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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A Very Merry Star Wars Review

Since a lot of you will be taking your families to the movies over the holidays, I decided to forego my usual Christmas poster and give you a quick, no-spoiler Rise of Skywalker review. After all, the critics haven't been very kind to the movie and you might be debating whether it's worth the money.

Rise of Skywalker poster

I went to see the movie early on Christmas Eve and take it from me -- the critics don't seem to have seen the same movie I did.

Why are the critics so harsh? I suppose it's because Skywalker is really... "full" for a single movie. If they had planned all three movies in this trilogy from the start, they could have set up some of this story in Last Jedi. But they didn't and so there's about a movie-and-a-half of story squeezed into this one. As a result, some things that might have been built out a bit more get glossed over or simply ignored.

But don't let that fool you. JJ Abrams is a fanboy himself and he hit all the important beats. He cranked this movie up to 12 and it's one helluva ride from the opening crawl.

And that's not hyperbole. If you've seen any of the commercials, you've seen a lot of footage that you expect to see at the halfway point or even later in the movie. But when the short "story so far" text crawls across the screen at the beginning, you find out immediately that this movie isn't starting out the way you expected... and a lot of that commercial footage happens in the first couple of minutes.

That's right, I said "the first couple of minutes." And the whole movie only gets better from there, folks. Plus there are lots of little callbacks to the earlier movies -- some folks call them 'Easter eggs' -- that, if you recognize them (and most Star Wars fans will), will get you into the story even faster.

Despite the speed of the story, they still managed to get some real emotional depth in this movie. I don't cry in Star Wars movies -- they just don't affect me that way -- and yet I nearly cried twice. That's not something I expected but, like I said, JJ has done an amazing job of hitting all the important beats.

As for those of you who have been tracking the spoiler reports -- and I know there were a lot of them because I tracked them as well -- I have news for you: The spoilers were misleading. While most of the leaks were reasonably correct (there were some last-minute spoilers that came out just a few days before the movie's release that corrected some of the grosser errors), they were still misleading because they totally missed the context in which things happen. The things that sounded so bad in the leaks were actually very powerful moments in the movie.

If you skip the movie because of the leaks and spoilers you heard, you're going to kick yourself when you finally find out what happened. I'll leave it at that.

Oh, and one more thing. Those of you who wondered how they would handle Carrie Fisher's death don't need to worry. They did right by Leia, folks, and she plays a major part in the movie.

In short, Rise of Skywalker is -- in my opinion -- not only a great finish to this trilogy but a grand finale to the entire Skywalker saga. Take the family and have a great time. I know I did!

And have a Merry Christmas!

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