A short time ago in a galaxy so close it’s actually ours, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrived to conclude the nine-part Skywalker Saga. Two years ago to the day, the movie opened to decidedly mixed reviews and reactions from fans. Some loved all the callbacks to the original trilogy, some found the narrative too unfocused and busy to feel satisfying. But how do you feel now?
I ask because partially because it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement of any new Star Wars film and time and distance might mean you’ve reevaluated your feelings since then, and partially because that happened to me. I absolutely hate the film now, but when I originally watched The Rise of Skywalker in the alternate universe that was 2019, I called it “basically fine.” There were scenes I intensely disliked, but there were enough cool moments for me that the movie kind of evened out.
But two years later, all I can remember is the rushed, overpacked plot, the clumsy retconning of The Last Jedi, and most of all, the craven fanservice — the toadying up to middle-aged fans of the original trilogy who feel Star Wars belongs solely to them and no one else. The inexplicable return of the Emperor, Rey’s nonsensical decision to bury Luke and Leia’s lightsaber at the Lars estate on Tatooine, and Chewbacca finally getting his medal, are all scenes that serve no one but the entitled nerds who were angry that the franchise was no longer exclusive designed to appeal to them, at the expense of The Rise of Skywalker itself.
The Chewbacca/medal moment is the perfect example of this, as well as being the moment I find most loathsome in the film. After Leia dies, she bequeaths various things to the main characters; for Chewbacca, it’s the medal that he never received in A New Hope’s final ceremony scene, which has been a topic among fans for over 40 years. If you read the novelisation of The Rise of Skywalker, you’d know this is the medal Han received, and Leia is just passing it along. But since you almost certainly didn’t read the book, like most of the tens of millions of people who only saw the film, you’d be forgiven for thinking Leia was finally presenting Chewbacca his own medal.
But what this means in the world of the movie is that Leia refused to give Chewbacca his medal until after she died. Like, she know the Wookiee deserved it, but she couldn’t bear the idea of giving it to him herself, so she carried it around with begrudging instructions that Chewbacca could only be given his medal over her cold, dead body. It’s a useless scene that makes no logical sense even if you have the context for it — and if you’re a kid who grew up with the sequel trilogy, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Again, it’s just craven fanservice.
But how do you feel about The Rise of Skywalker? Has your opinion changed? Does anybody actually enjoy it more now than they did on December 20, 2019?