ALEX: Welcome to the PEDESTRIAN.TV roundtable of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which is the third time audiences have seen a Star Wars trilogy end. They bloody love their trilogies!
I’m Alex Bruce-Smith, deputy editor of P.TV, and with me are head of editorial Josie Rozenberg-Clarke and news writer Steff Tan. This is a quick and dirty round-table of Rise of Skywalker, which will be heavy with spoilers because that’s what we’re doing here: talking about the movie.
If you want a non-spoiler take, check out these first reactions. Otherwise, sit back, take a big swig of some nightmarishly coloured milk, and dig in.
ALEX: There was so much swashbuckling fun, I loved so many elements here, but I just don’t know if this landed. Rise of Skywalker picked up nothing The Last Jedi was putting down.
JOSIE: I wonder if that’s because the style of J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson is so glaringly different? One of my thoughts last night was that J.J. should have done all three of them. Because they don’t quite hang together as a trilogy. This was very Hollywood, ticking boxes, happy people smiling at the end, pulling at the heartstrings stuff whereas The Last Jedi was a bit more experimental and emotional.
STEFF: It was definitely enjoyable but it was a lot of fan service. I think J.J. saw the reaction to The Last Jedi (hard to miss it) and tried to people-please. But it got to a point where it was just too much, and the fact that they basically nuked Kelly Marie Tran‘s character was so disappointing.
ALEX: Yes! Rose Tico was such a huge part of TLJ, and an introduction to characters outside the heroes and villains. How does a mechanic for the resistance view these huge battles taking part above her? It was a really interesting choice by Rian Johnson, and I wonder if sidelining her character was purely out of necessity (there were a LOT of characters here) or a reaction to the worst sections of the Star Wars fanbase.
JOSIE: Rose had like 5 lines? It was weird. But then we had a LOT of our main trio, Rey, Poe and Finn, which I really loved. The way they set them up as a trio of friends and didn’t make it anything sexual between Rey and the guys was a refreshing change, I thought. It was taking the OG trio but removing the love story element. It’s modernising the whole thing – a female character can exist without having to sleep with either of the male characters she hangs out with. Who knew!
STEFF: I think it was a reaction to the worst sections of the Star Wars fanbase because I reckon if Rian Johnson directed this one and wrote the story, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, and Ian McDiarmid wouldn’t be in it.
JOSIE: OMG how many people wanted to come back from the dead!!
STEFF: When Han returned I laughed aloud. Like c’mon now.
ALEX: The trio was such a fun element. It brought us back to the old Star Wars vibe of Luke, Leia and Han, which is what people really fell in love with – these vastly different people, working together to throw down the evil empire. I thought Oscar Isaac and Daisy Ridley (and Adam Driver, but we’ll get to him) knocked it out of the park, and Poe Dameron’s character had a real comedic streak I didn’t see coming. I thought John Boyega was a bit sidelined though? I still don’t know what he was trying to say to Rey. I really thought he was going to do a whole “I’m in love with you”, and yet, he mostly spent his time chasing after her while hanging out with another rogue Stormtrooper.
JOSIE: And also screaming. He does a lot of screaming. “REEEYYYYYYYYYYYY!”
ALEX: Okay, how did we all feel about the plot? To me, it felt a bit video game-y – find this chest, get that map, here’s the next stage of the quest. And apparently I need to brush up on my Star Wars lore because all of that Palpatine stuff….. what?
JOSIE: Well as I said to you I felt like the last one was a bit video game-y too. Go to this planet, get Benicio del Toro, get on the baddie’s ship, do the thing. They’re basically all like that, a bit?
STEFF: I dunno, I think I disagree. ROS felt quite similar to The Force Awakens in a traditional sense – it had a very concrete plot line, straight down the line. I had no idea what the fuck was going on in The Last Jedi and that’s what I liked about it. But in the ROS, you could guess the ending halfway through the movie. Nothing stood out, nothing made the crowd gasp like in TLJ, it was very safe.
ALEX: Yeah, safe is the operative word here. It was very, very safe. There was nothing that made me go, WOW, J.J. left his mark. That being said, I loved all the call back moments – pod racing? Hook it to my veins.
STEFF: And the fighter pilot from the original trilogy, I’m blanking, but his cameo was a lovely touch at the end. [Editor’s note: it was Wedge Antilles, played by Denis Lawson.] Also, the ~ voices ~ I swear to god I heard Mace Windu, obviously Yoda, I think Freddie Prinze Jr. (???) from Star Wars: Rebels.
JOSIE: I have to say I did love Han Solo saying “I know”.
ALEX: There was so much raw emotion and power and forgiveness in that scene, and so much love and acceptance shared with a few simple words. And it was also a callback to Han and Leia. It was the perfect amount of callback and new shit.
STEFF: Yeah hard agree! …Is it time to talk about Adam Driver yet?
JOSIE: On a base level I really liked his hair.
STEFF: His turn to the light was inevitable but I still looooved it, sue me.
ALEX: Adam Driver with his wet hair looking like Ben again was such a vibe. I was ready to crawl into the screen and heal him from his secret pain.
STEFF: SAME. Ok, I genuinely loved his chemistry with Ridley. I really liked their whole intense force-bond thing and because I won’t shut up about this, I called it from Force Awakens that they’d end up together… even if it was for three seconds. RIP Ben Solo, forever in my heart.
ALEX: That KISS. I died. And then he did.
JOSIE: I loved his entire story arc, they didn’t rush anything and I think it showed real character development. And I believed it all and it felt realistic. And hell yes, they were always going to a) end up together or b) be related. Lol.
ALEX: Or both, as Star Wars is about that.
STEFF: YEEEES. The one thing they got absolutely right / didn’t rush was his character development. It was so well done.
ALEX: Every scene with Kylo and Rey just packed a punch. Yeah, Kylo’s storyline was predictable-ish, but agreed, it was perfectly paced and Adam Driver will remain the true standout of the sequel trilogy. I loved the moment when Kylo and Rey used their connection to get one over the Knights of Ren and she armed him with a lightsaber.
JOSIE: Any time those two team up to do some damage is epic. The scene in TLJ when they take down Snoke and his cronies is ALL-TIME. I really, really enjoyed that sequence at the end with Palpatine, Kylo and Rey. It was a really great payoff. I felt very satisfied. Of course it was a little predictable, but if it had gone any other way I’d probably feel less satisfied?
ALEX: Yeah that’s a good point – sometimes you WANT the ending you expect. Fun fact: J.J. Abrams said they decided on the ending very very quickly, and had a much harder time figuring out how to get there. Knowing that, and looking back on this film, you can definitely see it.
STEFF: Well, that all makes a lot of sense now.
ALEX: Alright, let’s talk Carrie (my heart). I think they did as good a job as possible here, and it didn’t feel super shoehorned in, but I was very, very aware every second she was on screen that they were working around old footage.
STEFF: Yep. Also, the throwback scene to when she was training with Luke? Don’t know if that was necessary, to be honest. I’m filing that one under ~ fan service ~.
JOSIE: It will always deeply upset me that this was supposed to be HER movie of the new trilogy and Carrie passed away before she got to make it. Fuck, life is cruel. But I still think Leia had definite impact on the story. Obviously her work with Rey and the Resistance as a whole, Poe’s struggling to deal with leadership after she’d passed away, and then at the end with bringing Ben back.
ALEX: Agreed – it was always heartbreaking to me that she didn’t get to have her movie, when Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill got theirs. It was the best they could have done, but I’m still mad she died.
JOSIE: I’m mad at the world about it. It’s not fair.
STEFF: Oh absolutely. I don’t think I can even put it into words – it’s just so unfair.
JOSIE: Ooh ooh I have another thing I want to talk about! The cute little creature that does the thing to C-3PO and the cool chick who used to be a thing with Poe.
STEFF: Keri Russell criminally underused.
JOSIE: That cute little creature got so many laughs in the movie. I want a pet one. And that character was so badass, bit of a Mandalorian vibe in that we don’t see her face (apart from eyes), no? I adored that bit at the end how Poe was basically like “Want to root?” and she was like “No” but it was all told through body language.
STEFF: Yeah, I really liked her! And that end bit absolutely got a laugh out of me – loved their bits and how serious but also funny [fuckboi-y was not the right word lol] Poe got.
ALEX: That end bit was perfect IMO. But like…. if they want to do a rom-com spin off with those two….. I wouldn’t mind.
The tiny new droid was very cute to me but I feel like I need another viewing to fully appreciate him. There was just so much going on and so many characters / callbacks I felt he got a little lost.
JOSIE: Highlight: when Rey tried to touch him and he wheeled back and said “No thank you.” MOOD.
STEFF: Oh my God, when they were like ‘this droid was on the same ship as Rey’s parents’ I had to mentally note that because SO MUCH WAS HAPPENING.
JOSIE: OMG WAS HER MUM JODIE COMER.
ALEX: OH MY GOD YES. My friend nudged me and was like KILLING EVE.
STEFF: I nudged my brother and he was like ‘SHHH’
ALEX: I feel like that was kept SO quiet. Hello, this woman just won an Emmy, get her in here for 60 seconds.
JOSIE: Speaking of celeb cameos, I do think I spent too much of the movie trying to figure out which Stormtrooper was Harry Styles. Fucking hell, Mark Hamill.
STEFF: OH, I think it was one of the ones Rey talked to when she was using the force on them. When she was like, ‘You will let us in’ or whatever.
JOSIE: I thought so too but then they were both American? I better go see it again.
ALEX: Side note, how distracting was it having Dominic Monaghan in it? Every time he as in screen I was like OKAY HOBBIT.
STEFF: I KNOW.
JOSIE: And then I thought he’d have an important plot point? But he just looked vaguely concerned and added nothing to it? Which was also his role in Lord of the Rings tbh?
ALEX: He really was the most side-lined hobbit.
Alright team, this is quick and dirty – final thoughts?
JOSIE: I think my friend George really summed it up well for me. He said “If you look at it too closely you’re going to find every fault and probably end up hating it. But if you sit back and enjoy it, take it for what it is, it’s just a good, fun Star Wars movie.”
And isn’t that exactly what it’s supposed to be?
ALEX: I love your friend George.
STEFF: Aw, good man George. Yeah, in the same way people shat on Solo but it was fun!
JOSIE: Like, come on. Go back and watch the OG trilogy as a ~ critic ~ and you’ll cringe so deeply into your couch you’ll be swallowed up. These movies are supposed to be fun.
ALEX: I loved so much of it. I thought it was a good ending to what Abrams began with The Force Awakens. I loved all the callbacks to EVERY movie (Ewoks, Tatooine, pod racing). It didn’t have the emotional punch for me that The Last Jedi and Rogue One did, and I think it’s because some of the elements didn’t feel earned within the narrative. But it was so fun!!! Agreed with George, you’ll always find faults, so just sit back and enjoy the damn thing.
STEFF: Either way, it was going to cop backlash. I reckon J.J. did the best he could with such a complicated fanbase. I’m struggling to string together my final thoughts on it – running on like three hours of sleep here ‘cos I went to the midnight screening – but if I had to sum it up in a sentence: Still a billion times better than the prequels, don’t @ me.
That’s it, folks! Except for one additional: shoutout to C-3PO / Anthony Daniels, who had SO MUCH to do in this movie and knocked it out of the park.