Movie Review: Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

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Summary: 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.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. Obviously, we have a ton of returning characters but I’m not going to hit them all. I’m really only going to focus on the ones we spend the movie with because they’re who we’ve become acquainted with. Carrie Fisher passed before the filming of this movie so while Leia is still here, it’s through repurposed unreleased footage from TFA. But she’s great.
  • Daisy Ridley as Rey. She is a scavenger from Jakku. Where we find her in this movie, she is training, to become better etc. Once they get a lead on how they could defeat The First Order, she goes on a series of quests with Finn and Poe. Throughout the film, we see Rey continue to struggle with her who she is, where she comes from. This film ultimately deals with her identity. We get to see this struggle throughout the film and Daisy Ridley does a great job at portraying the various states of emotions Rey finds herself going through. I think she really shines in the third act of the film because she’s emotional and it almost seems uncontrollable at times. I like Rey, I think she’s interesting and finding out her lineage was interesting and I like how they first showed us confirmation on that. This whole “Mary Sue” thing I see online about her, I think is stupid. For one, if Rey is a Mary Sue then so was Luke Skywalker. Sure, she’s good at a lot of things but considering how she had to survive on her own for her entire life, it makes sense she makes sure she’s great at things. Anyway, I just wanted to say that lol.
  • John Boyega as Finn. He is a former stormtrooper who defected to the Resistance. This is probably the most I’ve liked him in the trilogy which is a shame because I find John Boyega very charismatic and likable. In this one, he’s come into his own as being part of the Resistance, he’s brave and willing to do what he needs to do in order to protect his friends and the world. It’s no longer a “every man for himself” kind of thing. Throughout the film, there’s something he’s been trying to tell Rey and spoiler alert, he never gets to tell her and I think he wanted to tell her he’s Force Sensitive which is something we as the audience already knows from the first film. I would assume that Rey would know considering she’s a Jedi.
  • Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. He’s my favorite lol and it’s not just because I adore Oscar Isaac, which is a major part of it but I liked him since his first sequence in the first film lol. He is a high-ranking X-wing fighter pilot and commander of the Resistance. Poe went through a lot last movie and I think he really comes full circle in this one, because he’s not as arrogant as he was about knowing what’s best for everyone (like in TLJ), I mean he’s still a little arrogant lol, but not in the same way. His lesson is leadership and feeling like he’s earned the roles given to him by Leia. I think is probably my favorite version of Poe as well, just because he gets to be lighthearted and sassy which works for his character. I love Oscar Isaac. That’s it lol.
  • Adam Driver as Ben Solo / Kylo Ren. He is the Supreme Leader of the First Order. Born as Ben Solo, he is the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, the nephew of Luke Skywalker and grandson of Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader. His role in this one is very different than we’ve seen in the past. I feel like he wasn’t as prominent in this one but perhaps that was the point. Just like Rey, he’s going through a lot emotionally as well, identity and all that. But that’s all because I can’t get into it without spoiling things. But Adam Driver is great in this role, this is probably the most I’ve liked him as well. I thought he was interesting but I can’t say I liked him or anything before. But I liked what we see out of him here.
Character Chemistry. This is always important when you have characters who spend a lot of time together. It’s important they work well together, if the chemistry is off, you can tell. Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and John Boyega work really well together and I’ll get into this in the cons as well, but the moments we get to see them working together, or when they have a moment to go back and forth, are moments I really enjoyed. I wish we got more of that to really establish their friendship.
Some Interesting Character Arcs. This is particularly for Rey, Poe and Kylo. Being that the trilogy has been about Rey and Kylo, it makes sense that their arcs parallel each other. I think they’re done well. As I said, Rey has identity issues she has to work through and I think that’s handled pretty well. Same with Kylo, they’ve built up his issues since the first film and he really gets his chance for that to come full circle. As for Poe, he’s dealing with the whole being a leader thing, leading people and all that. I think though, that mostly because a struggle towards the end. But I like those arcs though. As for Finn, I  think his arc was handled before this movie because he seems really competent and confident here. So that’s a win.
Visual Effects Are Amazing. Y’all this movie is amazing in how a lot of the effects are handled. There is this great shot of them standing over rushing dark waters and that was some beautiful technology right there. Not to mention, the fight between Rey and Kylo while on that water, also pretty dope. Then, at the end, there is a shot of Rey walking between these two giant black walls and you see this blue light flashing. It was amazing. Technically, this movie has a lot going for it. The opening sequence with Poe, Finn and Chewie on The Falcon was awesome! I mean, I was really into it from the beginning.
Cons: 
Weak Storytelling. Listen, I feel like nothing happened in this movie lol until we got to the last act. I just remember thinking “what is the point of this and this and this?” because when we got to the end, some of it didn’t seem as important or that we didn’t need it. Maybe it’s because I didn’t feel any tension? *thinking face* They just jumped from place to place with mini quests and don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but the real meat comes at the end. Everything else felt frivolous. I wonder if that’s because Rain Johnson deviated a lot from what JJ Abrams wanted to do? I mean, I don’t know what the full plan was but The Last Jedi feels out of place with The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker. So maybe that’s part of the problem, JJ was trying to correct some wrongs.
Main Three Friendship. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the chemistry between the main three, just like I said in the “pros”. But my big problem is that I feel shafted in their time together. When Poe and Finn get back to wherever the Resistance is and the three have this moment where they go back and forth, particularly Poe and Rey arguing about The Falcon and BB-8. It was cute and I laughed but then we don’t really get to see Rey and Poe connect again. I really like their dynamic, even if viewers wanted romance between all three or two of the three, which is fine, but I feel like the movies never quite established how close they are to even earn their big hug. I get more out of their friendship in fanfiction then I have in the films.
Plot Twist Reveals/No Tension. This is big big spoilers so I can’t go into it though I’m sure people have already figured it out, but while the reveal is cool, the way it’s gone about is really lame. Again, I’m sure part of it has to do with the fact that the second movie feels out of place because I feel like the reveal happens so fast, that it fizzles when it should ignite. I mean, it’s cool to watch everything come to a head at the end, but again there’s no tension! I don’t feel any tension! Plus the stuff with Kylo at the end, it’s just… I mean, again, I don’t know everything about SW but some stuff feels like it was either added/changed at the last minute or it was just… bleh. It’s really frustrating now that I think about it.
Overall, I enjoyed myself and I think I enjoyed this one out of the sequel trilogy the most. I don’t know why but I did lol. I continue to like Rey, Finn and Poe but I like them the most here. It seems like there was a bit more fun to be had and whenever they got to work off each other, they did it really well. The use of sound in this movie is great, between the score and how they combine the score with sound effects to add tension in later scenes. This movie has fantastic visual effects, I particularly like the shots with the moving water. There are some interesting character arcs going on in the movie, particularly for Kylo, Rey and Poe. I feel like Finn completed his arc before this movie but after TLJ lol. I’m a casual Star Wars fan, so I feel like this movie does a pretty good job at closing the Skywalker story. I mean, I sure there’s a ton left to do but I don’t think I’d be disappointed if they didn’t include anyone else related to the Skywalkers. Unless it’s Poe. I want more Poe content. He has a comic series, let’s do a spin off series lol. Now, I do think the storytelling element is pretty weak in the film, it just feels monotonous until the end and I feel shafted out of seeing a true and fleshed out friendship between Rey, Poe and Finn. I also think there isn’t much tension when there should be. There’s some big important stuff that is revealed and I think if it was handled better and not just thrown away, it would have landed harder in this film. I think that’s the issue you face when you have a trilogy done by two different directors. Everyone doesn’t have the same vision. Anyways, I don’t think The Rise of Skywalker is horrible, I quite liked it. It’s a good adventure to spend your time watching.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. 
Have you seen Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker? If so, what are your thoughts? If you have a dissertation to write, please, feel free. I’d love to hear thoughts, especially from viewers who are more than casual Star Wars fans. Let me know in the comments.
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Movie Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

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Summary: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. I’m not going to go into huge detail about anyone because that would spoil the film, but I will make mention of everyone who’s important and prominent in the movie.
  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. He is a former powerful Jedi Master who has been in self-imposed exile. There is a lot that he doesn’t reveal that happened between him and Ben Solo and he’s very against Rey being there at first as well. He keeps to himself, doing his normal routine. I think it’s very easy to tell that Luke is afraid of something, he doesn’t want any kind of repeats, so he’s unwilling to do anything that’s Force related with other people. I never quite considered Mark Hamill as Luke, to be that interesting a character, I don’t know if it’s because he’s not that good in person (he’s a great voice actor) but I thought he was very interesting here. I still don’t think he’s that great of an on-screen actor but I liked this version of Luke. Very secretive, and while he’s a grouchy old man, there is still a lot he has to learn himself. Never stops learning.
  • Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. She is Luke’s twin sister, and the leading general in the Resistance. She is leading an evacuation of the Resistance Base because the First Order is attacking. Leia is upset in the beginning because Poe breaks from order, and then more stuff happens and she ends up being hurt in the process causing command to pass to Vice Admiral Holdo. Later, Leia is there and prominent but I thought it was a lot of passing of the torch to Poe. Carrie Fisher is great in this film, she is a great mixture of grace, leadership and humor. As an older woman, she’s not nearly as physical as she was, but her influence is within her ranks and I think that’s just as important. Her relationship with Poe, I find to be very interesting, as well as her relationship with Kylo Ren. Fisher has a lot of emotional moments that require silent and just her expression, I think that’s some very strong acting from her.
  • Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. Basically a servant and apprentice to Supreme Leader Snoke. He is strong with the dark side of the Force and leader to the Knights of Ren (something we still have not seen yet). He was born Ben Solo and it’s clear that he is battling with the light side as well. There is a scene in the trailer where we see his smashed helmet, which is a result of his temper tantrums. At this point, there is no reason for him to hide his face, everyone knows who he is lol. It’s like he’s still trying to prove himself, but at this point, what are his motives? What is his end game? Obviously, he’s struggling, after killing his father, but where does he go now?  There is a lot that’s interesting about Kylo Ren, he thinks he’s right in all that he believes in, or wants to believe in and that’s interesting. I think Adam Driver is a very good actor, but he spends a lot of time moody and broody, staring into space and what not, get’s old. I liked it better towards the end when he was losing his mind lol. It’s more fun.
  • Daisy Ridley as Rey. She is a highly Force-sensitive scavenger, who has joined the resistance and goes to find Luke Skywalker, with the hopes that he would train her. Rey spends a lot of movie, trying to appeal to Luke, to get him to not only train her but to come back and help, as he’s the only remaining Jedi. She’s eager to learn, though something ends up happening where she often speaks with someone else and they both have interesting conversations that seem to put in the air, what will happen in the future? Will there just be a balance of light and dark? I think Rey while strong in her stance, also has a chance to do some bad things. I believe in the light lol, but ya know we’ll see. I like Daisy Ridley, I think as Rey, she has this innocence about her, as well as this vulnerability that rivals the strength she obviously has. I like that about her.
  • John Boyega as Finn. He’s a former stormtrooper of the First Order who defected to the Resistance. I like Finn and I feel like a lot of that has to do with John Boyega, I’m going to get into him more later. John Boyega does a great job at making Finn likable and unlikable because you just don’t know what he might do considering where he came from.
  • Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. First of all, I love Oscar Isaac and I love Poe Dameron. He’s my favorite. I’m glad that he has more to do in this film. I resent the posts I’ve seen about him being the “Jar Jar Binks” of this trilogy and I find that highly ridiculous. Poe is a Commander and the best pilot in the galaxy. Poe makes choices that do put people in danger, and he’s trying to do it for the good of the Resistance, something that he has dedicated his life to. In the beginning, he defies Leia’s orders, which causes him to get into trouble. I also believe the mission at the beginning was also his idea, which it seemed to have been going well, but war is unpredictable. He has a great moment with General Hux over the “call line”. Still hilariously sassy. Because he gets into trouble with Leia, when Holdo takes over, she basically holds that against him and keeps him out of the loop, which makes him believe that her methods are passive and he wants to do something active. Poe does have a character arc in this film, it’s not in the forefront but it’s important for his character in this film. I think Oscar Isaac is a fantastic actor, he is great in everything I see him in and as Poe, I think he’s likable consistently, I might be biased, but I think it’s true. I was on his side, because a lot what happens, does seem a bit ridiculous and could have been worked out better, if they would have told him! He is definitely the Leia of the trio.
  • Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico. A member of the Resistance who works in maintenance. She meets Finn after he wakes up and they at first have a nice conversation, then it turns a bit antagonist, then it turns into a new working friendship. I like Rose, she’s spirited, emotional and strong. Very likable character.
  • Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke. Dude is mysterious, he is the leader of the First Order and Kylo Ren’s master. Andy Serkis is always a win.
  • Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux. He’s not as prominent in this one as he was in the first one, perhaps that because he was the Head of Starkiller Base and that was destroyed in he last movie haha, but here, he’s trying to regain control of things and obviously he hates Kylo Ren. What I think is funny is some of the mannerisms Domhnall Gleeson does for him, like when he’s angry, how he tries to contain it and he starts to shake like a volcano about to erupt. Since he’s not in this one as much, I had a good time watching his reactions to things.
  • Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. So, I’ve never heard of her before, and it seemed that Poe was equally shocked that Holdo was her. I don’t think it was because she’s a woman, because obviously Leia is the shiznit, but that it was her. She’s interesting in that she was passive in some of the choices she makes and she seems to do things for the greater good as well. Laura Dern is good.
  • Benicio del Toro as DJ. He’s an underworld codebreaker and an interesting fellow. Not in the movie a lot, but I wonder what will become of him as the story goes further. He left an impression. Benicio del Toro is always good.
Thoughts on the Story. So The Force Awakens, was about a beginning, about the force “awakening”, not to mention the first steps for many of our characters. This film, I think the title is very interesting in how it’s used for the movie. In this movie, there is a lot going on, but the main through line, I think is balance and will that balance be tipped one way or other. Every character has their own story going on, they’re all fairly interesting. I think the main idea of balance will continue to be a thing, and I wonder how it will play out in the next and final film of this trilogy. We have a maturing villain and a heroine who is doubting herself and her purpose.
The Effects/Music. Being that it’s a Star Wars movie, there is no short supply of special effects. It’s still so cool to see the Rebels (Resistance) and the First Order go at it and seeing them battle it out with their ships. The design of a lot of the creatures we see are also really cool, I want the giant horse creatures and I want the Crystal dogs. So cute. John Williams composes the score, which is classic, and it’s amazing as well. Hearing the Star Wars theme and the accompanying music to intense scenes, it helps up the ante, feels intense. There’s also a great moment with Rey, where it’s like multiple Reys, never-ending and it was really cool.
  • There is a moment specifically that happened towards the end of the film where all the sound cuts out and it’s a silent moment. My breath was caught in my chest, it was so intense, the effects were awesome. It was a very effective scene.
The Connection Between Characters. I didn’t want to necessary say “friendships” because not all of relationships are friendships but I think the way these characters are all connected is interesting. Finn and Rey have their thing, from the first movie, I mean, when Finn wakes up, he’s looking for Rey and the first thing he asks Poe is “Where’s Rey?” so their relationship, which I thought was something created pretty good in the first, continues in this one, even though they’re not together at all. I think Finn and Poe‘s friendship is also a strong one, I kind of felt like Poe took the place of that Stormtrooper who died in TFA, for Finn, he’s part of the reason why he broke ranks and then he meets up with Poe who welcomes him in with no trouble. Finn and Rose become a new friendship that I thought had a lot of potential. Luke and Leia‘s sibling relationship is beautiful. Kylo and Rey have some interactions but I won’t go into that much, which I thought was very interesting. Luke and Rey don’t really have that “mentor/mentee” thing going on, but their interactions are also interesting in that he senses the power within in her, and she wants to understand that power. Leia and Poe definitely have a mutual respect going on, not to mention a “mentor/mentee” thing and I love it. I wish it was explored more in general but she wants him to learn that there is more to being a leader than glory and blowing things up with his jet and he just want to do the right thing even if that means making hard choices. I think all of these relationships between these characters are probably some of the stronger aspects of this movie, a lot of them don’t get the time they deserve to be fleshed out, but I think there is strength behind all of them.
Character Arcs. This kind of goes hand in hand with the previous point, but a lot of characters have to deal with a lot of internal revelations in this movie. Luke, Rey, Kylo, and Poe probably most notably who go through a lot in this movie, that makes them come out different in the end. That’s important for characters. I won’t go into it but I liked the stories and I hope that though they had arcs in this film, that doesn’t mean those characters get pushed to the side in the third one.
The Balance. I think this film does a good job in showing that the dark side is alluring. It has been something to fear in the past, and while it still is, I think this film does something the others haven’t really done and that is show that the dark side could be something that could actually win out against the light. That was a very smart choice. Plus, it balanced emotion and humor, in that it’s funny, but not like there need to be laugh tracks funny, and the emotion is important because the characters deal with things, or make choices that are very emotional, especially when it came to Leia and Luke.
Cons:
Finn’s involvement. Did Rian Johnson just not know what to do with Finn? Does he not like Finn? I don’t get it. In the first movie, he had a bit more to do, he was the one we all thought was going to be the force user (which lets be honest, would have been really cool) but he wasn’t, that’s fine. But then he’s just… I don’t know what it is. I like Finn, but he’s so underused and underdeveloped. WHY!? He has his own motives for things he does, he hates the First Order for what’s happened to him, and what they’ve done to other people. But it felt like they made him go on this silly mission with Rose, to get him out-of-the-way because they just don’t know what to do with him. He was unconscious when Rey left to find Luke, that’s fine. Thinking about it, I have no idea what could have been doing considering what happened in this movie, and plus spoilers, but something that doesn’t feel like he shouldn’t be there. HE SHOULD BE THERE, especially making it such a big deal of him in the first movie. *sighs*
Some Character Designs. I hate Snoke’s look. I hate it. They should have just add Andy Serkis be on-screen as himself, with maybe some prosthetics or something. But noooo, we need to do motion capture because he’s the king of motion capture. No. That was stupid. It was unnecessary use of technology. I also did not like Holdo’s look. In the pictures they released of her, it looked nice and intriguing but in the actual film, I thought it looked pretty bad. In the pictures, the dress laid better and her hair looked better but in the actual film, her dress looked brown compared to the plum color. I don’t know, it just looked sloppy.
Wasted Side Plots and Characters. There are a lot of side plots going on. A lot. The whole thing with Finn and Rose felt like a waste of time, without it, the movie would have been shorter lol, but a waste of time. Captain Phasma shows up in the film again, and unfortunately she’s underused AGAIN. You have Brienne of Tarth in your movie and you don’t use her the way you should? What’s wrong with you guys. Phasma should have been up and through this movie. I hate it when they try to make stuff and characters seem important and they’re just not. It’s so annoying because you can literally just lift them right from the movie.
New Characters. We get a few new characters in this film, Holdo, D.J. and Rose mostly and while I liked Rose, I don’t think she was needed in the film. Kelly Marie Tran was great and her character was cool but if you erase her, and replace her on the adventures with Poe, I think it would have made much more sense. We already know there is a friendship between Poe and Finn, and I think it would have been cool to see them go on that adventure together, like with Han and Luke in the original trilogy. I’m glad Rose was there, more diversity but she felt out-of-place and unnecessary, at least the way they used her. I know why Holdo and DJ were there but meh lol. Both interesting characters and the actors were great but just felt like they were there…just because.
What Happened? So, outside of characters getting arcs, and things happening that could change the way things go in the third one, a part of wondered what exactly happened in this film. There’s a lot going on, but it felt like a lot of was just wasted space and that nothing really happened till the end. Maybe that was the point but when I was thinking about the story, and what was accomplished, there was a lot that happened but at the same time, it didn’t feel like anything actually happened. This movie felt like a bridge.
Overall, I quite enjoyed The Last Jedi. Yes, there were some problems with it, but overall, I had a good time. The acting was good, the characters are still interesting, the new ones and the classic ones from the original trilogy. It was great to see certain characters deal with arcs that put them in a new place, physically, emotionally, spiritually that means a lot for them, hopefully in the third film. I love the effects in the film, especially on the creatures in the film, I want miniatures of all of them. Plus the effects of the space battles, and the design of the planet with the red salt, that was awesome. Some strong aspects of the movie, are the relationships between characters in this film. A lot of them are built up more from the first film and are given more to do, that benefit their characters and the plot in ways. I like how the movie focuses on the balance between light and dark and how similar they are and they show just how alluring the dark side could be. I liked that Kylo and Rey are similar in that they’re trying to find out who they are and are almost paralleling each other’s stories. That’s really cool. With that said, I do think this movie does a huge disservice to Finn’s character in that they don’t seem to know what to do with him, he just feels there and useless and he should be useful and important. I didn’t like the design of Snoke, I think it was a waste to use Andy Serkis in that way, and I did not like how Vice Admiral Holdo looked on-screen. While I enjoyed the new characters, I think Rose especially was unnecessary to have been as important as she was. I liked her but she didn’t feel important to the story. It also felt like nothing really happened in this movie, or at least a lot that happened was just make the movie long. Overall, I liked it and I had a good time.
Rating: 4.30 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi? What are your thoughts? It’s very divisive mostly among fans and audiences, can someone tell me why? Very curious.
Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forgot to like and follow this blog for more movie reviews.