Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

As is my nature, I have seen The Rise of Skywalker four times and I’ve had several days to think about it. With this trilogy and the saga of the Skywalkers as we know them wrapped, I’ve gone back and looked at my reactions to The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. I even went into my LiveJournal archives to look back on my reactions to Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, just because.

Leading up to the release of this film, I watched all of the other films in the saga, in chronological order, including Solo and Rogue One so that everything would be fresh in my mind. I did this by watching one film per night starting the week before release and it worked out pretty well.

This will not be a review, it’s just my thoughts about the end and it may be a little disjointed, definitely a little long because there is a lot happening in this film. I have more to say about Kylo Ren/Ben Solo than this space will allow, so all of that is going to go into a separate post.

As with The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker seems to be on the receiving end of hatred as well. None of the films are perfect, but they are all canon whether people like them or not. Every single Star Wars movie is someone’s favourite just as every single Star Wars movie is someone else’s least favourite. Art is subjective like that.

SPOILERS AFTER THE GIF!

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During the opening, we see Kylo Ren on Mustafar, where he retrieves a Sith Wayfinder from the grounds of Fortress Vader. There’s a thin forest here now. Although I haven’t played Vader Immortal (because I don’t have an Oculus Quest), I have read about the story and it would seem this is evidence that the planet really is healing. But what happened to the castle? Why don’t we see ruins?

Back in 2015, I had wondered if Snoke had a connection to Palpatine. During my rewatch of all of the films, it occurred to me that perhaps Palpatine had created Snoke, that Snoke wasn’t real, or that Snoke was a puppet. I dismissed this thought only to find out I was correct! He was Palpatine’s puppet. I also thought that the secret to conquering death would be an interesting thing to tie all the films together, however I wish we had gotten more hints of Palpatine’s involvement in the other two films.

I wish that we had seen Anakin’s Force spirit in this film. Hearing him was nice, but it would have been cool to see him as well, maybe at the end with his children. I don’t believe that this film cheapens Anakin’s sacrifice as some have suggested. In that moment, in Return of the Jedi, Anakin did bring balance as far as anyone knew because Palpatine did die — he says so in the film — “My boy, I have died before.” But! How long was he dead? How soon was Palpatine revived? We don’t know (at this time). He seems to be like a reanimated corpse, but he could just as well be a damaged clone. This is somewhat hand waved away by the line that, “The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” And we move on. Might ruminate more on this point later.

Anyway, my personal interpretation of the final confrontation between Rey and Palpatine is that true balance could not be brought to the Force until the Jedi and Sith are both completely destroyed, which is why Rey “died” briefly. In that moment, she destroys both. Luke tells us in The Last Jedi that the Force doesn’t belong to the Jedi; it doesn’t belong to them or the Sith.

Rey

When we first see Rey, she is meditating and repeating the mantra, “Be with me.” She is trying to commune with the old masters. Is this something she read about in the sacred Jedi texts or something Leia is teaching her? On that note: Rey actually read the sacred Jedi texts! And she calls Leia, “Master”! I’m so glad to see Leia in this moment, and to learn that she’s had to take up the mantle of Jedi Master, but because they are repurposing old footage, the dialogue feels somewhat off in this scene.

Did she really need to be a Palpatine? This has left me with one major question, which is: who fucked Palpatine?! When? WHY? I wish I did not have to ask these questions, but other than that, fine: it is what it is. She just as easily could have remained Rey from Jakku, but now I’m left with more questions than I had before.

It was so important to hear Luke tell Rey that he had been wrong, since the last time they spoke, they were at odds. This scene on Ahch-To was so reminiscent of Luke’s own conversation with Obi-Wan on Dagobah just after Yoda’s death and prior to confronting his father. Interestingly, you never see Luke’s right hand in this scene; he keeps it covered.

I’ve seen some people not understanding why the title of this film is The Rise of Skywalker, but it was pretty clear to me that it is in reference to the Jedi of the past telling Rey to rise in the Force during her final confrontation and then her subsequent choice to take the Skywalker name. And of course there are people who take issue with that as well, but I thought it was a lovely tribute to her two most important mentors, Luke and Leia, who (somehow?) knew who she was, but ultimately still trained her anyway.

Her lightsaber is yellow and constructed from parts of her staff. Where did she find the kyber crystals? Ilum is gone; it was turned into Starkiller Base and has been destroyed. That’s not the only place you can find crystals, but I hope to get more information about this in the novel or in other ancillary materials.

A lot of people have been saying that they don’t like that Rey is alone in the end of the film on Tatooine. I don’t think that she is. We see BB-8 roll out of the Millennium Falcon. Who is to say that her friends are not on board, waiting for her? Just because we don’t see them, doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Is she going to stay there for a short time? The second to last track on the soundtrack, which plays during this scene, is called, “A New Home,” so it has me wondering.

Also, it’s hard to tell, but it seems to me like the Skywalker lightsabers are buried in close proximity to where Shmi Skywalker is buried. Cue my feels.

Finn

Some folks are upset that Finn/Poe didn’t become canon. I don’t care; I didn’t ship them. If it had happened, I wouldn’t have had an issue with it. However, I think that it is equally important to show two men having a close friendship, to show little boys that it’s not weird or gay to show physical affection to your friends.

Finn didn’t annoy me as badly in this installment. Also, it was pretty clear (and has since been confirmed) that he is exhibiting Force-sensitivity in the film and he keeps trying to tell Rey, but it ultimately goes unaddressed in the film. Some of the people who loved The Last Jedi and hate The Rise of Skywalker cite that one of the things they loved about TLJ is that it showed you can be ‘nobody’ and still be powerful in the Force. This is still true! It has always been true.

The Force is everything and everywhere. Even someone who isn’t a Jedi is still a part of the Force, is still connected to it. If you believe in the Force and hone that belief, then perhaps you can learn to tap into it. Finn being around Rey, seeing that the Force is real, and what it is capable of, has led him to a deeper belief in it and has awoken his own connection to it. With training and discipline, perhaps he will become a Jedi as well.

Other things that I loved:

  • Hux is the Rebel spy! Hahaha, loved this.
  • Skywalker twins training session flashback and Leia’s lightsaber! I love that her lightsaber was blue, like her father’s. I’m going to need a replica of this whenever it inevitably becomes available. I’d also like a book, comic, animated series or something to give me more Skywalker twins training action. The graphics looked a little like a video game, but it’s fine. I’ll take what I can.
  • “You have everything you need,” and Luke’s satisfied face at lifting his old X-Wing out of the ocean.
  • Force healing! We’ve seen the Child do this in The Mandalorian, but Rey apparently learned this from the sacred texts.
  • I’m going to need to know more about what exactly Luke and Lando were up to on Pasaana.
  • C-3PO was so lovable and comedic in this film, I appreciated that. Also thought it was kind of funny that Sith is similar to the Black Speech of Lord of the Rings in that it’s basically forbidden to speak it.
  • Speaking of, just going off of what we have seen in The Mandalorian, which takes place just a few years after Return of the Jedi, people don’t seem to be familiar with the Jedi or able to recognize the Force, so how does Zorii know anything about the Sith language?
  • The company of defected Stormtroopers! The way Jannah reacts to Finn upon learning that he was FN-2187 suggests that perhaps her group had heard about how he defected and that played a part in their refusal to carry out orders?
  • After TFA, I also stated that I wanted Lando and/or Wedge to make an appearance and TROS gave us both.
  • Lando saying, “There are more of us, Poe. There are more of us.” and then the Final Order officer seeing all of the ships and saying, “It’s not a navy, sir. It’s just…people.” This message is so relevant to our current times.
  • Maz giving Chewie Han’s medal, which Leia had kept, as something to remember both of them by.

The nitpicks:

  • Where is Luke’s green lightsaber? While writing this, I remembered that the Caretakers on Ahch-To have it.
  • Not enough Rose after she played such a large role in the previous film.
  • Not enough Connix, either.
  • No Captain Phasma. Disappointing. I wanted her to just keep reappearing.
  • I don’t have a problem with Poe Dameron being a former spice runner, however, where exactly does this fit into his backstory? He’s not that old.
  • I want to like Zorii Bliss more, but her role was so small that I have to ask what was the point.
  • The Final Order fleet has been massing in the Unknown Regions for decades, and they have seemingly been wiped out, right? But what about all of the First Order ships? Where are they? What has happened to them? I know we saw some of them being destroyed, but I can’t imagine that’s actually all of them.
  • Who are the Knights of Ren? We saw more of them, but still didn’t really find out much of anything about them. What was that vision in TFA even about?

I’m not 100% convinced we are done with any of these characters.

The Rise of Skywalker: Final Trailer & Ticket Sale!

Tickets went on sale around 8pm, then the trailer roughly an hour or so after that. I’ll be going to Disney Springs again to see the film in Dolby Digital. Unfortunately this time, we were not able to get our 10pm slot, so we snagged 2am instead. It’s fine — I took 20 December off from work and I’m looking forward to having myself a Star Wars holiday (I won’t return to work until the 26). 🙂

Welcome to Black Spire Outpost.

Bright suns! This past Sunday (4 August), I accompanied my friend Jane to her Disney Cast Member preview of Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Ever since this park was announced, I’ve been beyond excited to experience it. Our reservation for the preview began at 9am, just after the park opened to non-resort guests. The entry to Galaxy’s Edge is located just past the Muppet Vision 3D area and not too far from Star Tours, aka, the “Old Outpost”. It is marked by a large gateway and stepping through, you’ll enter a tunnel that will take you into the world of Batuu, a planet located in the Outer Rim on the edge of Wild Space. The theming of this area is beyond anything I’ve experienced in any theme park thus far. You will not see any Star Wars branding in Galaxy’s Edge and the only signs you’ll see are near the entrance. This will be a long read, so strap in.

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Gateway to Galaxy’s Edge.

As you enter Batuu, to the left you will find the queuing area for Rise of the Resistance, opening later this year on 5 December, as will as a couple of “Resistance Supply” kiosks. Continuing past this to the left, you’ll enter the marketplace where you will discover various shops, such Black Spire Outfitters, where you can buy some pretty decent costume pieces; I bought a faux leather belt there for my Rey costume. You’ll find Jedi and Sith robes and accessories here as well. Other shops include the Toydarian Toymaker where you can find items that resemble handmade goods, and the creature stall which features an adorable lothcat in a cage. Kat Saka’s Kettle and Ronto Roasters are food options located in this area. Kat Saka’s has Outpost Mix, a popcorn snack, as well as the specially designed Coke products. Ronto Roasters specializes in “exotic meats”; as such there is no vegan option, but vegetarians will find the breakfast offering of Rising Moons Overnight Oats as well as some unique beverages, including black caf. You’ll also notice the pod racing engine which has been turned into a barbecue pit tended by 8D-J8, a smelter droid. Refreshers (restrooms) are located toward the entrance of the Marketplace.

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Felucian Garden Spread (lunch), Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo

Exiting the Marketplace area to your left you will find Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. Some items here are only served during lunch or dinner. We had lunch here; there is one vegetarian/vegan option, which is the Felucian Garden Spread: plant-based “kefta” served with herb hummus, tomato-cucumber relish, and pita. The kefta is actually Impossible meatless balls. This reminded me of an item I had at Epcot during the Festival of the Arts earlier this year, which was the farmhouse meatball with lentil bread, spinach, marinated vegetables, and creamy herb dressing. (Apparently, for dinner, the Ithorian Garden Loaf is available: plant-based “meatloaf”, roasted vegetable potato mash, and seasonal vegetables, with mushroom sauce. Edit, 09/07/19: Upon going back to the park recently, I noticed this item is not available and I can’t find it on the official menus either, yet people have had it in Disneyland.)

Directly across from Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo is Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. Looking for Jedi or Sith holocrons? How about Princess Leia’s classic white dress or Qi’Ra’s gold Crimson Dawn necklace? Kyber crystals? This is where you’ll want to go. The senate dress is actually relatively nice — I’m extremely familiar with the construction of that dress because I’ve made several for myself over the last 20 years, so I had to examine it. The belt is vinyl (somewhat thin) as are the silver medallions adorning it. The dress itself is the first commercially made version of this costume that does not have shoulder seams and has the correct open, u-shaped hood. Both of these features are simple details, but I appreciated them. If you don’t feel like making or commissioning this costume and you’re not going for an elite costuming group’s approval, this is a relatively inexpensive option as it is less than $200, but still fairly accurate.

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The Millennium Falcon!

Looking straight ahead from between Dok-Ondar’s and Docking Bay 7, you’ll see the Millennium Falcon herself, docked here at Black Spire Outpost! You may even catch a glimpse of Chewbacca and Rey, if you’re lucky. This is where you’ll find the queueing area for Smuggler’s Run. If the wait is longer, part of the queue is outside, however it is mostly located in the shade and has good airflow. It was pretty hot and sunny when I was there, but it really wasn’t too bad with all of the shade. Honestly, there are many places in Batuu to sit and rest outside of direct sunlight, which is really nice. (But you should still remember to wear sunscreen!) Just before you board the ship, you’ll meet Hondo Ohnaka and he has a job for you: you’ll be borrowing the Falcon from Chewie to pick up a shipment of Coaxium for Ohnaka Transport Solutions.

Boarding the Falcon feels very similar to walking down the ramp to board a plane. You will enter the ride in groups of six; if you do not have six people in your party, a single rider or two may be added. Yes: Smuggler’s Run has a single rider line! As you enter the ship, you’ll be handed a coloured card with your assignment: pilot, gunner, or engineer. The card also has brief instructions for your role and you will hand this in just before going on your mission. In this waiting area, you will see some familiar sights, such as the Dejarik table and as you await your turn, you’ll have a little bit of time to take some photos and just enjoy being in this iconic vessel.

I rode Smuggler’s Run twice. The first time I was the right pilot (that’s Chewie’s spot!) which controls the up/down motion of the ride. I also got to take us into hyperspace…TWICE! The left pilot (Han’s spot) controls the left/right motion of the ride. Piloting will work best with two people who can coordinate well together; this is a role that will take some practice to be good at! It also has the best view of the action. Behind the pilots are seated the gunners, and behind them, the engineers. On my second time on the ride, I was an engineer; this job is very easy — you will be responsible for repairing the ship by punching flashing buttons or flipping various switches. I completed my engineer role with 100% success. I didn’t play the gunner role yet, but their job is to help defend the ship against attacks, of course. Allegedly there is a manual option or an automatic option for this role, with the manual option being the harder one. The points you score in performing your role will factor into your experience within the Play Disney app once that is up and running. Of note as well, this ride does not dump you out in a gift shop!

Upon exiting Smuggler’s Run, you may want to go to Oga’s Cantina, which is located nearby. Note that you may need a reservation; Oga was not taking walk-ins on the day of my visit, so I was unable to check the place out. Oga’s is where you’ll catch up with Rex, our old friend from Star Tours, now working here as a DJ. I’m looking forward to trying several things here, especially the Toniray wine. As you pass between Oga’s Cantina and Dok-Ondar’s, you’ll see a First Order TIE Echelon fighter with the First Order Cargo Shop to your left. On the right almost directly across from the cargo shop is the Milk Stand. At the Milk Stand, you can try both green (Thala Siren) and blue (Bantha) milk! There are alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of this frozen beverage. The alcoholic green milk is blended with tequila and the blue milk is blended with rum. Both of the milks here are a plant-based blend of coconut and rice milks, so vegans and lactose free folks can freely enjoy! I tried both and both were delicious.

As you leave the area where the Milk Stand is located, you’ll pass by another Refresher location on your way toward the Droid Depot. This is where you can build your own custom astromech unit! You’ll also find various accessories for your little friend. Next door to the Droid Depot, you’ll find Savi’s Workshop where you can create a custom lightsaber or purchase one that’s already been completed. Note that both of these experiences may require a reservation! This will bring you back around to the area by Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities and you have now completed your loop around Black Spire Outpost.

During my visit, the Play Disney Parks app was not yet functional. Once the park is open and this feature is integrated, the app will transform into a datapad when you are on planet, allowing you to scan objects around the area, “hack” into droids, unscramble transmissions, and translate the languages such as the main Star Wars alphabet Aurebesh. You will be able to take “jobs” and choose your allegiance — will you stand with the Resistance, join the First Order, or decide to be a scoundrel out for your own personal gain? 

Galaxy’s Edge opens to the public on 29 August and the Rise of the Resistance ride opens on 5 December.

No Star Wars at SDCC.

SDDC Unofficial Blog reported yesterday that there will most likely NOT be a Rise of Skywalker panel at SDCC. This has not been corroborated by Lucasfilm at this time, but it certainly makes sense that Disney would want to save this for D23 Expo. I guess that is one less panel for me to worry about getting into Hall H for. I must admit that it is a little disappointing, being that it’s my first time attending The Big One.

While the convention schedule has not been released, we are in the midst of panel announcements almost daily lately, some more detailed than others. SDCC Unofficial Blog has a running list of announced panels here.

It seems safe to say that the next big Star Wars news should be at D23 Expo, which will take place from 23-25 August 2019.

Dawn of Skywalker.

dawnofskywalkerSo today, the official Star Wars Japan Twitter account posted that the title of Episode IX in Japan would be 『スター・ウォーズ/スカイウォーカーの夜明け』.  That would read, in Romaji: Sutaa Woozu Sukaiwookaa no Yoake. The title is not exactly the same as it is in English as it translates to Dawn of Skywalker rather than Rise of Skywalker. Naturally, this has a certain subset of nerds talking, just like there was fervent discussion over whether or not ‘Jedi’ in The Last Jedi was meant to be singular or plural.

I am by no means a native speaker of Japanese, but I did study it for two years in college while earning my Bachelor’s and I’ve tried to keep up my study since then by using several apps (more on that soon perhaps). The word 夜明け translates to ‘dawn’ , ‘breaking dawn’, or even ‘daybreak’; you get the idea. In this case, it would seem to indicate a new beginning. This makes sense, as this film is meant to serve as not only an end to the sequel trilogy, but to the Skywalker saga as well. Whether or not that also means that ‘Skywalker’ will become synonymous with Jedi (as another word to refer to a Force-user), I’m not sure, but that’s an idea that I have liked a lot and won’t be surprised if that is the case.

Finally: Episode IX Trailer and Title!

So back in December of last year, it seems I was partially correct: the first trailer for Episode IX was released at Star Wars Celebration Chicago. And so was the title, not unlike the trailer / title reveal of Revenge of the Sith back in 2005 at San Diego Comic-Con. Watch the brand new trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker below.

Speaking of SDCC, I will be attending this year for the first time! I’m so excited. And so far, it seems likely that there will be a Star Wars presence in Hall H and I hope that I’ll be able to get in. If they do have a panel in Hall H, it is likely to be where the second, full trailer would be revealed. If, for some reason, Disney pulls out of SDCC, then anything Star Wars and Marvel would then probably be moved to D23 in August.

I’m not going to try to analyze the trailer at this time as I need to think about it some more; I’m still decompressing from SWCC, which I just got home from. I am very intrigued by what the inclusion of Palpatine — and they are not shying away from admitting that he is somehow in the film — means for the story. They did say quite a while ago that this film will serve to close out both this trilogy and the saga as a whole. Can’t wait! The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters 20 December 2019.

Now: when is Star Wars Celebration Anaheim?

 

A Timeline of Star Wars Announcements, or: When Can We Expect a Title and a Trailer for Episode IX?

nineThere seems to be a lot of buzz on the interwebs today about the possibility of getting a trailer for Episode IX sometime this month and it got me thinking about the production timelines of the other two sequel films and when their announcements were made.

Episode VII began filming 14 May 2014. The film wrapped shooting in September. On 6 November 2014, the title of Episode VII is announced to be The Force Awakens. Post production on the film was completed sometime in August of 2015. The first trailer for the film debuted 28 November 2014. Tickets went on sale 19 October 2015 and The Force Awakens opened in theaters on 18 December 2018.

Episode VIII began shooting 15 February 2016 and completed filming in July. The title of Episode VIII was announced as The Last Jedi on 23 January 2017; debate on whether or not ‘Jedi’ is singular or plural ensues. The first railer for The Last Jedi was shown on 14 April 2017 at Star Wars Celebration Orlando (and I was in the room, still cannot believe), at the end of the panel about the film; the panel and trailer were also streamed live online. The Last Jedi wrapped post production in September 2017. Tickets went on sale 9 October 2017 and The Last Jedi was released in theaters on 15 December 2017.

Production on Episode IX has not yet wrapped; it began filming on 1 August and I believe it is supposed to complete in February. It is highly unlikely that Disney will release a trailer before the film is completed. Moreover, we just got a second Captain Marvel trailer and are expecting the first Avengers 4 trailer / title announcement pretty much imminently; apparently its release was delayed until this coming Friday morning.

All of this to say: I think we should expect a title announcement in mid-late January or the beginning of February, and I firmly believe that the first trailer will be released at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, much like the trailer for The Last Jedi. (No, I’m not just saying that because, again, I’m going to be there.) Episode IX will be released 20 December 2019.