“The Garbage Will Do”

Andrew Fu, Editor-in-Chief

In the barren Jakku desert, a scavenger and an ex-stormtrooper sprint towards a quadjumper, dodging a barrage of blast fire from Tie Fighters. But the quadjumper, their means of escape, explodes under a torrent of enemy fire. Only a cheap, junky ship is left. “The garbage will do,” Rey yells as she runs towards that ship, but little does she know that she’s actually describing the newest and final installment in the Skywalker Saga. The Rise of Skywalker is that cheap junky ship, except that ship’s the Millenium Falcon⁠—the fastest ship in the galaxy. As Han Solo once said, “It may not look like much, but it’s got it where it counts”. And that’s exactly what this movie is⁠—a decently satisfying end to an okay trilogy, plagued by both good and bad moments, with amazing first half and an atrocious CGI-trashfest in the end. It doesn’t feel like much if you went into this movie expecting to hate it, but there’s a ton of powerful scenes, callbacks to previous films, and awesome visuals for fans of all ages. If you kept an open mind, you probably liked some parts, if not the entire thing. And considering how much The Last Jedi disrupted Director JJ Abrams’ plans for the entire trilogy, the people at Lucasfilm did the most they could to fit a compelling finale into a two hour thirty-minute flick that hardcore fans and mainstream audiences could understand. Forget that philosophical nonsense about midichlorians and strap yourselves in for a space adventure!

Watching this movie just by itself and not comparing it to the prequels or original trilogy, the character interactions were pretty solid. Rey, Finn, and Poe have a lot of compelling moments that show audiences of their shared history offscreen. The trio bicker, work together, and look out for each other, giving audiences a good sense of their friendship. When Poe crashes a damaged Falcon back on the Resistance base after lightspeed jumping, the two exchange friendly banter. Rey grills him about the ship’s broken hyperdrive while Poe grumbles about Rey damaging BB-8. Their lines are witty, quippy, and you get a sense that they’re well-acquainted with each other. Considering the fact that Rey and Poe had only just met at the end of the last movie, playing this off convincingly was quite difficult and masterfully done. 

Undoubtedly the best part of the movie was Kylo’s transformation back to Ben Solo, and the movie was able to pull this off by bringing back Han Solo. Killing Han was Kylo’s major step into the dark side, and it would be difficult for audiences to accept Kylo turning back to the light without a good reason. Revenge of the Sith, as good as it was, did a poor job of portraying  Anakin’s turn to the dark side, which was sudden and out of character. One moment he’s consoling his wife, the next he’s murdering kids. But this movie got Kylo Ren right. The guy’s killed thousands of people, even his own father. How do you redeem someone like that? Having Han forgive Ben and tell him everything was okay was the best way to handle Ben’s transformation and more importantly, to convince audiences of his turn. 

The movie tried to satisfy fans as much as they could with a decent amount of fan service, but not so much that it was distracting or held the movie back. Old faces such as Wedge Antilles, and legendary music composer John Williams made small cameos that only eagle-fanned fans could catch, but there were more obvious references that were powerful and moving. Watching Luke lift his Red Five X-wing out of the watery depths of Acht-tu with Yoda’s theme playing in the background, I had a huge dumb smile on my face. Watching Kylo Ren mimic Han Solo’s body language, from shushing people with a finger to a cocky shrug, solidified his place as the smuggler’s son. But the biggest surprise was definitely the voices of the Jedi all coming out to guide Rey on her quest against Palpatine. While giving the Jedi a larger role in the movie would have been amazing to see, it would have taken away from the story about Rey, Finn, and Poe, which is what the new trilogy has been about. We’re already well-acquainted with the Jedi, and having them in it would hurt the new trio’s arcs, making them background characters in their own movie. What we had of the Jedi was great, and it was enough. 

Overall, Star Wars Episode 9 was a decent end to an average trilogy. Whether you liked The Last Jedi or hated it, there’s no doubt that Episode 8 severely disrupted Abrams’ plans for Episode 9, and much of this movie was done retconning The Last Jedi. This movie’s downfall was bringing in too many characters and choosing not to focus on existing characters so that the movie felt very bloated and disjointed. Zori Bliss and Jannah were unnecessary additions that were only there to help the sequel trio get from one objective in their quest to the next. Replace Zori with Lando and take out Jannah, and things wouldn’t change too much. Heck, it would even make Lando’s presence in the story more meaningful, as his shady history as a smuggler would fit well with mind-wiping 3PO. Overall, the movie was decent given what Lucasfilm had to work with. I would watch it again, but then again, I’ve watched every Star Wars movie at least five times, even the ones with Jar Jar, so my standards are pretty low.