Hadn’t seen this since it’s theatrical run, and I have some mixed feelings about it now.

When it was originally released, I saw it in theatres five times just to see it in every format. It is seared into my brain. And when it came out, I totally bought into where it was going. Yes, it was a simultaneous remake/​reboot, but given the fanbase for these movies, I could see past why they did that. I just saw they were laying some groundwork for something that could become really special. The acting is great, and it just feels like Star Wars. It captures that feeling: something like nostalgia and new mythology all at once.

Years later, I was obviously wrong to get hyped. Honestly, I mostly love Rian Johnson’s sequel, but Rise of Skywalker was so horrid it ruined the whole trilogy for me. It’s hard to view this film through anything other than a lens of disappointment now.

JJ Abrams, in particular, is extremely annoying. His style is grating: lots of techniques get used just because it looks cool,” but he sacrifices their meaning in the process. The whole film eventually feels visually impressive but ultimately meaningless. Angled camerawork, dolly zooms, and quick focus cuts are liberally used, but without any of the meaning they typically carry. In addition, JJ does not understand how to shoot a dogfight in space. (You can tell he kind of just doesn’t bother and doesn’t care about it in the final sequence.)

And while I don’t mind that Rey is a fast learner here, it is disappointing (in hindsight) to see JJ set up a ton of plot points that never get picked up again. Who are the Knights of Ren? How did Moz get Luke’s lightsaber? Etc.

But I’m not a prude! This is still a ton of fun. It’s probably more fun than Return of the Jedi, even if it’s emotionally empty by comparison. The casting is fantastic (particularly Boyega, who is clearly so excited to be a part of this — and who could blame him?). 

And honestly, outside of Empire and The Phantom Menace, this might be John Williams’ best work in the series. Rey’s theme in particular soars here, and Kylo’s theme is so darn fun. It’s a high point for Williams in a career filled with high points.

Reply on Letterboxd