Friday, December 20, 2019

First, There Was a Trilogy; Then, A Trilogy of Trilogies ...

Next, will we have three series of tri-trilogies?  It is probably too soon to react to seeing Rise of Skywalker, but, I will, because it is my blog.  Spoilers dwelleth below:

First, I really enjoyed it, more so than any other post-Return movie with the possible exception of Rogue 1.  It had a heap of heart, best explained by Lando--that it really is about the few coming together (and then some!).  Just as the first movies were about Luke, Leia, and Han vs. Darth Vader and eventually the Emperor, these three were about Rey, Finn, and Poe vs. Kylo Ren and eventually, yes, the Emperor.  In each trilogy, secondary characters accumulated as things went along, and tertiary characters showed up (Wedge!!), but the key was the core.  One can complain about JJ Abrams having no desire or clue about time/space/distance (most of the nonsense in this movie is how things fit together over time and space), but he knows how to cast.

Second, I need to watch it again, as a lot happened and some of it was hard to follow on a first watching.  Only the credits made me realize how many Jedi talked to Rey at the climax, including Jedi from Clone Wars and Rebels (Kanaan!). 

So, how does it stack up and how do the previous two stack up with all of the Star Wars movies?  In this old post, I came up with a bunch of categories so I will use the most relevant ones again below.

Most Moving Story:  In the old post, I had Empire with the big reveal and Han getting iced over.  Given how many times I choked up while watching Rise, and it was not just the Leia and Han appearances that did it (although they did most of it), I have to put Rise here.  I didn't care so much that Rey was a granddaughter of someone famous, but I did care about her being the culmination of the Jedi, I did care that that this generation saw themselves as fighting for the legacies of the old generation.  Force Awakens had the Han/Ben stuff that was moving, but, well, that came back in Rise.  Last Jedi had some moving stuff with Luke and his ambivalence about his role and overcoming it at the end.  I definitely found each of these three movies far more engaging and moving than any of the three prequels. 

Did any of these three have a great subplot to match the machinations of Palpatine in the prequels?  Not that I can recall.

Best Subplot that is Icky Now:  Luke and Leia kissing is still number one, but Ren and Rey kissing might be a contender. 

Least Original/Most Unnecessary Plot Point: Midichlorians still dominates here.  I think having a heap of new Star Destroyers would have been sufficient--each didn't need to have a planet-killing weapon.

Best Action: the space battle at the end of Rise was a bit much--pretty confusing.  The joy of the original Star Wars was the simplicity of the attack on the death star.  Adding more and more spaceships rarely helps.  But the battle between Rey and Ren in the seas of Endor was pretty terrific.  The final battle between Rey and the Emperor was simple but powerful.  The throne room fight in Last Jedi will always stand out to me as does Luke's fight with Ren. 

Best Humor: Will have to re-watch to remember the best parts.  All I can remember now are the interactions between Poe and Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell).  That and: General, yes, General sequence.  Will have to watch Force Awakens and Last Jedi again to remember the funny parts, but since I can't, well, Empire still wins, I think.

Most Agonizingly Dumb Mistake: Nothing can match the writing/directing of the prequels.  But JJ Abrams deliberate ignorance of space/time/distance is a problem.  Just exactly what were the Ewoks seeing at the end of the movie?  How much time did Lando and Chewie have rallying the rest of the galaxy?

Best Death Scene:  It will forever be Luke's in Last Jedi although Leia's in Rise was quite good, extending herself to her limits to save her son (and made far more difficult by Carrie's death).

Most Funky Plot Device: Having to do a scavenger hunt for a navigation unit?

Most fun:  Remains Star Wars--as it was discovery plus great actors plus much humor and not much darkness.  Force Awakens was fun, as the reunions and discovery were amusing.  Last Jedi was a semi-relentless death march.  So, it was a good Star Wars movie, but not as much fun as the others.

Best call backs:  New droid that looks a bit like those of the droid army, lots of good stuff with C3PO who gets more to do here than in any of sequels, Han!, Chewie and the medal, Wedge!, all the Lando stuff. 

So, my ranking at this time, subject to change after re-watching:

Tier 1: The best of the SW universe
Empire > A New Hope > Rogue 1 > Rise of Skywalker/Return of the Jedi 

Tier 2: Ambivalence 
Last Jedi > Force Awakens > Revenge of the Sith/Solo

Tier 3: Oy
Phantom Menace > Attack of the Clones

Oh, and Mandalorean is somewhere around Skywalker depending on how it finishes/continues, and Rebels is probably just ahead of Last Jedi.

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