For those of you who haven’t seen The Rise of Skywalker yet, I’ll just say that I didn’t love it or hate it; it was a pretty mixed bag of good and bad. For those of you who have seen it, keep reading for my reflections.
As I was leaving the theater, one question kept knocking around in my head:
Was this how fans felt upon seeing Return of the Jedi in theaters?
I was not yet born when ROTJ came out; I didn’t see it until the 90s when I was about 9 years old, and it quickly became my favorite Star Wars movie. I guess it is still my favorite! It has so much going for it visually with its settings, dramatically with its characters, and thematically with its message of redemption through love.
But how must people have felt their first time seeing it, after years of build up, anticipating an end to a groundbreaking trilogy?
Perhaps they were expecting a badass bounty hunter in Boba Fett, and they got…a guy who fell in the Sarlaac. Perhaps they were expecting an epic battle between the Empire and Rebels, and they got…Ewoks. Perhaps they were expecting a crafty, visionary villain, and they got the Emperor…who made another Death Star? Plus there is a detour back to Tatooine, a sibling relationship that comes nearly out of nowhere, and let’s not even mention the terrible dialogue. We made fun of Leia’s “Hold me” line mercilessly even when we were kids.
I had the benefit of taking all of these plot points for granted when I saw the movie. I had no expectations otherwise. Luke and Leia had been established siblings for a decade by the time I saw ROTJ. I just loved the Ewoks, and the stunning locations, and the excellent pacing of the third act battle.
But now I am understanding better how the original viewers of ROTJ may have seen it; maybe it was similar to the way I experienced ROS this weekend.
There were some very good things about the movie. I really appreciated the cinematography, John Williams’ excellent score, the interactions of our main trio of Poe, Finn, and Rey, and especially Adam Driver’s acting performance. Right from the start there were a lot of moments when I was excited about the movie and thought “This is really great.” I especially enjoyed the climatic scene where Rey channels all the Jedi that have come before; it was impressive both visually and thematically. (And it reminded me a bit of Avatar and Legend of Korra.)
However, this was conterbalanced by many points where I was sitting there thinking, “This is really dumb.” Almost nothing about the plot made sense. The Emperor never died! We need to find a clue, that leads to a thing, that leads to a place! All the ships are now like Death Stars! Not to mention that the main revelation hinges on the idea that someone actually had sex with Palpatine.
BEFORE he got all wrinkly, my husband said.
It doesn’t matter, I said.
So, in short, I had a hard time getting over the stupid premise to appreciate the good things about the movie. Maybe in future years, after more viewings, I will be able to let go of my expectations and come to feel fondly about it in the same way I feel about ROTJ. I hope so. I am still a Star Wars fan, but perhaps that means something a little different as I get older.
Did you guys also have mixed feelings about the movie? Feel free to give your opinions in the comments.