By John Liu
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The Rose quote that was heard all around the world this weekend, “The general asked me to study the specs of old Destroyers.” Fans of Rose suddenly cried out in terror! Was this an excuse to sideline Rose temporarily or would she come back later to save the day? My guess at the time was it would be the former, but hoped it would be the latter. After Episode 8: The Last Jedi (TLJ), Kelly Tran had to deal with so much online harassment for her portrayal of Rose Tico, that she deleted all her social media accounts. Rose made great strides in the Star Wars universe as the first woman of color lead. It is sad that the returning director of Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker (RoS), J.J. Abrams, could not give her a significant role in the story. Rose is the only reason for my Star Wars review to be in the NWAW.
Now that I have gotten my Rose rant off my chest, there is a lot to cover in RoS. We learn Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) has returned and has an army of Destroyers, shown in the trailer. After Snoke was killed in TLJ, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is now the supreme leader and hoping Rey (Daisy Ridley) will join him. Ren has seen Rey’s identity and will reveal it to her. However, Rey thinks there is still some light in Kylo Ren and wants to try to lure him back. I cannot say much more than that without spoilers.
There were multiple challenges for RoS from the get-go. The latest Star Wars trilogy has been bogged down by creative differences for the last 6 years. People are still mystified at how Rian Johnson’s TLJ was approved 2 years ago. It was ambitious and ultimately left a lot of Star Wars fans scratching their heads, but at least we got our first Asian Star Wars lead, Rose. Now the RoS has gone back to J.J. Abrams to finish the Star Wars Skywalker saga with a bang. The next big issue was Carrie Fisher, who played General Leia Organa, and unexpectedly passed away in 2016 without doing any shooting for RoS. Leia had been a fan favorite for 40 years and all that was left was unused footage from TLJ. I am happy to say her final story and tribute was done well, given the circumstances. Holdo’s maneuver that seemed to be able to decimate any enemy ship by traveling hyper speed was touched upon briefly. Remember that kiss between Rose and Finn? Well, neither did J.J. Abrams.
The movie hits the ground running and then it’s non-stop to the finish line. The opening crawl refers to a mysterious broadcast in the galaxy, but it is never heard in the movie. In fact, the only official place is the game Fortnite. That is a real shame because the message was very good at adding some context between the second trailer and the start of the movie. At least create a website where Star Wars fans could listen to it before the movie.
I was satisfied with Emperor Palpatine returning and his storyline, but where did Palpatine get the resources and manpower for his massive armada of Destroyers? Once again, there is a single point of failure for Palpatine’s army as if he learned nothing from his mistake in Episode 4. I almost expected Han Solo’s ghost to say “Great shot!” The story jumps around multiple times and never really lingers on any plot point because it gets resolved so quickly. I understand there is a lot to cover, but wish it would slow down at times.
The ending is satisfactory, and I got the answers I was looking for. Chewie has his moments.
Rey discovers her past. Ben figures out his destiny. RoS just did not feel spectacular. Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame earlier this year completely spoiled me with epic battles and endings!
From talking to my friends, those who disliked TLJ seemed to enjoy RoS, and vice versa. I am happy Carrie Fisher got a nice send off and thanks for 42 years of Star Wars memories. I hope to see Rose back in Episode 10!
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is playing in theaters nationwide.
John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.