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The Good and Bad of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

February 5, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #541: The Good and Bad of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that firmly believes that while owning the Millennium Falcon might seem cool, in reality it’s probably just a big pain in the ass, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and forty one, I take a look at the good and bad of the latest Star Wars movie and the last movie in the “Skywalker Saga,” Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, which hit North American cinema screens in mid-December 2019 and is still playing in movie theatres everywhere (well, as far as I know it is).

As I did with the other two movies in the Disney trilogy, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, I won’t be doing a “typical” or “proper” review of The Rise of Skywalker. Instead, I will be explaining what I think was good and what was bad about the movie. I will also be engaging in spoilers, so you have been warned, just in case you haven’t seen The Rise of Skywalker yet. There are probably still a few of you out there.

So, again, this review contains spoilers. You have been warned.

The Good and Bad of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker


The Good

This movie has a real villain: Unlike the previous two Disney “Skywalker Saga” movies, The Rise of Skywalker has an actual villain in it. Emperor Palpatine, who we all thought was incinerated at the end of Return of the Jedi, is back, and he’s been guiding Kylo Ren and The First Order this whole time in preparation for The Last Order, his big hooha plan to destroy the Resistance, rule the galaxy, and return the Sith to full power again. Now, does any of that make any sense since, again, we all saw the Emperor fucking die at the end Return of the Jedi? No, it doesn’t make any sense at all. But, considering what the previous two movies had to deal with (the incredibly unimpressive Kylo Ren and the even less impressive General Hux), I’m glad that the Emperor returned. And this time the Emperor is terrifying. He can’t move on his own, he seems to be blind, and he looks like a zombie ghost. And when he speaks you listen in absolute shock. That’s the goddamn Emperor, man.

Did all of this happen because Snoke was killed in The Last Jedi?


Princess Leia’s exit from the franchise is dignified: With Carrie Fisher dying before she could film any scenes for The Rise of Skywalker, it was difficult to see how her Princess Leia character could be a big part of the movie, except with the way The Last Jedi ended Leia was going to have to be a big part of the story. There was just no way around it. So how would Lucasfilm and Disney deal with the loss of Fisher? Recast the part? Do a CGI version of Fisher, like was done for Rogue One? Director JJ Abrams decided to repurpose unused footage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, body doubles, and some CGI to have Leia in the movie. I didn’t think that strategy would work. Thankfully, that strategy did work, and the unused footage fits seamlessly in with everything else that’s going on. Leia’s eventual death is bit too abrupt, but it works and is appropriately emotional. At least she didn’t die in the first five minutes of the movie in some lame ass explosion scene, or killed off screen. That would have been annoying.

The return of Lando Calrissian: Lando Calrissian was the only major character from the original trilogy left to return, and, man, was it cool to see him once again, doing that undercover thing that he did so well in Return of the Jedi. And it was super awesome to see him pilot to the Millennium Falcon again. The only real disappointment with the return of Lando is he didn’t have Nien Nunb with him in the cockpit. That should have happened.

I can also say that Billy Dee Williams, at the age of 82, still has that cool smoothness that made him Billy Dee goddamn Williams.

Poe Dameron is an actual character in this movie: As portrayed by Oscar Isaac, Dameron wasn’t much of a character in The Force Awakens. He had a little more to do in The Last Jedi but he still wasn’t a full-fledged character. He finally became a real person in The Rise of Skywalker. And he’s exactly the kind of swashbuckling badass that the new Star Wars movies needed. And we now know that Dameron has a shady as hell past, so there’s plenty to explore with him if Disney decides to make a movie about Dameron or incorporates him into a TV show of some sort. I know I want to see more of his past adventures, especially with Zoril Bliss (Keri Russell). It’s a shame that it took two movies to figure out that Dameron as a badass was needed, but at least we got to see him reach some of his potential.

I do wish Dameron was a better pilot, though. That could have made him the “new” Han Solo. At the moment he’s just a pretty good one. He’s not quite on Han Solo’s level. Maybe Disney will do a Dameron movie in the future? I’d pay to see that.


Rey achieves full badass and we find out what her deal is: As long as Rey, as portrayed by Daisy Ridley, continued to be a part of the new Star Wars trilogy and continued to train as a Jedi that she would, eventually, be the full badass good guy character that the new movies needed. Luke Skywalker is a Force ghost now, and no one else was waiting in the wings to pick up the slack, so Rey was going to have to be the one. And, man, she is so awesome in The Rise of Skywalker. She’s in full control of her Jedi abilities and can go toe to toe with anyone, including that wimp Kylo Ren. And, again, she’s so damn awesome in the movie.

Now, one of the big mysteries with Rey was her past. Who the hell was she? The Last Jedi seemed to suggest that she was no one in particular, but The Rise of Skywalker reveals that she is related to the Emperor. I did not see that coming at all.

I read somewhere that Ridley is most likely done with Star Wars and Rey won’t be appearing in any future movies or TV shows. I hope that isn’t the case. I hope she gets at least one movie where she gets to be the full on hero and beats the bad guy and saves the day and whatnot. Or a Disney + mini-series. That would be cool.

The John Williams score is fantastic: All of the scores Williams has done for Star Wars have been awesome, but this one, in the theatre, hit me as extra special. I’m not sure why as I didn’t notice anything necessarily new or different from his previous Star Wars scores, but, for whatever reason, this one was great. And the music over the end credits was kickass, too, especially the section where the opening theme is reprised. I’m definitely going to have to buy this score CD. I’d love to listen to it as just music.

And how col was it to see the two second Williams cameo in the movie? I knew that was him.

The return of Han Solo: Yes, it’s a brief moment in Kylo Ren’s head as he figures out that he wants to be Ben Solo again, but it’s still cool as hell to see Harrison Ford as the old smuggler one more time. He shouldn’t have been killed off in the first place.

John Boyega gives his best performance of the Disney trilogy: John Boyega’s Finn was an annoying character in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, mostly because it seemed like Boyega was overplaying the part. In The Rise of Skywalker, Boyega finally figures out who and what Finn is. He’s still a “big” character, he still has a lot of personality, but he isn’t all over the place this time. He’s subdued and focused and, well, just more interesting this time around. And his in the moment relationship with Naomi Ackie’s Jannah was pretty cool, too.

Stormtroopers with jet packs: Yes. Stormtroopers with jet packs. Why the hell is this the first movie where we see that kind of thing?

That little robot: The little robot’s name is apparently D-O and it is goddamn adorable. I know that everyone seems to love the little alien technician Babu Frik, but D-O is the new cute thing in the Star Wars movie franchise.


That scene where Rey attacks Kylo’s ship in slow motion: We all saw a glimpse of this scene in the various The Rise of Skywalker trailers, and it was cool looking and all, but the full scene is a sight to behold. Normally, I’d be complaining about having slow motion in a Star Wars movie because it doesn’t really belong (if it didn’t happen in the original trilogy it shouldn’t happen in any future Star Wars movie. It just shouldn’t), but in this instance I’ll make an exception. The scene is so goddamn badass that I can’t wait to watch it a million times on YouTube, because this scene will live on there for decades to come.

I’m Rey. Rey who? Rey Skywalker: Yes, I’m willing to admit that I got chills from this sequence. I shouldn’t have because, just like the slow motion scene, it seems out of place in a Star Wars movie. But then, having Rey say that she’s a Skywalker, after seeing Luke’s Force ghost (did she also see Leia’s Force ghost? Something seemed to be standing next to Luke but I couldn’t tell what it was), in the last scene of the “Skywalker Saga,” I got emotional. Is this the end that I thought I would see? No, not at all. But it is the end of the Saga, and that means something.

I wonder how long she stayed there on Tatooine, in Luke’s old place. You think that will be a Star Wars novel spin-off at some point? Or a comic book?

The Bad

Still no opening fanfare: I’m complained about this with every Disney trilogy movie and the total lack of music over the Lucasfilm logo makes no sense. The opening fanfare before the Original Trilogy movies and the Prequel Trilogy movies is part of the experience of watching those movies. Why the hell didn’t Disney come up with something for its movies? Why not use the Disney theme, or, shit, now that Disney owns 20th Century Fox, why not use the Fox theme as the opening fanfare? A silent Lucasfilm logo is, was, and always will be wrong.

The plot is an incoherent mess/stuff just seems to happen: I couldn’t explain the plot of The Rise of Skywalker if my life depended on it. I’m still not entirely sure what the hell actually happens in the movie. I can’t name any of the new planets the characters go to, nor can I explain what the hell is so special about any of them. And the Emperor’s big hooha Final Order scheme seems so out of left field that it makes me wonder if that was the real plan Abrams had for the Disney movies in the first place. I don’t think it was. It’s just like the return of the Emperor. The Emperor and the Emperor’s power had to be brought back because the movie needed actual, terrifying evil in it. There was nowhere to go after The Last Jedi.


Why would Kylo Ren want to kill the Emperor?: I have a hard time believing that Kylo Ren would want to kill the Emperor. Even a drunk with power, totally psychotic asshole Kylo Ren would want to kill the Emperor. Since he’s so fixated on Darth Vader and the power of the old Empire, I would find it more believable that Ren would want to see if the Emperor was indeed still alive and then join forces with him. Because, shit, the Emperor is the Emperor, a real deal Sith. I would think that would be more important than anything else.

Why didn’t Kylo just get another goddamn helmet?: Look, he’s the new leader of the First Order, the top guy. Why wouldn’t he just commission a new fucking helmet instead of having his old one repaired? Does a bad guy like Ren, trying to establish a new empire to take over the galaxy and rule, seem like the kind of guy that would be interested in recycling/saving/managing resources?


Rose Tico has been pushed to the background for no reason: I liked Rose Tico in The Last Jedi and hoped that, since she survived that movie, she would be in The Rise of Skywalker and be a part of the main action group. And she would be Finn’s girlfriend, wouldn’t she? That seemed to be the direction the character was headed. Instead, in The Rise of Skywalker, Rose Tico is a background character that basically hangs around with Leia back at the HQ and, well, really doesn’t do anything. Did this happen because so many people were upset with her presence in The Last Jedi? If that’s the case, that’s fucking sad as hell. She should have been a part of the main team.

A lack of Luke Skywalker: Yes, I get it, Luke is a Force ghost now, so he isn’t going to be a part of the main thrust of the story anymore. That just doesn’t happen with characters that become Force ghosts. But he still is Luke Skywalker, and that should count for something. At least he got to do the whole raising of his X-wing thing. That was a pretty cool scene.

General Hux is a turncoat- who cares?: General Hux is one of the least impressive villains in movie history. He’s just lame as hell. So when it’s revealed that Hux is the one inside the First Order that’s been feeding information to the Resistance and that he’s a turncoat, it just didn’t register as that big of a deal. I mean, so what if Hux is a traitor? The only cool part of this whole section of the movie is Hux is shot dead by Richard E. Grant’s General Pryde, an actor and a character that should have been in all three of the Disney movies. If Pryde had been in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi those movies would have been better. They would have had at least one real villain in them.

No cool lightsaber duels: I was really hoping that, since this was the last “Skywalker Saga” movie, we would get one truly awesome and badass lightsaber duel between Rey and Kylo Ren. That didn’t happen. The duel on the boat thing kind of started out cool, but then it just petered out. And then, when Rey confronts the Emperor, I thought, well, shit, maybe we’ll get something here. Didn’t happen there, either. And that’s a shame because the Disney trilogy needed really needed to have one, and since this was the last one, this was it.

Maybe we’ll finally get some cool lightsaber action if and when Disney makes a Darth Vader hunting down Jedi movie. You’d think that movie would be in active development.

The ending is too abrupt: The Emperor is the ultimate evil in the galaxy. You’d think it would take more than a minute to completely destroy him, especially when he becomes even more powerful, regenerates himself, and sends out a bolt of Force lightning that stops thousands of spaceships from working. But that’s what happens. Yes, I get it, Rey has all of the power of the Jedi behind her, but a minute? You’d think it would take at least two minutes to completely defeat the Emperor.

What’s with the goddamn swearing?: Characters cussing in the Disney trilogy is something that’s bothered me since it happened the first time in The Force Awakens. I don’t want to hear anyone say “bastard” in one of these movies. That word, and all cuss words, shouldn’t exist in the Star Wars universe. Hell is acceptable since Han Solo said it in Empire, but that’s as far as it should go. No one should ever say “motherfucker” in a Star Wars movie. Or TV show. It just shouldn’t happen.


When I left the theatre after The Rise of Skywalker ended I knew that I liked it but I didn’t know if I liked it more than The Last Jedi. After a few days, I figured out that I did like The Rise of Skywalker more than The last Jedi. In fact, out of the Disney trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker is the best of the three, at least according to me. But, in the big scheme of things, that really isn’t saying much. It’s obvious to me that, now that it’s over, the Disney trilogy was nothing more than Disney exploiting a well-known movie franchise because it owned the franchise and it would be stupid not to make another movie and more money. Disney didn’t really have a story that it wanted to tell. It just wanted to make money. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money, it would have been wise of Disney to find a story worth telling before making a new Star Wars trilogy. That just didn’t happen here. And while the Disney trilogy is good (no one has made a truly bad Star Wars movie, at least not yet), it’s not as good as the Original Trilogy or the Prequel Trilogy. Of the three trilogies, it’s the least of the three. And it’s not even close.

So where does the Star Wars movie franchise go from here? I have no idea. Rian Johnson is still making a trilogy of some sort, but we don’t know what that means exactly yet. Those Game of Thrones guys were supposed to do something but that doesn’t seem to be happening anymore. I know I want to see a few different one off type movies, like a Darth Vader movie, a Luke Skywalker movie, but who knows if those will ever happen. Star Wars is becoming a big deal in streaming television, with The Mandalorian being a mega hit for Disney + and Baby Yoda being a pop culture phenomena, so I’d imagine we’ll see more of that kind of thing (although that Obi-Wan show seems to be in trouble at the moment).

I’m sure we’ll all continue to watch these movies, all of these movies, for decades to come, even the ones we don’t really care for. It’s just what we do as Star Wars fans. At least the Disney trilogy, as seriously flawed as it is, ended on a high note of some sort. That’s cool. I just wish it was cooler. Much, much cooler.


Rating: 8.0/10.0


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The Star Wars saga movies ranked


I have decided, this time around, to only rank the movies in the “Skywalker Saga” as opposed to the entire Star Wars movie franchise, so I’m removing Rogue One from consideration here (I still haven’t seen the Han Solo movie so I obviously can’t include that here, either). This list includes only movies from the “Skywalker Saga,” and they appear via descending order.

The Empire Strikes Back
Revenge of the Sith
A New Hope
Return of the Jedi
Attack of the Clones
The Phantom Menace
The Rise of Skywalker
The Last Jedi
The Force Awakens


Things to Watch Out For


In Search of the Last Action Heroes: This is a documentary about the action movies and the action movie heroes of the 1980’s and, man, it looks fabulous. And it looks like it covers everything action oriented from the 1980’s, from the big budget Hollywood movies like Beverly Hills Cop and Commando and the Rambo movies to the lower budget stuff like movies from Cannon (American Ninja,Revenge of the Ninja, the Death Wish sequels, stuff like that). There are also interviews with the people behind most of the movies (Paul Verhoeven!). I definitely want to check this out.


Terminator: Dark Fate: I did a “Good and Bad” review for this movie (check that review out here) and I’m curious to see if I feel the same way after a second viewing. It doesn’t sound like this Terminator was a hit anywhere in the world and this will be the last one until someone decides to completely reboot it, so if you didn’t make an effort to see it on the big screen be sure to pick this home video release up and see what all of the hub bub and hooha was all about.


Edge of the Axe: The fine folks at Arrow Video are behind this Blu-ray release of a late 1980’s low budget slasher flick from Spain but set in “Northern California.” I have never seen this movie and, truthfully, I don’t remember ever seeing it in any of the video stores I frequented back in the day, so I have no idea if it’s any good or not. In the big scheme of things, though does that even matter? You know that, coming from Arrow Video, that the presentation is going to be amazing and the special features are going to be engrossing or, at least, interesting, and isn’t that what we all want anyway? I would like to see this, though, to expand my slasher movie “experience.” Anyone out there see this? Anyone at all?


Angels Fallen: This appears to be some sort of mega low budget action horror thing about demon hunters and the demon hunting world. The make-up and special effects that we see in the trailer look kind of cool, and, truthfully, I’m always down for a movie about a group of people that are out in the world, hunting and killing monsters and whatnot. And Michael Madsen and Eric Roberts are in it, presumably in cameos of some sort, so that’s cool. This is another one I definitely want to check out.


Next Issue: Attrition starring Steven Seagal! And it will happen this time!


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Read it here!



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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.