I have now seen Rise of Skywalker, and it certainly is an ending. I appreciate how impossible the task was, to wrap up a 9 movie series (or 11 movies+countless other official Star Wars projects). No matter what road they took, at least 30% of the fans would hate it. They made their choices, they finished the story arc, and we can move on with our lives if we want.
Yeah, yeah I could get up on my critical high horse and complain about all the things in ROS and the SW series in general that I didn’t like. It’s easy to criticize (fun too!) but ultimately complaining about things leads to a bad vibe that I want less of in my life. Turn it around, and instead of emphasizing the negative, I’m going to celebrate the positive.
Fair warning though: these moments are being filtered through my particular way of seeing things, and they may have nothing to do with the original intent of the scene. So here we go with 5 of my favourite scenes.
#1: Restorin’ order with the Vader (Empire Strikes Back)
This scene defines Vader as I imagine him. He’s pleading with his son to join with him so that they can restore order to the galaxy. Not for personal reward, but for the good of the galaxy. This doesn’t mean that Vader isn’t evil. No no. He’s decided that the ends justify the means, and those means are villainous. But he believes (or tells himself, anyway) that the cost is worth paying, if it ends the chaos gripping the galaxy. What if he has spent years trying to persuade the Jedi to step in and end the chaos, only to watch them smugly stay un-involved as regular people suffer? What if, in desperation, he decided that the only way to end the chaos was to become a Sith Lord so that he could gain enough strength to kill the Emperor?
#2 Han knows the score (A New Hope)
Han. Shoots. First. Sorry Greedo, but he knew what you were going to do and that the only way to stay out of Jabba’s clutches was to blast your scaly ass from under the table. Han’s not big on the noble ideals of fair fights and honorable duels. He is a big fan of staying alive.
#3 Finn’s moment of clarity (The Force Awakens)
“This is wrong.” This is the sudden realization that Finn has, an epiphany that breaks the programming that has been brainwashed into him since childhood. The trouble is, it doesn’t all of the programming. He still believes that the First Order is unbeatable and omnipotent. He is caught in a crisis of identity. Finn is driven by the trauma he’s experienced and is reacting accordingly. He is terrified of them, and so he runs.
#4 Rey is nobody (the Last Jedi)
I loved this moment for a bunch of different reasons. The despair of learning that you are alone and disconnected from any sense of identity that comes from family is Dark Side seduction at its finest. It subverts the audience’s expectations and challenges them to think about what it would mean if Rey was a powerful nobody. The force does not care who your parents were. It also deflates the ‘divine right of kings’ motif of Force power, where only the elite families have a connection to the force. And it contrasts with Kylo Ren’s massive sense of entitlement due to his lineage.
#5 Rey and Kylo kick ass together. (The Last Jedi)
The fight in Snoke’s throne room, after the lumpy villain has been killed, is my very favourite lightsaber battle. It is visceral and raw. There is a complete absence of nonsense gymnastics. And the uneasy and uncertain alliance between Rey and Kylo is communicated clearly despite the lack of dialogue.
BONUS CONTENT- Your reward for reading the whole post!
My ranking of the Star Wars movies (except Solo because I have not gotten around to seeing it), from best to worst.
#1 The Last Jedi
#2 Empire Strikes Back
#3 The Force Awakens
#4 A New Hope
#5 Return of the Jedi
#6 Rise of Skywalker
#7 Rogue One
(this is a space to prepare myself for ranking the utter garbage that is the prequels. Ok, I think I’m ready)
#8 Attack of the Clones (Only positive is Natalie Portman in her sexy stormtrooper outfit)
#9 Phantom Menace
#10 Revenge of the Sith, a movie so bad that I will eventually write fan fiction with my version of events.