better that the people who left Rey on Jakku were dissidents who abandoned Palpatine's cult when he wanted to sacrifice Rey to the Dark Side to build his new body or something like that.)

However, before she can destroy Ben's TIE fighter and strand herself there, Luke's shade appears and we have a similar conversation. Rey is her own person--she isn't Palpatine, she isn't his "daughter," and Leia trained her as a Jedi despite her being a Sith science project because she knew that. Rey takes Ben's fighter to where the Katana Fleet is located, giving the Resistance the location. Seriously, Luke's X-wing flying again after having spent decades underwater was way too fan-servicey for me, plus it's more likely that a Rebel craft would attract attention from the First Order.

Rey descends into the depths of Exegol to confront Palpatine and face her fears as a Jedi should, only for Palpatine to start trying to suck the life out of her to regenerate his sickly decaying body. The redeemed Ben battles his way through the remaining Knights of Ren and interrupts, allowing for a two-on-one lightsaber duel like the scene in the animated show Clone Wars where Palpatine battles his former apprentice Darth Maul and Maul's brother Savage Opress. Meanwhile the Resistance tries to seize or destroy the Katana Fleet, only to find it much more manned and battle-ready than they thought. Things start to go pear-shaped for the good guys as Palpatine throws Ben down a convenient pit and battles Rey alone. Palpatine knocks her down and starts trying to do his soul-vampire thing again but Rey, spurred on by the voices of previous Jedi, rises to her feet to battle him again, this time using the Force lightning she's shown herself capable of using when sufficiently angered or stressed. Meanwhile, Lando and his allies come through, turning the tide against the Katana Fleet.

(Palpatine doesn't attack the Resistance fleet that's thousands of miles away with Force lightning--that was one of the most ridiculous parts of the old comic Dark Empire and in my scenario he's a little busy.)

Endgame time. Rey beats down Palpatine and kills him, but is mortally wounded herself. Then it's time for Ben to climb out of the pit and use the same Force Heal technique she used to save him to save her. Then they have the Big Damn Kiss like in the movie, but unlike the film Ben survives. The two return to the Resistance base and Rey has her emotional reunion with Finn and Poe while Ben stays aboard the ship (probably the one he used to get there in the first place, since a TIE is too small for two) to avoid the kind of complications his presence would cause.

In the epilogue, we see the stable-boy on Canto Bight from The Last Jedi getting abused by his masters at the racetrack and Ben and Rey show up and mind-trick them into letting them take the boy off their hands. They go back to the ship and we see other Force-sensitives, humans and aliens both, that they've collected from all over the galaxy.

(Hell, if you want some fan service you could have the older Ashoka Tano and Ezra from Star Wars: Rebels there as well. The trainees also don't have to be all kids--the fact Ben and Rey are still obviously a couple and recruiting adults as well as children indicates they're ditching the no-attachments/culty crap the Jedi Order had gotten into by the time of the Old Republic's fall.)

They go off into the sunset together to train a new generation of Jedi, with the Sith gone for good. All is well.

No comments:

Post a Comment