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Star Wars: The Force is with Skywalker, always

Devina Heriyanto
Devina Heriyanto

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, December 20, 2019  /  05:07 pm

(This review may contain spoilers)

The Rise of Skywalker opens with a space dogfight involving the good old Millennium Falcon and troops from the tyrannical First Order. The Resistance team has been caught snooping around red-handed by the First Order. Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) are struggling to jump to hyperspace.

This scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie: there is hope, immediately followed by a new problem, and everything is set so fast it's almost like hyperspeed.

In the Resistance hideout, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is training and having a hard time adjusting to Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) lightsaber.

"Be with me. Be with me. Be with me," says Rey as she levitates in the lotus position, defying gravity with the Force. Then she drops down and says, "They're not with me."

Rey's solitude and search for herself have been the overarching themes of the third trilogy in the nine-part Star Wars saga. In The Last Jedi, First Order Commander Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) uses his knowledge of Rey's family to lure her towards the dark side. Meanwhile, Rey holds on to her tie to the Skywalker family to attempt to bring Kylo Ren back to his old life as Ben Solo, the son of Leia and Han Solo.

The psychological tug of war in The Last Jedi is made physically manifest in The Rise of Skywalker. Rey and Kylo Ren, bound by their connection in the Force, are simply inseparable.

As viewers have seen the same general story and its ending in the previous movie, The Rise of Skywalker resorts to introducing a not-so-new villain to spice things up: Emperor Palpatine.

Palpatine’s return and his grand idea for the Final Order present a threat to Kylo Ren and his First Order. (Apparently, you can go directly from First Order to Final Order, a testament to the movie's hasty storytelling.) After retrieving a pyramid-like compass dubbed the “wayfinder” to Sith planet Exegol, Kylo Ren discovers one of the film’s great threats. He is then ordered to kill Rey.

Read also: A minute with: The 'Star Wars' actors behind C-3PO and Chewbacca

And so everything is set into motion.

As the last installment of the Star Wars saga, the movie is trying hard to turn Rey into a Skywalker – despite the revelation in The Last Jedi that she is not and that her parents are nobody.

"People keep telling me they know me. I'm afraid no one does," Rey says. Later, when asked about her family name, she smiles and says, "Just Rey."

On the other front, Kylo Ren is battling both his father and grandfather issues. "You must become what he could not," says Palpatine to Kylo Ren, referring to Darth Vader, who ended up turning his back on the dark side to help Luke beat Palpatine in the original, decades old trilogy.

This might seem unnecessary and exhausting for some, but then again, it's not Star Wars without a bit of family drama.

If there is one main critique of The Rise of Skywalker, it is that besides its insistence on making Rey a Skywalker, the movie also feels formulaic. While it's true that almost every story relies on the same three-arc structure, which itself is a formula, The Rise of Skywalker feels like a rehash of every Star Wars movie that came before it. Space dogfight? Check. New gizmo from the First Order? Check. And here’s to their research and development department for making Stormtroopers fly now. Planet destroyer, but make it scarier than the last movie? Check. New droid? Check. And please welcome D-O, a cone-like droid, to the squad of C3-PO, R2-D2 and BB-8.

However, to fans, this is what makes Star Wars Star Wars. That said, The Rise of Skywalker is entertaining instead of tedious, given that its runtime is 2 hours and 22 minutes. If anything, its pacing could have benefited from a longer runtime to leave room for the viewers to breathe and for the characters to be human. There is rarely any moment of genuine interaction between the characters that does not have anything to do with the plot. Of course, Palpatine's Final Order plan sets a time constraint on sentimentalism.

The Rise of Skywalker provides a clean and satisfying end to the Skywalker Saga. While the franchise’s lovers can always find something to quibble about, The Rise of Skywalker is undoubtedly a Star Wars movie, and it gets the job done. (wng)

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