Abandon all hope of a Spoiler-Free Review, all who enter here. This is your only warning; I loved this movie too much to hold back on Details! But if you’ve seen it and/or you’re good with spoilers…then allons-y!
Initially, I wanted to see The Rise of Skywalker for purely nostalgic reasons. Even though I still haven’t watched The Last Jedi (though I will remedy this, I promise), I knew that if I didn’t get to see “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” and hear that majestic opening fanfare in the theater one last time, I’d hate myself.
I have never been so happy about a movie-related decision. The Rise of Skywalker exceeded all my expectations, surprised me in incredible ways…and unlocked a creative door for me that I thought would be closed for a very long time.
“The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more as Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron’s journey continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences.”–Google Synopsis
This movie has gotten mixed reviews, and to a certain extent, I understand why. It does sound like The Rise of Skywalker moved in a startlingly different direction than The Last Jedi, and though I blame Disney’s bizarre switch of directors and writers, I’ll say no more about it. Let others squabble, debate, and attack opposite sides of the fandom if that’s what floats their boats. I will be in my corner happily sipping my tea a la Baby Yoda.
Because here’s the thing: as far as I’m concerned, all I ever require from a Star Wars movie is a good, old-fashioned fairytale. By that standard, The Rise of Skywalker went above and beyond its call of duty.
For starters, I knew I was in for a treat when the film opened with…(*drum roll please*)…my Ultimate Star Wars Dream Team! Rey, Finn, and Poe, who never got to form a true trio in the previous movies, spend most of this one together. Not only do they work well as a team and exchange delightfully sassy banter, but they truly care about each other. Rey is the wise and (mostly) level-headed warrior, Finn is all heart and soul, and Poe is their indefatigable, cocky leader. Throw in Chewbacca, C-3PO, and the adorable BB-8 (all of them aboard the Millennium Falcon, mind you), and I’m sure this team could take on pretty much anything.
But the biggest obstacle to their success remains–of course–the fallen son of Han Solo and Princess Leia: Kylo Ren.
I know enough about The Last Jedi to know that Rey and Kylo Ren have…shall we say, a very complex relationship. She believed, just as Luke believed about Darth Vader, that Kylo could turn back to the Light–that Ben Solo was still alive down there in the depths of his soul. In turn, Kylo (or was it really Ben?) legitimately fell in love with her…but refused to leave the Dark Side.
The Rise of Skywalker puts the fantastic tension between Kylo and Rey on center stage: they both want to know where Palpatine is–for vastly different reasons–but they also have this strange bond that allows them to communicate telepathically. They genuinely care about each other, but they also have polar-opposite agendas–and neither are willing to compromise for the other.
UNTIL…there is a Eucatastrophe.
In the middle of an epic face-off between Kylo and Rey, Princess Leia, aging and unwell, reaches out to her son through the Force. The effort proves too much for her, and she dies. But they both hear her–and they both sense her passing. Rey, who’s just stabbed him with her lightsaber, is utterly distraught; Kylo, badly hurt, just sits there in silent, horrified, honest-to-goodness grief.
But then Rey–Rey, who considered Leia her adopted mother–Rey, who had never given up hope that Ben Solo might be redeemed–SHE HEALS HIM. Rey uses the Force to HEAL KYLO REN.
He doesn’t deserve it, not in the slightest. And yet, out of love for Leia, who gave her own life for her son, Rey shows him grace.
Eucatastrophe is a sudden and miraculous grace…[I]t denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so is evangelium [Gospel], giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.
This Eucatastrophe proves to be Ben Solo’s salvation. Leia’s sacrifice, Rey’s grace, and the memory of Han Solo’s love give him the strength he needs to throw his red lightsaber into the sea, renounce the Dark Side forever, and help Rey defeat Palpatine once and for all.
Sacrifice, mercy, love, repentance. Strangely biblical, isn’t it?
At the heart of the film, however, regardless of how stinkin’ AWESOME Ben is now that he’s fighting for the Light, Rey stands tall and strong. She’s been the heroine of this story since the beginning, and she proves herself more than capable of taking on an undead Emperor. But she doesn’t do it alone. Ben comes to fight at her side (oh my giddy aunt), but even he gets thrown off a cliff. Yet just when it looks like all is lost and Rey has failed…another Eucatastrophe strikes.
A great cloud of witnessing Jedi call out to her, imploring her to rise. And she does.
“I am all of the Sith!” Palpatine screeches from his throne.
“And I,” Rey shouts back, wielding not only Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, but Leia’s, “am all of the Jedi!”
And here, my friends, is what I will always love about Star Wars. It isn’t the best and the brightest or even the bravest who triumph in the end: it’s the ones who know (or remember) who they truly are and then stand on it.
Luke proved it first in The Return of the Jedi when he told Palpatine, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” (Some of my favorite words in all of cinematic history, by the way.) Now Ben Solo proves it by remembering who he is–a Jedi, like his mother before him–and Rey Skywalker proves it by believing that she belongs to the Light.
I admit, I left the theater rather flushed and giddy–but my mind was also buzzing for the first time in a long time. I’ve had a horrendous case of storyteller’s block for months, yet the very next morning I sat down with my laptop and wrote my heart out about Rey Skywalker and Ben Solo.
Nine days later, I’ve got a sizable (and growing!) “alternate ending” under my belt. I’m finally learning how to play again–and if I have a redeemed villain and a scavenger-Jedi to thank, then so be it. I don’t mind, not in the slightest.
It’s funny, but the Lord always seems to know when I need a Star Wars movie. He knew I needed it back in 2012 when I, a rather depressed little bean, watched the original trilogy for the first time…and I truly believe He knew I needed it last week.
So now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and help my babies out of the mess I’ve put them in 😉
26 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Rise of Skywalker”
I know so many people were upset with this movie, but I FINALLY got Rey, Poe, and Finn being friends off adventuring which was all I’ve wanted since The Force Awakens but had nearly given up hope on.
To be honest, a lot of my disappointments that I do have with TROS are really just consequences of all the things I didn’t like in the previous two movies; this one seemed to do a lot of damage control and make things work out pretty much the best it could be, considering. It was also the only movie I where I actually liked Kylo Ren and was rooting for his redemption. (being forced to watch him kill his father, aka my FAVORITE Star Wars character was just a lot to get over. I think having him “see” Han in this movie helped with that)
Also, though I was okay with the ending, if you write an alternate I WILL READ IT *grabby hands*
When I realized about five minutes into the movie that I would finally get Rey, Poe, and Finn together, I was like…”OH YEAH, THIS IS GONNA BE GREAT.” XD Those three…gosh, I could really do with some more stories about their adventures together. I love how each of them has a specific role to play within the team; no one is redundant, they have normal (albeit mild) frictions, and yet they’re also hilarious and sweet and looking out for each other 100%.
And yes, although I haven’t seen The Last Jedi, I’m well aware of how The Rise of Skywalker seemed to be doing some major damage control. I was personally okay with this (I was always hoping/convinced, for instance, that Rey would be “Somebody,” and wasn’t too thrilled when I heard that TLJ seemed to deny this possibility), but I realize not everybody feels the same way and they are entitled to their Opinions. (*sips tea again, a la Baby Yoda*)
UMM YES, watching Han Solo die is something I will never forget, and my mom is still mad. Let’s hope she reads this blogpost and finds it in her heart to accept Ben Solo’s genuine repentance and redemption before I make her watch The Rise of Skywalker with me, haha. That scene was Han was BEAUTIFUL. I loved how they basically mirrored the Terrible Awful in The Force Awakens, but with a totally different tone and conclusion. That’s GOOD CONTENT THERE.
I have every intention of posting the story on my AO3 profile! I just like to have several chapters under my belt before I start publishing. But don’t worry, I’ll let everyone know either here or on Twitter when the first chapter goes live 🙂
YES! My brother and sister saw it before I did, and I specifically asked them if we actually got some trio friendship, so I was looking forward to it when we got to the theater 😀
I wanted Rey to “be somebody” too…so I wasn’t disappointed, although I was surprised by who they chose! I’d heard that as a possible theory, but thought it was too far-fetched for them to actual do, lol
YES THE SCENE WITH HAN AND BEN WAS SO GOOD
Also…while my family was talking about being Bitter about Star Wars deaths, my dad confessed he’s still mad about Obi-wan dying, so I gotta say I can’t believe he’s held that grudge for 40 years 😂😂😂
For the longest time I was sure Rey was Luke’s daughter! I was so convinced, man. Then The Last Jedi came out, I heard about the chemistry between Rey and Kylo Ren, and I just couldn’t imagine the writers would set all that up only to reveal in the end, “SURPRISE! They’re cousins.” It would’ve been too much similar to the Luke/Leia problem, haha. But I never entertained the idea of her being a Palpatine AT ALL, so that was a huge shock! XD
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THIS POST IS EVERYTHING AND I DON’T HAVE WORDS
I just can’t get over the beautiful representation of love and grace and mercy and what it means to truly believe in miracles, and . . . and . . .
*collapses in a heap on the floor* MY BABIESSSSSSSSSSSS
I KNOW, I KNOW. (*offers you a handkerchief*) We will be marveling over this for a looooooooooooooooong time to come.
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I LOOK FORWARD TO IT.
THIS WAS AMAZING, MARIBETH!!!!
Wow. I genuinely loved every word of this review. 👏🏻👏🏻
I think one of the things that I’ve ALWAYS loved so dearly about Star Wars, even long before I had gotten into Tolkien’s works or had ever heard the term “eucatastrophe”, WAS the eucatastrophe of them. And the themes of sacrifice and redemption and *love* that run throughout them. I once read a twitter thread on how both the Doctor Who and Star Wars franchises are, at their hearts, built on the theme of rejecting cynicism and choosing instead to reach for wonder. Choosing instead to believe that there IS good in the world, that it IS worth fighting for, that redemption is NEVER beyond reach for those are are seeking, and that the Light WILL triumph in the end. And all those things are, truly, the message of the Gospel. Which is why Star Wars was my first true fandom and one that will always be incredibly close to my heart. (And why Doctor Who has found a new place there so quickly.) ❤️❤️
And I have to admit, I was one of those who had grown to love the “Rey Nobody” concept… the idea that she was no one special based on her bloodline or the legacy of an ancestor, but instead chosen solely by the Will of the Force and choosing to listen and submit to its calling and become the hero the galaxy so needed was beautiful to me, and it took me a bit to adjust to the idea of it being changed in this film. But now that I’ve had some time to mull over all the twists and turns of Rise, I’m coming to love the NEW message that has emerged from Rey’s story – that it STILL doesn’t matter what your legacy is, even if you’re the granddaughter of the most despicable tyrant the universe has ever known, there are still those who love you and believe in you for YOU, and you STILL have a choice to be the hero. Blood doesn’t matter, legacies don’t matter, the only thing that matters is what side YOU choose for yourself. “Subverting expectations,” but in the best way, I think.
Also, devoted Star Wars Rebels fan that I am, I was absolutely *thrilled* upon finding out that that incredible line – “In the heart of a Jedi lies her strength” – was spoken to Rey by the former Jedi-in-hiding KANAN JARRUS. That name likely won’t mean much to you, but oh I love that character. He’s very similar to Tony Stark in certain ways, and I’m still not over his incredible story in the cartoon series. Nor that of his Jedi protégé and basically-adopted-son, Ezra Bridger. If you’ve ever got a hankering for some more incredible Star Wars, and written by a great storyteller who directly credits Tolkien for much of his inspiration, I highly recommend checking out Rebels 😉😁
Welp, it’s only taken me 48 hours to get to this comment–SORRY!!!!!!! XD But let me just say how happy it makes me that you enjoyed the review (what an honor, coming from one of the biggest Star Wars fans I know!) and how much I love everything you said about Eucatastrophe and legacy! I will always love the stories where good triumphs in the end and where characters hold onto hope even in the darkest hour.
Here’s another moment in TROS that I really loved: there’s a point during the Battle of Exegol when General Pryde (I think) asks where this huge Resistance fleet came from. His henchman says, in great surprise, “This isn’t a fleet, sir. They’re just…PEOPLE.” I LOVED THAT. They were just ordinary people rushing in to fight for goodness and freedom, and even the bad guys realized that!!! I just had to mention that 😉
Okay, I listened to your podcast about The Last Jedi yesterday, and after everything you said about Star Wars: Rebels, I’m so intrigued!! It sounds like a really great show, rich in lore and characters and adventure. The fact that the writer considers Tolkien a key inspiration has me even more interested, haha! We need to discuss this more in Twitter DMs 😉
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*squeals and flails arms*
So good! This post literally embodies everything I loved so much about The Rise of Skywalker! And your discussion on Eucatastrophe was perfect. It’s so true, the way sacrifice was a main theme of the movie. Leia’s sacrifice, Rey’s sacrifice, Ben’s sacrifice, and even Han’s sacrifice. Luke’s, too, if you go back to The Last Jedi!
Your post so thoroughly illustrated the beauty and truth of this film, and I loved reading it. And oh my goodness, can I just say how excited I am to read your fanfiction about Rey and Ben? It will be so good, I just know it! I’m subscribed to you on FF.net, so if you post it on there I’ll be the first to read it lol. And leave a long review hahaha
And I just loved how you ended the post talking about knowing who you are: Rey embraced the light, even though she doubted how much of that was her. It reminds me of how we are all born sinful – how Rey was born a Palpatine – but she embraced her “adopted” identity as a Skywalker and stepped into the light. Kind of how we step into our adopted identity as Christ’s and live in his light. You really brought a lot of thoughts to my mind!
Wonderful post! I loved reading it – and I loved it when you called Rey, Poe and Finn your dream team. Team Falcon for the win!
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*squeals and flails arms back at you, haha!*
I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Emily. And I just loved what you said in your comment about Rey embracing her adopted identity. Like I said in the post, this is really why I’ve always loved Star Wars–and it’s why I think The Rise of Skywalker may, in the end, prove to be my favorite Star Wars film. (There, I said it–it’s probably gonna be my favorite. Let the haters rage–I’ll just give ’em the Ben Solo Shrug and fend ’em off.)
Team Falcon–YES–that’s what I’ll call my Dream Team from now on, haha!
Y’know…I think I will post the story on both AO3 and FF.net! I hadn’t considered it before, but I know the Star Wars category is the biggest movie category on FF, so it would probably be a good idea. I’m just trying to get the opening chapters really tight and solid right now. The rest of the story will be determined by how the Resistance and Rey’s friends react to Ben’s redemption, so I want to make sure I’m really satisfied with the outcome before I post those opening chapters 🙂
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It’s probably going to be my favorite, too, to be honest. I loved it so much, and I think it had me on the edge of my seat more than any other Star Wars film. Just for old time’s sake, though, A New Hope will always be second to TROS.
Had no idea that Star Wars is the biggest category on FF. That’s crazy! But I’m so excited to read yours when you post it! I just know it’s gonna be good 😉
Ohhhhhhhhh this review was SO good, Maribeth! I haven’t seen the movie myself yet (I’m waiting until the DVD release) but I’m an unabashed spoiler-monger, so I already know most of the earthshattering developments — courtesy of Shay 😉. To be honest… When she first told me about all of it, I was honestly not super… Affected? I guess that’s a good word. I was gearing up for Christmas, was just starting to get into Doctor Who (and Whoufflé/Whouffaldi 😝) and that very much overshadowed the Star Wars stuff. I was a H U G E SW fan a couple years ago, but that’s faded a lot for me since Rebels ended. I’ve always, ALWAYS shipped Reylo, however. Always. So hearing that they KISSED?! woah. I’m still laughing about the fact that all those crackpot conspiracy theorists who were all over the place about Reylo and Rey’s heritage WERE RIGHT. And none of us expected that!!!
I love your comments about Eucatastrophe. I… Don’t claim to be the hugest Tolkien fan (don’t get me wrong, i love and respect his works, and i DO absolutely ADORE The Hobbit, but I’ve never been terribly “into” LOTR) but I love that term (and the Rabbit Roomers use it a lot, along with “sehnseucht”).
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I’m so glad you enjoyed the review!!! It was so much fun to write….although I have to admit, this WAS the second draft; the first one was a little too, shall we say, enthusiastic. I managed to tamp down my fangirling a level or two for the sake of professionalism (though the captions on my photos should convey my unrelenting giddiness, haha).
I actively searched for spoilers the morning after the movie came out–but honestly even that couldn’t have prepared me for the awesomeness of this movie…or the fact that I’d soon be clambering aboard the Rey/Ben Ship. I could not STAND Kylo Ren, but Ben Solo is a Disney Prince and I will hear no arguments about it. And REY–my daughter–my Sunshine Child–I’m still so proud of her!!! I think you’ll love the movie when you get around to seeing it. I can’t wait for the DVD. I’m gonna watch that thing so many times, I’ll have it memorized in no time flat XD
Ohhhh, you love The Rabbit Room too?! It’s one of my favorite Christian organizations as well. The writers at both the Rabbit Room and the Anselm Society have had a huge effect on me over the past year and a half!
*Waves hand like a Jedi mind trick* You will watch Star Wars Rebels.
Annnnnd I just replied to the wrong comment. I’m gonna go now….
Heehee! I know, I need to see Rebels at some point…after I finish the last three episodes of The Mandalorian, AKA The Baby Yoda Show 😉
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The last two episodes are so good!
2019 was such a fantastic year to be a . I still can’t believe I got to see the end of the main storyline s for two of my fandoms. All!! Of my favorite characters!! Were so amazing!!! And they’re not real!!! But that makes zero difference to me!!! I’m so proud of them!!
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*To be a fangirl. Typing on a kindle is really annoying.:p
Haha, that’s okay!!! You are so right, though: what a year to be a fangirl! Both Endgame and Rise of Skywalker resonated so much with me; I know I loved it if I’m still thinking about them weeks later. And all the character arcs wrapped up SO WELL. I just couldn’t be happier 🙂
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Ahhhhh, I loved this review SO SO MUCH, Maribeth! I loved your thoughts on the Eucatastrophe and the Dream Team and everything!
That meme about Ben and Rey gave me all the feels. Wow.
And I totally agree: that Rey of Sunshine needs the hugs. 😀
And also, I want to read your Rey/Ben story so much. 🙂
I’m so glad you loved the review, Amelie!!! That means a lot to me. I had so much fun writing this article…although I will confess, it went through a few drafts that were a bit too…shall we say, enthusiastic. I had to tone down my frantic glee, haha.
I am SO EXCITED about my Rey/Ben story, YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I’m hoping to start posting chapters by the beginning of February. I think I’ve finally nailed down who their Main Antagonist will be, moving forward…and I think I’ve finally got a good handle on who Ben Solo *is*, too. My interpretation of Ben takes more after Leia than Han–he’s quieter, very intuitive, politically astute, etc–but he’s still got plenty of Han’s snark and derring-do, which makes him loads of fun 😉
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That sounds absolutely amazing! And I love the sound of that interpretation of Ben- I can totally see him with a lot of Leia but still a lot of snark. 😉