Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Review: Star Wars - The Rise Of Skywalker (tenth-pass)

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker
Cert: 12A / 142 mins / Dir. J.J. Abrams / Trailer

Previous reviews: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

So Finn is a Jedi, now. Okay that's not strictly true, Finn is Force-sensitive, now. Or rather he always was, a bit. It's the thing he was trying to tell Rey for the whole of The Rise Of Skywalker. And that's fine. It's great, even. We've known since 1977 that this mysterious essence exists in all living things, indeed it's created by them. And Finn is a living thing. We just know that some beings are more adept at tuning into it. And those beings are typically Jedi, whereas Finn was a conscripted Stormtrooper.

But there's nothing precluding him from having a high midichlorian-count, of course*1. With the best will in the world, Palpatine and Vader wiping out the Jedi over fifty years earlier was never going to prevent new ones from being born. Force powers are inheritable, but mini-Jedi are born to non-Force-sensitive parents all the time. It's why the Jedi Order had a reputation for being child-snatchers, that wouldn't have spread if the only new Jedi were born in the temple, somehow to a largely celibate order.


But speaking of abduction, why didn't the First Order flag Finn as one to watch? You'd expect them to have some screening equipment in place for the kids they recruit, at least. Based on the Empire-model, the organisation would either quietly dispose of potential Force-wielders or move them across to the Inquisitor-corps and make use of the bonus abilities. Who needs a bunch of fire-starting five yr-olds running around the place?

Let's not forget that Finn wielded a lightsaber on his character-poster for The Force Awakens, something we assumed at the time was related to him holding his own against Kylo Ren on Ilum (well, for longer than most would be expected to anyway). But Finn's power is demonstrably much lower on the scale than Rey's, and without any formal training. TRoS is the movie, after all, where he sees his friend using the Force for healing and suggestion, not just combat and telekinesis. While he's in awe of Rey's abilities, it's more a quiet reverence and a niggle of familiarity. Now that Finn's aware of the Force tingling within himself, it's growing every day.


So it's not beyond the realms of plausibility for one of the Sequel Trilogy's new heroes to find himself coming to the Jedi party a little later. But then, the film seems to suggest that newcomer Janna might be Force-sensitive, too. And the entire squadron she deserted with on Kef Bir. Although in my own personal head-canon, I think that where Finn describes the Force to her as "a feeling", Janna's agreement may be closer to "a conscience". Because unless they were a special project put together by the First Order and hadn't begun their Sith-intern training, the implication there is that anyone can be a Jedi.

And while that's charming in the same way as everyone running a race getting their own medal, the knock-on effect of that optimism is that Anakin, Luke and Rey Skywalker aren't particularly special by virtue of their bloodlines or abilities, only their choices (there is a separate post to be written about the importance of choice, though). The whole narrative of The Chosen One is pretty much diluted when anyone could have trained and become powerful enough to take down Vader and the Emperor, they just didn't, or didn't want to.

We can all be heroes without the Force, that's what Han Solo is there to show.

But I'm very cool with Finn being a Jedi-in-training. Much like Rey building her own orange-bladed lightsaber, it's another foundation laid for future adventures, be they on the screen or the page.

And apart from anything else, Broom Boy is going to need a sparring-partner...

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
The Star Wars.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
That one's up for debate, but probably not.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
Try me.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I can tell.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 0: It is Star Wars.

...but if you wanted to go around the houses with it, The Rise Of Skywalker features Lupita Nyong'o, who starred in Black Panther alongside Forest Whitaker from Taken 3 which had Liam Neeson in it. Neeson was also in The Commuter with Andy Nyman, who starred in 2000's Dead Babies next to Paul Bettany, who was of course in Wimbledon with Jon Favreau, the director and voice-artist behind 2016's The Jungle Book which starred... Lupita Nyong'o.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Hahahaah, oh yes I went there. FIGHT ME. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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