It was time. I had waited a week, not necessarily by choice, but by circumstance. I cut myself off from the news completely so I could walk into The Rise of Skywalker without much expectation.
I enjoyed it.
I find fandom to be fascinating, mostly because for me it is a phenomenon that I feel as though I am on the outside looking in on. I call myself a fan of some things, but I think the word has slightly lesser connotations for me than for others. I’m a fan of MMA, and I try to catch a couple of fights a year, but I don’t follow the storylines or read any blogs or articles. I just enjoy watching the fights.
In the same way, I’m a fan of Brandon Sanderson. I really enjoy his novels and can appreciate his ambition. But I’ve read less than half his catalogue.
I’ve never been quite able to understand the passionate fandom that sports and entertainment generates. I think, for me, part of it is my perspective. When I think of my local sports team’s winning and losing record, I can’t help but think that in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. I like watching a football game, and I like seeing the Vikings win, but if they don’t, I can’t find it in me to get too worked up. Life goes on and it’s all meaningless, right?
Likewise, I consider myself a fan of Star Wars. I like the original trilogy. I didn’t like the prequels as much, but I loved the lightsaber fights. Generally speaking, I’ve enjoyed the Disney era films as well. But just as in sports, I can’t find the space to pull out strong emotions. If I like a story, that’s awesome! I’m happy I spent my money on the time. But if I don’t like a story, I can’t say I get all that worked up. There are always more stories.
I know I’m probably not alone, but I also know that there are people for whom these stories have a much deeper connection. The stories are deeply meaningful, and expectations are high for the future work in the world. This is a beautiful thing, but a difficult one as well.
Partly, economics is at play. These movies cost a ridiculous amount of money to make, which means it’s much harder to take risks.
Expectations are another problem, in no small part because expectations vary so widely. Some fans want a comfortable, familiar story that advances the world. Others want the world to expand and challenge preconceived ideas.
Everything below could potentially be considered mild spoilers. So, you know, read at your own peril.
When J.J. took the reins of the final movie, he wasn’t just responsible for wrapping up a single trilogy, he was responsible for wrapping up nine movies, nine movies that have decades of time between their releases and vastly different creative teams. That he would fail the expectations of at least some fans was a given. How could he not?
Considering his challenges, I think he did a remarkable job.
Is the movie perfect?
No – far from it.
Is it good?
I hate that question. How does one define good? I’m not in any place to judge.
But I can say this: I enjoyed watching the film, particularly the back half.
Personally, and I almost never say this, but I wish this movie would have been longer. The first half of the movie literally flies from scene to scene, moving so quickly it’s almost impossible to track everything that’s happening. God help you if you aren’t caught up on events when this movie starts, because it hits the ground running at a full-out sprint. I would have liked another twenty to thirty minutes, most of it near the beginning, just to give us a chance to catch our breath and help the characters develop.
But the ending, to me, was satisfying. Again, not perfect. Some of the deaths felt cheap to me, and the whole thing was perfectly predictable.
But even so, I found myself caught up in the ending, and I’ll even admit to a tear or two finding their way down my cheek.
So, a giant kudos to everyone who worked on the film. Just finishing something of this scale is an incredible achievement, and considering the pressures and expectations, I believe they pulled off something remarkable.