Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Froemming picked “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.”
The Movie: “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker”
Starring: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver
Director: J.J. Abrams
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) After Palpatine mysteriously returns, the Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 54 percent
MAKE IT STOP
THE FANBOYS SHRIEKED! After being angry about THE LAST JEDI not conforming to their inner thoughts on how STAR WARS should be, LUCAS FILM course corrected with the ninth and final installment of the SKYWALKER saga…
OPINION split down the middle. The FANBOYS claimed, quite stupidly, that it is WORSE than THE PHANTOM MENACE, which is (REDACTED) crazy talk! Others claim it is the best since EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, which is also an opinion straight from CRAZY TOWN, USA.
Stuck in between are two JOES from a frozen, barren planet called THE MIDWEST. Powered by the Snark Side of the Force and junk food, these two will debate whether this movie sucked, was great or was simply OK and bring back sanity to the discussion about a children’s movie series….
Froemming: It is kinda weird think that four years ago, we did a soft opening of the JOE-DOWN with “The Force Awakens.” And here we still are, snarking on movies and going strong. Hell, we’ve made a whopping $3.97 in that time from ad revenue, proving once again that we make poor life choices in how we make our income.
Anywho, it is time to hop back in the “Star Wars” machine and see if either of us enjoyed the final cap (LOL!) in the Skywalker saga.
Brown, while I make you believe I am dead, only to pop back in a few minutes, why don’t you give us your first thoughts on a franchise whose fans made me pretty much hate the whole thing?
Brown: I think “Star Wars” fans share two things in common with pro wrestling fans.
- The worst thing about them is they breed.
- I honestly think they enjoy ragging on the movies nowadays instead of, you know, enjoying something they have been invested in since childhood. Lord knows that’s what we do here on the JOE-DOWN.
Froemming: The only time we got toxic was “Fuller House.” I saw the belly of the beast reviewing that show.
Brown: Now was it just me in my eat-sleep-work-repeat lifestyle or did it seem like the hype for this one was a little subdued after “The Last Jedi?” I know “Solo” got a lot of (REDACTED) partly due to everyone’s burnout from the franchise, but did it extend to 2019?
Froemming: I was bored watching “Solo” mostly because “The Last Jedi” had come out a few months before, so I agree there was burnout there. Plus, the fans hated “The Last Jedi” because of some valid points, and some points so stupid I was surprised I didn’t see our president bullying the actress who played Rose on Twitter.
Brown: Election’s not until November, so there’s still time.
I remember enjoying “The Last Jedi,” but some of the vitriol I was seeing online had me very apprehensive about “Rise of Skywalker.”
Did that venom seep into my experience? We’ll get into that. But I’ll let Froemming lead off here while I enlist the help of a tiny man to tinker with my robot.
Froemming: Our opening crawl lets us know that Emperor Palpatine is alive, sending messages across the galaxy, reminding me that “Oh yeah, they killed Snoke. They need an antagonist.” Am I happy to see the Emperor back, sassy as ever? Yes and no. This is one thing I wish was foreshadowed in the other two movies, but because my suspicion is they were writing the movies as they went along, there was not an overall arc to this trilogy that held it together.
Is it a mess? Yes. A beautiful mess to me. Not one mention of intergalactic trade embargoes. No Jar Jar. No sand speeches. Could it have been better? Sure. But this is much more fun to watch than the (REDACTED) prequels.
Brown: OK, I’ll address this now: Emperor Palpatine’s mere existence in this movie is but a part of this movie’s biggest issue: There is no (REDACTED) consequences. Emperor died in the ‘80s? LOL JK, guys! Luke dead in “Last Jedi?” Nope, ghost father figure!
Froemming: Force Ghosts have been a thing since the very first movie. Obi-Wan talks to Luke as he is about to blow up the Death Star. Now the Emperor, that was pretty stupid. Makes Vader’s sacrifice at the end of “Jedi” kinda pointless.
Brown: Being a Jedi/Sith seems awful. You’re haunted by ghosts all the time. Well, I guess they’d be poltergeists since they seem like they can move physical objects like when Rey tries to throw her lightsaber in a fire.
Also, this movie’s plot revolves largely around a GPS device. My work life sometimes revolves around a GPS and my life doesn’t make for an interesting movie.
ALSO, after finding said GPS, which is a Sith GPS (spooky!!!), Kylo Ren comes face-to-face with the Emperor. Palpatine reveals that Snoke was a puppet that he used to control the First Order from the shadows. And there’s another clone in this lair in the Sith stronghold of Exegol.
I thought we were (REDACTED) done with clones after the prequels!
Now that I think about it, I enjoy the idea of Palpatine going all Howard Hughes, being a recluse and saving his urine in jars because of fears of Midi-chlorians infiltrating everything.
We also learn that these days, Princess Leia is training Rey in the Force. Because Luke went and sacrificed his life to save everyone and neckbeards got all bent out of shape about that. Makes me wish Carrie Fisher had lived to actually film any of this, because there are moments were you could tell it was just random footage of her from “Force Awakens” saying the most general statements. Really wish they would have given her that moment in the last movie to die and save everyone, it would have saved me this pretty awkward few minutes in the theater.
Brown: Yeah, as a whole, inserting Carrie Fisher came off all right. But I couldn’t help but stare intently in every Leia scene to see where it was fake, kinda like Paul Walker in “Furious 7.”
We all get the feels when Finn, Poe and Chewbacca are in the Millenium Falcon to pick up some intel that there’s a spy in the First Order. As dumb or cringy as moments and dialogue get in these movies, I’ll always be a sucker for a chase scene in space and a John Williams soundtrack.
Could be worse, after all. Could be a Randy Newman soundtrack.
The intel tells the resistance that Palpatine is on Exegol and that a wayfinder is needed to get there, apparently. Rey remembers that Luke had mentioned something in his notes about the wayfinder.
Now, with that said, did you get “Joker” vibes when Rey was opening Luke’s notes? I was expecting either a cutout of a naked woman to randomly show up or some sort of “Unibomber”-type manifesto. This was a man who lived alone and drank some rancid-looking milk from an alien through his later years.
Froemming: I did think of that, now that you asked. Also, Hermit Luke was great. Anyone who has gone through some (REDACTED) gets it.
Now, this movie throws a lot at us here. It was nonstop, which I liked because I often get bored watching movies in the theater. Being surrounded by people in the dark, my instinct is to find a reason to leave.
That said, this whole first part was almost too much hopping around. Hey, there is the sassy Emperor, now Rey is training, now my god they are at some hippie festival-planet looking for some Sith doodad (technical term). WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Brown: It was pretty much “Star Wars Goes to Burning Man.” Whether that’s the music festival or the island where Nic Cage wore a helmet of bees, I’ll let you be the judge.
They’re looking for the ship of a mercenary (or something) that is the last known location of the wayfinder. Also, the guy was the person who murdered Rey’s parents via informative dagger? I dunno. This movie does throw a lot of new ideas and exposition at us and that makes no sense to me. You had eight movies to build your world. Why are you adding a bunch more in your (alleged) final film?
Froemming: They at least covered the Force healing people with open wounds in “The Mandalorian,” thought that episode aired a day before this came out I think. But hey, it counts I guess.
Also, this movie would have been so much better with Baby Yoda.
So, the First Order has tracked them to Planet Phish, so they are now on the run again. Good thing the script put Lando here on the planet as well for convenience sake, huh?
Brown: Does anything of substance go away if Lando is not in this movie? You know, besides his sexual tension with every character Lando talks to? What can I say, the man is suave.
So the way the heroes are tracked down is because of the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren that was introduced in “Last Jedi.”
The interactions between Rey and Kylo Ren were, hands down, the best part of this movie for me (save for the end; we’ll get to it). Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver have great chemistry, which is still SO weird for a franchise that brought us Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman having emotionless conversations about loving the water and killing younglings.
Froemming: Hey, the original trilogy had chemistry!
Which should get this response from the Narrator!
Brown: You’re right. But the originals also had this.
Froemming: Yeah, they kissed in my clip too. Now you are making this feel like incest porn, you creep.
Anywho, Lando saves the day and helps our trio (it was nice seeing all of the characters working together in this one) find some ship in the desert with the doodad to lead them to Palpatine, which is he still in the Galactic Senate? I mean, everyone thinks he is dead, but if he is still alive, he has been shirking his government duties for almost four decades now.
Brown: Considering he’s an emperor, I think him ruling from the shadows was the only form of government. Doubt there’s a senate (or one that actually does something) when we’re in a monarchy.
Froemming: But Brown…
Brown: Screw it, I’m jumping way ahead here. Essentially, the galaxy is a monarchy because Palpatine has an heir: Rey.
We get clued in at this point when a group of Kylo Ren’s personal army captures Chewbacca with the dagger that just so happens to tell the location of the wayfinder. After Kylo Ren confronts Rey, the two exchange in a Force battle over the transport ship, which A. looks like a battle of Scanners, and B. Is kind of a cool nod to anyone who played “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.”
But while trying to bring down the ship and rescue Chewbacca, Rey shoots lightning out of her hands and ends up blowing up the ship.
There was a couple minutes where after Chewie “died,” I checked out of this movie like Jerry Seinfeld leaving Larry David’s performance of “The Producers.”
But, Chewie didn’t die because there are no consequences in this movie. As much as I would have hated it, that would have been a bold, respectable choice. And this movie didn’t do it.
Froemming: It is the first of two fakeouts I hated in this. We’ll get to that second one shortly, but what a waste there. There are times I felt this should have been called “Star Wars: Return of the Fan Service.”
Well, they now have a Sith dagger, which I think they found on the broken down ship. C-3PO can read the engravings on it, but is forbidden to translate Sith in what is probably the dumbest call the Rebellion ever made in their cover operation plans. So Poe wants them all to go to Kijimi, where he knows some people who will pop 3PO’s head open and force the translation from his smug, British head.
So they get there, all right, and Kijimi looks eerily like Seattle with all the raining and whatnot. I wonder if Max Rebo and his band went through a grunge phase while living on this planet. That’s a solo movie I would like to see. The Max Rebo Band’s “Dirt” album would be phenomenal.
Brown: You know what would have been the ultimate payoff for this franchise? If they got to Kijimi and the man who would help them extract the info from C-3PO was Lobot: the most random “Star Wars” character ever.
Froemming: Lobot is the best “Star Wars” character after Yoda. #Fact.
Brown: Porkins, man. Although there was a pudgy pilot in this movie who is modern-day Porkins. Of all the exposition in this movie, if that guy had mentioned his grandpa was Porkins, movie would be flawless.
Anywho, while Stormtroopers are barging into people’s homes looking for criminals like the space Nazis they are, Poe meets an old friend named Zorii Bliss, apparently, who looks like a tour musician for Daft Punk. And apparently Zorii is played by Keri Russell?!
Froemming: Gesundheit. You sneezed a bunch of nonsense up there.
Brown: Dude, Babu Frik, the little bitty dude who gets the message translated, he may be the greatest hero in the galaxy. Because he got C-3PO to shut up for, like, two minutes.
PLUS HE’S SO STINKIN’ CUTE!!!
Froemming: Not as cute as Baby Yoda.
Brown: Full disclosure: Haven’t watched “The Mandalorian” yet.
Froemming: So yeah, we get this farewell to 3PO because he isn’t going to have his memories anymore once they extract the translation. Except R2-D2 has a backup of his buddy’s memories?
MAKE A DAMN SACRIFICE MOVIE!
Brown: Right?! “Avengers: Endgame” gave us Black Widow. Show some balls, Disney. Oh wait, Rian Johnson tried to do something a little different with “Last Jedi” and Twitter/neckbeards complained so you better play it safe!
Froemming: Well, we know what happens when you go against the Disney Boss…
So now we get a rescue mission for old Chewbacca, because Rey senses he is alive with The Force.
Brown: I’m sure Rey is very motivated to make sure Chewbacca could be back home with his family for Life Day like in the holiday special.
Also, thanks for not making us review “The Star Wars Holiday Special,” Froemming.
Froemming: Now it has been a few weeks since I saw this, but during the rescue mission, Rey and Kylo do their Force Hookup™ thing and Kylo reveals to her that, yes, her parents were nobodies. But that Palpatine is her father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate. Wait, no, grandfather. Palpatine is her grandfather.
I liked it better when Rey didn’t have a blood connection to the past movies. I have my complaints about “The Last Jedi,” but the reveal that she is not connected to one of the old characters somehow was something I really liked.
Well, everyone gets caught and are to be executed. But we find the mole in the First Order. It was Hux! The ginger Brit who was always sniping at Kylo. Maybe if that had been setup in a previous movie, the payoff would have been better. With that sort of “I guess…” moment, maybe Hux’s grandpa is one of those CGI-added monsters from the special edition of “A New Hope.”
Brown: And Hux says that he doesn’t care who wins the war, he just doesn’t want Kylo Ren to win.
What the hell does that even mean? I get that that line sounds cool on a script but to have it uttered on film in this context hurts my brain.
Froemming: His motivation for that is much like Jerry’s when he is returning a jacket to a store.
Brown: Anyways, they escape and eventually end up on a planet in the Endor system where the remnants of the second Death Star crashed. It’s here where they’ll find the Sith wayfinder.
And, it turns out this planet is a haven for ex-Stormtroopers like Finn.
And I bring this up to segue into how much of a missed opportunity Finn was in this trilogy. He was our new Luke in the first movie. Then he got a little deemphasized and was featured in the casino storyline in “Last Jedi,” which is where that movie drags.
And here, Finn may as well be 3PO. He’s just kind of there. And when there’s a thread of a storyline of him being in love with Rey, it’s NEVER mentioned again. Heck, there seems to be chemistry with him and the leader of the ex-Stormtroopers, Jannah. And the movie does nothing with it. In his brief scenes with Rose, nothing.
My 2020 resolution: stay clean shaven so I’m never mistaken for a neckbeard that ruined any progress and risk-taking in “Star Wars” movies.
Froemming: It sucks Rose got sidelined in this movie. I liked her in the last one. But I mean, the relationship we all wanted Finn to have was with Poe. Wasted opportunity there, Disney.
I did like Rey wandering the ruins of the Death Star, down to the Emperor’s throne room where she finds the important thingamajig (technical term) that will lead her to her grandpa.
But not before Kylo randomly pops up and we get a breathtaking lightsaber fight that ends with Rey stabbing and nearly killing Kylo to death. I remember Leia doing something here, Wikipedia says she distracts Kylo or something and then she kicks the bucket.
All of Chewbacca’s friends are now dead.
Rey heals Kylo with her magic voodoo or whatever and then, realizing she is a danger to everyone, pulls an old Luke Skywalker and runs off to the old Jedi planet of Ahch-To.
Brown: Bless you.
Brown: When Rey was walking through the Death Star, you see all the old Stormtrooper helmets. Do you think those were the remains of all the contractors that died during its construction that Randall mentioned in “Clerks?”
Froemming: Personal politics goes a long way in contractors deciding a job, Brown. They knew the risk!
Brown: Still on Kef Bir, Kylo Ren had a moment with Ghost Dad, err, his dead dad Han Solo. At least Harrison Ford looks like he’s invested and isn’t going all “Blade Runner” narration on us.
Anywho, Han gives his son a pep talk that ol’ Ben Solo is still in there. And it seems to click for Kylo Ren, who chucks his lightsaber into the ocean.
Adam Driver is the MVP of this movie. All his scenes have gravitas since, you know, he and Rey are the only ones in this trilogy who got a story arc. It’s well done but frustrating that this good of storytelling wasn’t used in more parts of the movie.
Also, because we need some sort of Death Star in this movie, turns out the fleet of ships that Palpatine has waiting in Exegol have planet-destroying cannons. They blow up Kijimi, which, if we’re being honest, was probably the only bright lights that Seattle planet has ever come across in years. Although I bet after the movie ended, Kijimi came back together because this universe doesn’t allow things to stay dead.
Froemming: Well, Rey is now on Luke’s old planet, being miserable. She tries to toss her lightsaber into the ocean, but in a giant middle-finger to Rian Johnson, Luke’s grump ghost catches it tells her it is a very important thing and to not just throw it away.
Seriously, ruins one of my favorite parts of the last movie. I bet the neckbeard rejoiced. He gives Rey Leia’s lightsaber and says he trained her, but she sensed something bad in the future and stopped her training. This trilogy has taught us Luke is a bad teacher with the Force.
And he lifts his old X-Wing from the murky depths of the ocean so Rey can fly to Palpatine and end all of this madness. Why didn’t Rey lift it? I have no idea.
Brown: There’s no way that X-Wing is flying, right? Unless Force powers mean you’re instantly a mechanic. I didn’t know the Force allowed people to become healers in a “Final Fantasy” game until this movie, so what the (REDACTED) do I know? I just know there’s no Advanced Auto Parts for Rey to get the waterlogged ship a new battery.
Froemming: I assume it is salt water too, which would rust the hell out of that thing.
So she somehow fixes this X-Wing that has been submerged in salt water for probably a few decades and probably sounds like Uncle Buck’s car when she is flying it.
Brown: So I watched this movie on Sunday night. But during the day, I came across a YouTube video of a guy who bought a van from MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” that had been abandoned outdoors for four years and wanted to get it working again. Took that dude at least two days. A waterlogged X-Wing would need a little more time.
Froemming: Wait, why are you watching “Pimp My Ride” videos on YouTube?
Brown: Don’t tell me how to spend my personal time, you son of a bitch.
Froemming: Finn and Poe and the Resistance track Rey as she heads to face her grandfather, who is not only really (REDACTED) old at this point, but is hooked up to life support, is blind and his fingers are all burned up. I know he wanted to be immortal, but he should have found a way like the Highlander, not being basically a creepy looking blob of Play-Dough. Also, this calls back to Darth Plagueis the Wise, but that is prequel bull(REDACTED) so I don’t want to venture any further.
Anywho, his plan is for Rey to strike him down (this scene was almost exactly like the end of “Return of the Jedi,” at least Palpatine’s lines were) so he can possess her body and be a sassy woman Emperor. Which, I mean, is creepy that he wants to be his granddaughter, right?
Brown: Yeah, I didn’t feel comfortable with Palpatine trying to “Child’s Play” his granddaughter.
When Rey arrives at Exegol to confront Palpatine, two thoughts ran through my head. A. After this and “It 2,” I am over final battles ending in dimly-lit caves with a bunch of blue strobe lights. B. This may as well be “Star Wars Episode IX: OK Boomer.” Palpatine may as well be a Fox News-watching grandpa and Rey is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, turning her back to her war-mongering grandpa.
So when Rey went to Exegol, she relayed the path to the Resistance and now they’re going to take the fight to the Final Order. And it’s… not going well UNTIL Lando shows up with reinforcements from around the galaxy to (allegedly) end this war after, what, five decades?
Froemming: As things are going bad, Palpatine shows Rey this and the only way to end it is if she kills him so he can become her, which sounds like something a serial killer would say to their victims.
But Kylo shows up! And the Emperor sucks the life out of them, like everyone’s racist grandpa talking about what he saw on Fox News. This new life force allows Palpatine to become a spry 90-year-old instead of the 118-year-old he was just minutes before! And then he shoots Force Lighting to the heavens and ignores what happened the last time he didn’t pay attention to what was going on around him during a battle.
Rey rises, and like a schizophrenic, she hears all these voices in her head telling her to do things. These are all the old Jedi we have seen in film and TV, from Yoda to Samuel L. Jackson to Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor, all these voices tell her to do the Jedi Thing: Murder an old man.
Brown: This movie would have been redeemed if Samuel L. Jackson told Rey “Get up, motha(REDACTED)!” Unfortunately, Sam didn’t channel his inner Jules.
Froemming: “There’s too many mother(REDACTED) Force Ghosts in this mother(REDACTED) brain!”
Brown: So before Palpatine can kill his granddaughter, Rey fights back with the lightsabers of Luke and Leia and kills the Emperor with his own lightning. It also kills a bunch of what I assume is ghost Sith in this underground stadium. For allegedly being for good, a Jedi did just commit genocide.
The fight has left Rey lifeless, but there’s still some redeemin’ to do for Ben Solo! So he does the whole Jedi healing thing that was never a part of the older movies and revives Rey. No consequences!
And then, they kiss. And that kind of bummed me out. Why not have a time where, yeah, maybe they like each other but the stakes are too big to worry about romance?
Plus, you know, you’re kissing a space Nazi, Rey. Not cool.
Froemming: Hey, Trump said there was very fine people on both sides of the Rebellion!
Well, the kiss seems to kill Ben Solo, as he vanishes after this. The Star War has finally been won I guess, though I am upset I didn’t see this guy say the titular line in any of these movies.
Well, Rey heads to Tatooine, where all this started with a young boy screaming “Yippee!” a lot. Except she doesn’t go to Anakin’s old home, but Luke’s old place, where apparently the Jawas didn’t steal anything after Uncle Ben and Aunt Beru were shot to death for buying the wrong Droids all those years ago. There she buries Luke and Leia’s lightsabers for some weird reason, as I don’t think Leia had many fond memories of that planet of being Jabba the Hutt’s slave. Rey sees Force Ghosts of the two siblings and thankfully not a young Anakin like we saw in the special edition of “Return of the Jedi.” And we see she has her own lightsaber now, with a yellow blade, which looks odd.
And that is it. That is the (LOL) end of the Skywalker saga. Until Disney decides to make more, which I mean, who knows (they will).
Brown: The final line of the movie has Rey calling herself Rey Skywalker. What a colossal (REDACTED) you to her parents that spared their lives to protect her from the Emperor as a child.
Froemming: So she should have stayed “Rey Palpatine?” How many people with the last name Hitler do you see out there?
Brown: How about do some research and find out your parents’ name. Or, do what you did before and say “Just Rey.”
Froemming: Why not “Rey Solo” or “Rey Rebo” or “Rey Yoda?”
Brown: Rey Akbar. Rey Lobot!
Froemming: We can talk about her last name for hours, but I don’t want too. Let’s hop onto our speeder bikes and head to recommendations.
Would You Recommend?
Froemming: Yeah. it is a fun, beautiful mess of a movie, but I say check it out.
Brown: Look, I just spent two-plus hours ragging on this movie. And there is a litany of problems. It’s one of the lesser “Star Wars” movies. But I’d still recommend it because I was entertained for almost the entire movie. It’s an entertaining mess.