MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Skywalker’ satisfying end to ‘Star Wars’ saga for fan
The space-cowboy opera “Star Wars” and I have some things in common.
We were both born in 1977.
That year, a headstrong boy growing up on a moisture farm under the dual suns of sandy Tatooine bought a sassy pair of droids, intercepted a holographic distress signal and followed his crazy “Uncle Ben” on an epic adventure through space.
Another boy, meanwhile, was struggling with just holding his head up, digesting solid foods and getting mobile enough to drag himself across shaggy carpet and upset low tables to get his grubby hands, and teething gums, on anything and everything.
It was years still before these boys met, through a magic box, and the latter had his imagination sparked and world vastly expanded by the exploits of the former.
Forty-two years from the beginning, they’ve been on many adventures together in galaxies far, far away – even if only vicariously, on pages and screens and in dreams.
Others sometimes came along, from that world and this one. Droids and smugglers and aliens and pilots and princesses and friends and sisters and sons and daughters.
Everything else faded away.
I’ve always understood that “Star Wars” isn’t for everyone.
And though “Star Wars” is for me, it isn’t mine exclusively.
It’s a generational saga that has been claimed now by several generations of fans, all who have come to it from different places, for different reasons and with different expectations.
I can say with all sincerity that it’s never let me down; only lifted me up.
Told across media that includes now a trilogy of movie trilogies, animated and live-action TV, radio dramas and countless books, “Star Wars” has become its own genre of entertainment.
Science-fiction, fantasy, western, action, drama and comedy combine.
At times silly, rarely serious, certainly incredible, and otherworldly while also relatable, “Star Wars” isn’t meant to fit into the little boxes that critics and scholars of cinema and storytelling have built to explain the grades they give with their stars and thumbs.
What it means to me – what I want, need and expect from it – is likely different from what it means to you.
Some “fans” seem to want to analyze, scrutinize and dissect to flout its flaws and their own vast intellectual superiority over what is essentially a cartoon for kids and kids at heart.
I just want “Star Wars” to be fun.
If you don’t think too hard about it, the latest in this epic space saga, and presumably the final chapter in the Skywalker story, “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker,” is tremendously fun.
Director J.J. Abrams, who last lent his lens to “Star Wars” for the first film of this final trilogy (“The Force Awakens”), had more than his hands full as he was tasked with tying a relatively neat bow around a gift that has more corners than a loose pile of Lego.
The central heroes of this chapter are Rey (Daisey Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) as chief antagonist. However, the spirits and energies of the original stars (Luke, Leia, Han) are unmistakably present, even when the actors portraying them physically are not.
A menagerie of other characters chew up scenery, contributing humor and utility to advance and color the plot, and keep us stowaways entertained.
These include the anxious and logical protocol droid C-3PO and his chattering sidekick and best friend R2-D2, as well as the hairy, high-maintenance wookie Chewbacca, who have been along for the ride since the beginning; and newer-comer BB-8, the reliable roly-poly robot pal of pilot Poe.
The specific twists of this particular plot are not really important for the purposes of this review.
Suffice to say: There is a war in the stars – just the latest battle in an age of battles that has raged for generations. Our heroes are overmatched and distracted by internal conflicts, including identity crises (multiple) at the core of this epic. Good versus evil. Mind versus matter. Heart versus head. Lightsabers and blaster pistols and jetpacks and warp drives and the Force.
Ultimately, a finish that honors the past, pays service to fans and lays open a path for future “Star Wars” that is wide and unencumbered.
The final scene of the Skywalker saga recalls one of its very first and, for a lifelong fan, felt like home.
Robert McCune is a designer, consultant and occasional film critic for The Dalton Gazette & Kidron News. Write to him at email@example.com