Sometimes things happen that are very good and you have an experience that was much better than you thought it would be and that was certainly the case of the latest Rise of Skywalker Star Wars film. I know a lot of my readers are perplexed as to why I write so much about Star Wars, and to understand why, I would point to this movie. It has a lot in common with the Donald Trump impeachment by the press, a desired narrative designed to shape a social argument. While the president represents in people a desire to push back against oppressive institutions—which is a continuous theme of all Star Wars movies and shows, the media itself has become one of those oppressive institutions where there trained minds within it find Star Wars ideas threatening, not just childish, but dangerous. So I read with interest hundreds and hundreds of reviews this week about the Rise of Skywalker while many of the same publications framed similar opinions about the presidency of Donald Trump. The common statement was that this new Star Wars film wasn’t very good, it didn’t take the needed chances, and lets face it, it steered away from the progressive politics of the last film, which caused a lot of trouble in the fan community. The Rise of Skywalker was a damn, good movie and a real love letter from the filmmakers to the fan base and it left me feeling very good about it and extremely hopeful for the future.
What Star Wars means to our society I cannot understate enough, the magic it has on our culture is invaluable. I think its very powerful, and important. As a kid’s movie it has the potential to set high goals in the minds of viewers, especially young ones and this Rise of Skywalker film understood that responsibility. These are not movies about reality, or progressive politics, plot points that film school losers studied were important, the Star Wars movies, all of them are about creativity and thinking beyond the scope of your present circumstances. They are also about overcoming impossible odds when faced with dire circumstances. In that fashion, there were parts of Rise of Skywalker that reminded me a lot of the original Wizard of Oz, particularly when the heroes of the story were trying to rescue Chewbacca from a First Order star destroyer. The themes were light on their feet and fun. Reality wasn’t the goal but the flow of optimism was and that made parts of this movie pure magic.
The reason the reviewers choose not to like movies like this and why they don’t like President Trump is that they wish to live their lives in a victimized status, to have something to blame for why they are losers in life. President Trump is about overcoming loser status, and so are Star Wars films at their heart. They are all about using creative tools and technology to help the viewers of the films unlock optimism in their lives hopefully well beyond the time that the lights come back up and the movie is over. The Rise of Skywalker was an optimistic love letter to the audience. Obviously, Lucasfilm has listened to the complaints of the previous films. And I will have to give credit to Bob Iger at Disney, he listened too. There was a lot going on in The Rise of Skywalker that was optimistic, ambitious and a real throwback to the Saturday morning serials that caused George Lucas to make these films so long ago. The opening credits complete with what was likely one of John Williams’ final musical scores was wonderful and set the stage the way these kinds of stories have for hundreds of years, and have been the key to why they are so beloved by so many generations of audiences.
Rather than give away the movie, I’d rather cover the spirit of the film and encourage everyone to go see the movie and reward Disney with a big box office score. I’d like to see this one break some records, because it deserves to. I keep hearing from critics that The Rise of Skywalker didn’t take any chances, the way people have become accustomed to in other theatrical releases, like a Tarantino film, or some movie that advances the political ideologies of the left where women rights are the dominate objectives. Let me tell you about risk, try taking a very private story telling film that Star Wars started out as in 1977 and hold its creative looseness intact as it transitions over to corporate media while still telling stories of individual input and sustenance as the pressures otherwise push down on the attempt. I never said it would be easy for Disney to make these movies, only that they should respect the fans that have stayed with the franchise for over 40 years of storytelling. There was a couple sitting next to me who were older than I was, probably by over ten years and they were sitting there at the end of the credits with me with tears streaming down their faces and a smile from ear to ear. I asked them if they liked the film and of course they were beyond words with approval.
I met similar people in line at Disney World just a week before The Rise of Skywalker was released. They like me had spent thousands and thousands of dollars to take a vacation to Disney World and ride the new Rise of the Resistance at Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios. There were little kids in the line that took over four hours to get through, and there were people who were likely in their 20s in 1977 when the first movie came out and they were happy to participate in this mythology that had grown all these decades into these modern miracles of ride technology. What’s risky is in serving those types of fans while continuing to growth the business needs and take care of the corporate expectations, and Disney certainly put their best foot forward with this one. It may have taken them most of the last decade to get there, but from what I saw, they have finally found their footing. The results of The Rise of Skywalker were obviously good.
The most notable improvement was the return of romance to Star Wars, which had been avoided due to the political upheavals of our modern world. All the main characters ended up with love interests by the end of the film which was very satisfying intellectually, because lets face it, that’s how people think about things. It is unnatural to have passionate stories told in the refrigerator of modern politically correct politics. Yet Disney listened to the fans and gave Fin his third girlfriend of the series. I don’t want to make too much of it, only to note that the writers of the film obviously understood why the previous Star Wars films were missing the mark with fans, and this movie set out to correct that situation rather boldly. Hurray for good ol’ fashioned filmmaking and a turn for Hollywood to correct its course with this obvious attempt to appease the fans. Not the critics, but the people who actually buy a ticket, pay for their popcorns with a king’s ransom, and just want to think about something bigger than everyday life, instead of the restrictions of the unimaginative. Hurray for us all, Star Wars is back!