Want to know how dire things have gotten in this era of self-isolation? I did something many of you could assuredly never imagine doing. That’s right, I rewatched The Rise of Skywalker. I am jesting to a degree. Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t hate the movie. I saw it in theaters and I thought it was fine. A solid B-minus of a movie. Not particularly good, but not unpleasant. Maybe the fact I don’t really care about mythology played into it. I felt, upon first viewing, that I thought the action was good and it had good actors in it so it ended up adequate. However, since it was available to rent, and I needed something to watch while I rode an exercise bike, I gave The Rise of Skywalker a second look.
Some stuff did work better the second time around. It was a little tricky viewing it again because in the interim I heard things about the movie that isn’t actually in it. Like, for example, Palpatine being a clone. The movie doesn’t get credit for that because it is not in any way, shape, or form clear in the movie. On the other hand, I understand the lack of Rose a little more because I heard she was going to have scenes with Leia and stuff down at the base but then Carrie Fisher died. You can only do so much to work around an unfortunate situation like that.
The pacing worked better a second time though. When I saw it in theaters I felt like they were trying to stuff 15 pounds of story into a 10 pound bag. It’s still a lot, but this time it didn’t feel rushed. Having a sense of what was going to happen makes it flow better and I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all. I also enjoyed the end fight scene more, especially the “land” battle on the spaceship. All the stuff I liked the first time around was also still good. Nothing got worse upon a second viewing.
Of course, a lot of things also didn’t get any better. The jokes largely don’t land. The almost entire lack of true stakes still doesn’t work for me. “Killing” Chewbacca and then immediately bringing him back still feels cheap. Nobody buy Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo, really has to suffer, and he was the villain for two and three-fourths of the trilogy. Also, the kiss between Kylo and Rey still makes no sense and feels so unearned. I heard that it isn’t supposed to be romantic but, honestly, that makes it even more baffling. Who kisses like that when it isn’t romantic? The Leia stuff is also clunky but, again, that’s nobody’s fault.
In short, my feelings on The Rise of Skywalker are both different and the same. My overall feeling is similar. It’s totally fine. It’s a B-minus. If you didn’t like it, you probably don’t need to watch it again. That’s a shame, because I liked the first two movies in the trilogy quite a bit. Ending it on this middling note feels like a waste. They tried to have their cake and eat it too in some ways. They either needed to cut some story stuff and streamline the movie down by like 20 minutes or blow it out a little more so they could explain everything. They did neither, and they suffered for it.