Return of the Jedi (1983): I See the Good

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is day 6 of 7 in 7 Days of Star Wars, and today we will be finishing the original trilogy reviews! We’ve already talked about 1977’s “Star Wars,” 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back,” so by process of elimination, it only makes sense that today we talk about 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” When it comes to “Star Wars,” my childhood was quite a weird one. Because regarding the original trilogy, I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” first, and I ended up watching “Return of the Jedi” before “A New Hope.” But then again, I was of single-digit ages and I did not care what order I watched these movies in as long as things moved on a screen. But as an adult, much like the other two films in the original trilogy, I should note that as I picked up certain things and opened my imagination a little more, my appreciation for “Return of the Jedi” only grew. We will dive into this during the review.

It is time for the penultimate entry to the epic Scene Before saga, a miniseries I’m calling… 7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!

“Return of the Jedi” is directed by Richard Marquand and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz. This film is the final installment in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. Taking place one year after the end of “The Empire Strikes Back,” our heroes journey to Jabba’s Palace to retrieve Han Solo, who has previously been frozen in carbonite. After a daring adventure, the rebels are tasked with destroying a second Death Star, this time set above the moon of Endor, where tiny, furry creatures known as Ewoks reside.

Okay… When it comes to the original trilogy, I was excited to talk about “A New Hope.” I was arguably even more excited to talk about “The Empire Strikes Back.” But after watching “Return of the Jedi,” I think I became absolutely freaking stoked to talk about what I saw. Much like quite a few other movies in this 7 Days of Star Wars series, I have watched this film countless times on physical media and television. So this should already tell you what I think of this movie.

I will be straight up with you. Regardless of what I think about “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” both of which are technically beautiful and marvelously written masterpieces, I’d say that “Return of the Jedi” had the biggest impact on me of the three original films. Some of my best memories of watching “Star Wars” as a kid harken back to some of my earliest viewings of “Return of the Jedi.” It is a film that I would stop every once in a while to watch when it is on TV too. To this day, I can say that like some of my favorite films, which I will not list for the sake of time, this is a film that gets better the more I watch it. But I will say, and this won’t affect my score, it is probably by far the worst of the “special editions” between Jedi Rocks, the odd-looking CGI creatures in Jabba’s Palace, and Darth Vader’s “no” scream towards the end of the film.

Let’s dive into the tone of the movie, but before we do, I want to point out to those who are not in the know, to me, “A New Hope” is a lighthearted space adventure. “The Empire Strikes Back” maintains a lot of elements that made “A New Hope” great but also dives into a route of depression to give itself a new flair. “Return of the Jedi,” is honestly somewhere in between. It has the lightheartedness and excitement of “A New Hope,” not to mention a Death Star, but also some darkness that you’d find in “The Empire Strikes Back.” We see our heroes’ journeys and where they have led to at this point. Many of the characters we have come to know in the previous films maintain their admirability and charisma here in this installment. In fact, remember how in the other two films in the trilogy, I mentioned Luke Skywalker was a whiner? Not anymore! He’s a Jedi Knight now, not to mention one of the most badass individuals in the galaxy. He’s got a green lightsaber, which probably helped sell more toys for a period of time. From the first scene he’s in, I have gotten the sense that I DO NOT want to f*ck with Skywalker. He just steps into Jabba’s Palace, walks up to a couple guards and chokes them. It is a truly bold sight for the eyes. “Return of the Jedi” easily has the most likable version of Luke because he is still a great pilot like he was in the previous two films, but now he has gone from occasional whiner to… sorry, I literally have no other definition that could be better… guardian of the galaxy.

Speaking of Jabba’s Palace and other similarities to “A New Hope,” we get to see early scenes in the film exclusively with R2-D2 and C-3PO, and the first sight we get of the iconic duo in the film is of them walking to Jabba’s Palace and seeing if they can get in. Much like “A New Hope,” this is a very well done, not to mention wonderfully placed scene because it lets the movie kick off in an intimate manner and it overall just builds up, getting bigger by the second. “Return of the Jedi” understands that we got to start small before we go big. Plus the droids themselves have amazing chemistry. They’re almost like two roommates who barely have anything in common but the things they do have in common, which is very little, perhaps makes them inseparable.

I also really like the Rancor fight. It felt like a strategy video game where Luke had to learn the tricks of the boss as he went along. It’s not like he was just able to find its weaknesses straight up and go for the kill. He had no choice but to open his eyes and his mind. It was rather exciting to watch. Only thing is, and I know this is somewhat intentional, the lighting in some clips of it is rather dark, I feel like turning up the light just a tad would have had me as a viewer look back and not feel lost in that underground space. Then again, that may have been the intention.

But speaking of brightness, let’s talk about the Sarlacc Pit scene. It is to this day, one of the most exciting and fun “Star Wars” scenes to date. First off, the music in it, unsurprisingly smashed by John Williams, is incredible from the slow build up to the glorious blow that brings us into the iconic “Star Wars” theme tune that you hear either in the crawl or the credits. It just screams “Star Wars” whenever I think about it. There’s a lot going on here between Luke trying to retrieve his lightsaber from R2, who is busy serving drinks, Leia being chained by Jabba’s side, and… Boba Fett? Wait, where’d he go? Oh, that’s right. Yeah, he comes and goes instantaneously. Well, kind of, depending on whether you’re watching “The Mandalorian,” which I do need to catch up on. But this is a fast-paced scene from gunslinging to saber-wielding to chain-honking. Lando is there too, and there is some action between him and Han. Everything building up to the final blow at the end led to a sense of satisfaction.

Let’s move onto Dagobah. Going back to what I said about this film getting better the more I watch it. I do not just mean it gets better despite its age. Although like the other two films in the original trilogy, I can declare “Return of the Jedi” is timeless. There is a quote that I picked up from Yoda during the film.

Now I am just gonna warn everyone, even though I did not get into heavy spoilers for “The Empire Strikes Back,” this quote does contain an important point from the film, and I’m sure it is one a lot of you know even if you missed out on the movie. So sorry in advance as this does dive into spoiler territory.

Luke: Master Yoda… is Darth Vader my father?

Yoda: [avoiding the subject] Rest I need. Yes. Rest.

Luke: Yoda, I must know. If you know, tell me.

Yoda: Your father he is.

[pause]

Yoda: Told you, did he?

Luke: Yes.

Yoda: Unexpected this is. And unfortunate.

Luke: Unfortunate that I know the truth?

Yoda: No! Unfortunate that you rushed to face him… that incomplete was your training. That… not ready for the burden were you.

Not only does this confirm the exciting twist from the previous film, but it goes a step further. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” you may remember that Luke was discouraged by Yoda from going into Cloud City to confront Vader. Luke went regardless of the advice, but he did promise that he would return, as he did in this very film. While I will agree that it is unfortunate to know that Luke’s father is a power-hungry half man half machine overlord who is capable of chopping off hands, Yoda just states that Luke rushed into action without thinking things through, even though Luke foresaw grave danger for his friends. Not only were his skills incomplete, but he had no idea what would lie ahead in regards to emotional attachment. I often look back at “The Empire Strikes Back” and I think of the scene where Yoda tells Luke to avoid going to Cloud City as a warning that Luke’s skills as a Jedi still need work, which they did. But little did I realize after all these years, Yoda, along with ghost Obi-Wan, was likely trying to protect Luke from losing control of his emotions. After all, they knew who Darth Vader was. They knew he was Luke’s father. Yoda took Luke under his wing and not only treated him like a student, but almost as if he was his own son. And like many parents, Yoda perhaps became slightly overprotective of Luke’s inner and outer thoughts.

I will also add, that last line from Yoda, where he notes Luke’s training was incomplete, this feels like the “Star Wars” way of saying, “I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.” Luke, despite his seemingly on track instincts, had no idea what he was in for. That is the power of being an inexperienced Jedi who barely has any attachment to the force. Yes, Luke did screw up. But part of me also wants to think that even with the amount of doubt that could have been brought to the table, Yoda, or perhaps even ghost Obi-Wan had an inkling of faith in him.

Not long after we see plans for a second Death Star, our heroes go to the moon of Endor, where we get a FUN speeder chase between Luke and Leia who are trying to keep themselves from getting shot by Stormtroopers. There’s no music. No other sounds except for the speeders themselves. It feels like the extreme version of riding a bike in the woods. But of course, when I talk about Endor, I have to talk about the Ewoks.

I have seen people talk about the Ewoks and how they tend to be annoying. I even remember watching “Ride Along 2” of all movies and the characters were talking about “Star Wars” and one character said they enjoyed “Return of the Jedi” to which another pointed out how annoying Ewoks are. Here’s the thing. Unlike Jar Jar, the Ewoks actually come off as useful. Yes, they emit weird sounds every once in a while, but it’s a delightful kind of weird. They have their own army, they’ve become civilized in the woods, and the movie does a really good job at highlighting their sense of community. When it comes to the final battle at the end of the film, seeing them get creative with how they go about killing troopers is nearly goofy, but also kind of exciting. Plus, we do get to see them, along with the wookie Chewbacca in an AT-ST, which was pretty badass. But to me, this movie’s second half comes in three tiers. These tiers, starting with the lowest and going to highest, are “awesome,” “extraordinary,” and “perfect.”

The “awesome” tier goes to the Battle of Endor, where we get to see our heroes on the ground fighting troops with the Ewoks and destroying a base that has an effect on how the “extraordinary” tier task goes, which is destroying the Death Star.

If the space battle at the end of “A New Hope” was exciting, then the one in “Return of the Jedi” is SUPER exciting. I will admit, it does suffer from not having Luke in it because I admittedly have become much more attached to Luke compared to Lando, who is a great character, but not as involved in the franchise as Luke has become. Then again, Luke’s off doing something else which we’ll get to momentarily. This battle has a ton of ships on the light and dark sides. We get to see the Death Star blowing ships up. People are dying left and right. And what makes this even more interesting is that the outcome of this battle could not be realized unless the Battle of Endor likely ends up going in the heroes’ favor. But BY FAR the best part of the movie, is any scene between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor.

I want to avoid giving a ton of spoilers for this review. In fact I had a whole thing planned to talk about one particular problem I had with the film. It’s NOT A BIG ONE, it does not even affect the score that much, but it makes want to see another version of the film if you will. Let’s just say, if I have the time, I may end up doing a separate post on it. The thing I will say about it is that it is about death. But that is about it. Luke and Vader meet in Endor, they flock to the Death Star, where the Emperor introduces himself to Luke and looking back, this provided for some of my favorite close-up shots in the franchise.

I mean, look at the Emperor’s face!

And the Emperor, at least in this film, has such a way with words. It’s almost like he spent an extended period of time studying poetry.

The Emperor : You want this, don’t you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your Jedi weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant.

Luke : No.

The Emperor : It is unavoidable. It is your destiny. You, like your father, are now *mine*.

I cannot think of a time in this franchise, maybe with the exception of Palpatine perhaps doing the same wordplay thing to Anakin and maybe Count Dooku getting into that same character’s head, where words have been used so effectively as a weapon. Plus that voice… It’s so grizzly and old. IT IS PERFECT. This is quite literally, the “perfect” tier. And this is in addition to the badass lightsaber stuff that goes down at the end, which I really don’t want to talk about because even though “Return of the Jedi” has been around for 38 years, it’s kind of like “The Empire Strikes Back.” The less newcomers know, the better. I’ll just say this, I often talk about in the prequels how one of the better things about those movies is the choreography in the lightsaber fights. That is true. That is clear. But in “Return of the Jedi,” there feels like there is a reason to occasionally have a lack of choreography. It shows more of the emotion between characters. The final lightsaber duel of the movie feels rough. It feels tough. But the strokes that come out from one specific individual just feel like they are coming through because of pent up emotion. This is, well… perfect.

I want to talk about the thing that happens afterwards, I really do. But it involves heavy spoilers. If you have never seen “Return of the Jedi,” PLEASE watch it. If you want to avoid spoilers… Skip this next paragraph. Go to the part that IS NOT italicized like so.

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My favorite part of the film comes around the time Luke slices off Vader’s hand. BAM! Hammurabi Code! Almost like payback for the last movie! This may have been part of why the original title for this film was “Revenge of the Jedi,” until it was changed at the last minute. But the Emperor tries to convince Luke to join the Dark Side, to which he just denies the request after looking at Vader on the ground. At this point, the Emperor’s a little pissed and disappointed, he casts out his hands and unleashes force lightning, which has been used in the prequels by multiple characters, but “Return of the Jedi,” in terms of release, was the movie introduction to the force lightning concept. He continues his wordsmith tendencies, and he just goes all out on Luke. The hero is screaming for his life, he’s going to Vader asking for help. But no dice.

“Now young Skywalker, you will die.”

We have a brief beat, but the Emperor ain’t done yet because he momentarily unveils more lightning and Luke is just screaming and spasming. He has never been in so much rapid physical pain in his entire life. But the other great part about this is that the camera is getting shots of Vader and we can tell based on the directions he turns his head, he’s almost conflicted. But he decides to do the right thing and lifts the Emperor from the ground and throws him down the shaft. The Emperor perhaps lets out the most epic death scream in film history, and he is just TOAST. Why did “The Rise of Skywalker” bring him back from this? Who knows? But it is not over. Because Luke and Vader reunite, just experiencing whatever sense of relief they need to. Unfortunately for Vader, the journey does not end well for him.

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People often argue that the later additions to the sequel trilogy, specifically “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker,” feel like nothing more than pieces of course correction. They take what was previously shown in the last movie and try to divert from it to a degree hopefully going in a competent direction, perhaps one that the primary filmmaker or producer prefers, that will not end up being a slap in the face (hopefully). While there are definitely many ideas that felt like they could have been sprinkled in later into production, “Return of the Jedi” is the end of a trilogy that feels perfectly planned and realized from start to finish. The original “Star Wars” trilogy is up there to me with “Lord of the Rings” and “Toy Story” as one of the greatest trilogies of all time. And at the same time, there may have been some course correcting here. This movie feels a lot lighter than “The Empire Strikes Back,” especially with the Ewoks in the mix. So part of me wondered if Lucas wanted to win some fans back by making the series “fun” again. He even brought back the Death Star concept, which despite being in “A New Hope,” did not feel entirely repetitive. And ultimately, the darkness of “The Empire Strikes Back” still exists here in some places, but the mix between the light and dark tones oddly enough never felt out of place or disorienting. They’re two tones that combine together to form something special, whereas “The Phantom Menace” had a plethora of tones to combine together to form something… well, it’s special alright. What an ending. Well, kind of. Before the prequels and the sequels, but my gosh this movie is a work of art!

In the end, I often have trouble deciding which of the original “Star Wars” movies is my favorite. Is it “A New Hope?” “The Empire Strikes Back?” Or is it “Return of the Jedi?” They’re all great for different reasons. But of all of the movies, I’d say “Return of the Jedi” had the best climax and conclusion, which really says something because this is something that the “Star Wars” franchise, even on its worst day, at least goes out of its way to make “fun.” Here, they just go balls out with it. Three different interweaving storylines that do not feel convoluted and I actually care about. Each one is about as thrilling as the last. From the heroes and Ewoks taking down troops on Endor to the Rebels and Empire duking it out in space to Vader and Luke dealing with their father and son issues in the Death Star. This film has the best interpretation of Luke. It comes with great chemistry amongst our heroes. And on top of that, the best lightsaber action of the original trilogy. LIGHTSABERS. ARE. AWESOME. You cannot convince me otherwise. With all this, and considering this film’s insane replay value over the years, I’m going to give “Return of the Jedi” a 10/10!

Would ya look at that? All three films in the original trilogy have earned a 10! These films truly are timeless. I will say once again, there is one particular “problem” with the film I wanted to discuss, but I won’t for the sake of spoilers. It won’t affect my score, but I may bring it up another time. Once again, it has to do with death. I do not know my fate regarding this topic, but if I am ever in the mood, I will discuss it.

Thanks for reading this review! Just a few days ago we have finished the prequel trilogy, and now we finished the original trilogy, which means it is time to move on to the SEQUEL trilogy! For the record, I have already reviewed “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker,” so we will not be talking about those films. By process of elimination, tomorrow I will have my review up for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens!” Disney’s first foray into the world of “Star Wars” movies and one of the most successful films of all time at the box office. What do I think of it? You’ll find out tomorrow in the FINAL installment of 7 Days of Star Wars! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and also like the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Return of the Jedi?” What did you think about it? Also, two questions. First, what is your favorite movie in the “Star Wars” original trilogy? AND, what do you think is the greatest trilogy of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/26/star-wars-1977-an-ageless-adventure/

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/27/the-empire-strikes-back-1980-i-love-you/

ROGUE ONE: https://flicknerd.com/2016/12/16/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-a-movie-built-on-hope/

THE LAST JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2017/12/15/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-2017-another-year-another-star-wars-movie/

SOLO: https://flicknerd.com/2018/05/25/solo-a-star-wars-story-2018-somehow-this-star-wars-movie-exists/

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: https://flicknerd.com/2019/12/20/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-2019-the-final-word-in-the-story/

The Empire Strikes Back (1980): I Love You

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Today is day 5 of 7 in the epic Scene Before 7 Days of Star Wars saga! We have finished the prequels earlier this week, we just tackled the original “Star Wars” yesterday, but now it is time to move onto what some consider to be not just one of the best “Star Wars” movies to date, but one of the greatest sequels of all time. Of the original “Star Wars” films, this is actually the first one that I tuned into. I still remember renting the widescreen copy of the 2004 edition from Blockbuster Video. Man, I miss that place. I rented the film one or two more times, until I finally got the full screen 2006 edition that came with both the 2004 special edition of the film and a bonus disc that had a somewhat poorly mastered DVD transfer of the original film. While it was widescreen, allowing the viewer to see more picture, it was also grainy and would not adjust for an actual widescreen television. Although for this review, much like Episodes IV and VI, I decided to use the most up to date versions of the film through recent 4K Blu-ray transfers that have released in stores in 2020. Safe to say, this film looks gorgeous to this day, and of all the “Special Editions,” I’d say that this one is the least offensive, although that statement will likely not have much of an effect on my review.

We would be honored if you would join us, because it is time for a miniseries I’m calling… 7 DAYS OF “STAR WARS!”

“The Empire Strikes Back” is directed by Irwin Kershner and stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz. This film is the sequel to 1977’s “Star Wars” and follows our heroes who have a base on the planet Hoth. But not for long, because the Empire takes its swift strokes on the rebels. Soon thereafter, Luke Skywalker journeys to Dagobah to learn the ways of the Jedi under the wing of Master Yoda. Meanwhile, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO flee from the dark forces on the Millennium Falcon, but with an unfortunate hyperdrive problem.

Since 1977, “Star Wars” has become a part of many people’s lives. Similar to 1975’s “Jaws,” the film went on to become one of the biggest phenomenons of the decade. The turnout was enormous, the box office was immense, the force was with everyone. Characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo have been ingrained in many people’s minds for extended periods. While the film itself is a throwback to stories that may have come before and shares many of the traits of the ordinary “hero’s journey” rubric, it comes with a flavor that could have arguably been created by Willy Wonka. “Star Wars” has, as you may have noticed, become one of the most acclaimed and iconic films of all time. With a film that good, it is almost hard to imagine how they could have made a sequel that could have surpassed it.

…Well they did.

To know that such a feat could be pulled off is utter insanity. I mean, it’s been done in similar instances with other franchises. The first “Godfather” was critically acclaimed, but today there are many people who would argue the second one is as good, if not better than the original. The same can be said for “Toy Story.” The same can also be said for “Blade Runner.” Maybe even “The Terminator!” In the case of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the reasoning is simple. It maintains the fun of the original film despite being darker in tone, it builds on the characters we’ve come to know and love with impactful depth, and it subverts expectations, which feels weird considering how “The Last Jedi” tried doing that to rather poor results. Although speaking of “The Last Jedi,” I remember when that film came out and people started bringing up comparisons to “The Empire Strikes Back,” but not for a positive reason. When “The Last Jedi” came out, I would occasionally be online, maybe on YouTube or something and someone would say that “The Last Jedi” is a film that will get better with age. When it came out, it was incredibly divisive. The fans of the film were quite passionate, and so were the haters. But nevertheless, “The Last Jedi,” despite being well-reviewed, had a strong number of people who felt it ruined the “Star Wars” franchise to a degree. Back in 1980, “The Empire Strikes Back” received the same treatment. There were people who liked the film. But there were also others who expressed displeasure or disappointment with it mainly because of how dark and not so fun it happened to be.

Today, it is one of the most universally revered films in not just the sci-fi genre, but in all of movie history. It has one of the most talked about twists of all time. Despite being darker, I’d almost argue it not only knows how to crack a joke here and there, it is actually somehow funnier than the first one. And this feels weird to say, because when I’m looking back at lines I could bring up on the spot to make someone laugh, I do not usually think of “The Empire Strikes Back,” but that’s because the film does not try to go for humor. What it does is it takes lines that usually would not mean anything. The lines are not even that funny, but in the context of the film, they can get a laugh out of me for some reason. A line as simple as Han Solo’s “Never tell me the odds” is chuckle-worthy to say the least. Leia shouting “I am not a committee” feels like it could come out of only Carrie Fisher’s mouth with pristine delivery.

Speaking of characters, let’s talk about Luke Skywalker. I mentioned in my review for “A New Hope,” one forgivable concern for Luke is that he is kind of a whiner. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” the case is no different. But like in the previous film, Luke’s tendency to be a downer is also what makes him an interesting character. Because again, he is relatable. As humans, we all have a tendency to say we want do something, but we never end up actually doing “that something” and it is an idea that is always in the back of our minds. During Luke’s training with Yoda, we see glimmers of this as he lifts rocks and his X-Wing fighter that is stuck in the dirty water. There’s periods of refusal, self-denial, lack of confidence. It is a perfect encapsulation of a student/mentor relationship where the student feels like they are worthless and they cannot advance in their studies. In the last movie, we got see the pilot side of Luke, and that has been excellently built up throughout the film all the way to the end. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” we get to see more of the Jedi side of the character. And yes, we get to see parts of that in “A New Hope” too, but that is Luke simply learning how to use the force, he barely touches a lightsaber. Although it does help him in his piloting mission where he is tasked along with his rebel fleet to destroy the Death Star. But now that Obi-Wan is dead and likely just sitting back in the Jedi afterlife needing nobody’s company, he commands that Luke will go to Dagobah and learn the ways of the Jedi from Yoda. Oh yeah, and Yoda is awesome in this film.

Let me just say, I really like the prequel version of Yoda. But here is the thing about prequel Yoda, he is quite different than the original Yoda. Because in the prequels, Yoda is seen as one of the most powerful Jedi with one of the higher midichlorian counts and an enormous sense of wisdom. Also, screw midichlorian counts. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” we got to see that wisdom intact, but it does not take away from the fact that Yoda is one of the funniest characters in the original trilogy. Remember how in the prequel trilogy George Lucas tried to make Jar Jar Binks the big comic relief that stole every scene, which then turned out to be one of the most cringeworthy things in the entire franchise? Yeah, Yoda is ten times funnier because he is just a nut. He’s that interpretation of an old man who I hear is on his last legs but then I hear they are in “good spirits.” I always think of that as someone who is able to utilize a sense of humor while also showing signs of weakness. And this is yet another example of lines that really are not that funny, but in the context of “The Empire Strikes Back,” they can get me to laugh for some reason. And I think part of it is not just the lines themselves and how they are brilliantly delivered by Frank Oz, but maybe even Yoda’s laughter. It just proves that laughter is contagious and without any argument, the all-time best medicine.

But when I’m not busy laughing at Yoda’s antics, I am busy admiring Darth Vader’s fiendish will to rule the galaxy. In the previous film, we did get to know Vader as a character a little bit, especially considering how he was the main threat at the end. In this film however, we get to dive into his character and see another side of him aside from being just a big baddie. And he still is. He still force chokes his own allies, he still wields a red lightsaber. But in “The Empire Strikes Back,” there is more added to his story that makes him who he is, and it also affects other characters in the movie. For those of you who have not seen the movie, I will do my best to not say anything about a specific scene towards the end, even though it has been parodied and talked about millions of times, but if you don’t even have an inkling of how the end of “The Empire Strikes Back” goes down, just wait. It was brilliant back in the 1980s (maybe depending on what language you spoke) and it has aged like a fine wine since.

But also on the topic of the dark side, going onto a recurring category in these reviews, the score in this film, composed by John Williams, is bonkers good. In some cases, it might even be better than the original “Star Wars.” In addition to some themes that make a reappearance to a degree, “The Empire Strikes Back” adds exciting new music that can be heard as the Falcon flies through asteroids, as the heroes run around Cloud City, and as Luke tries to defend himself against a Wampa. But by far the most iconic original theme from “The Empire Strikes Back,” for good reason, and this is what I mean when it comes to talking about the dark side, is the Imperial March.

This music is literal perfection. You know how in times of war they have these propaganda songs to get people to join the military? You know, songs like “Over There” by Nora Bayes? The patriotic song that has been used since the 1910s during World War I? If the Empire wanted a way to convince me to join their fleet as a soldier or officer, this would perhaps be more effective than them saying “We have pizza, AND you get ten million bucks on the spot.” It is so… weirdly catchy. Again, I think part of it is because “Star Wars” is so ingrained in our culture whether we like it or not, but for some reason, this song goes to show the power of John Williams. The man knows how to do a killer track and as much as I see myself more in line with the values of the Jedi, this goes to reveal how fascinating the dark side is. If I ran a dictatorship where I had obnoxious power, which I do not see myself doing, I would use this as its theme music.

I think the best part of “The Empire Strikes Back” however is the fact that, and this maybe makes me a hypocrite, because we kind of see this in “The Last Jedi” too and that film was a disappointment, it’s that failure is a common result in this film. The title is as it suggests, the Empire strikes back with as much force as it can, putting the pressure on our heroes, and in the couple hours that everything goes down in the film, I manage to care about everyone on screen. I want to talk about some of these blunders, but the reality is that if I do, I’d be going into spoiler territory, and even though this is a 41-year-old film that has been celebrated by many people, I would doing a disservice if I did not let people who have not seen the film avoid going in blind. There is so much I want to talk about, everything from *bleep*, to *bleep*, all the way to the end where we *bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeep*. But I can’t. I’d be doing the newcomers a lack of a favor. I’d be ruining the experience for them. Yes, I talked about failure, but I don’t want to get into how much failure or the specific contents behind all of it. I want you, the people who have not seen “The Empire Strikes Back,” to finish reading this review, buy the movie in whatever way you can or watch it on TBS On Demand or Disney+ or something and experience what truly makes this film so extraordinary. The less you know, the better.

On another note, I just want to say that Lando Calrissian is a great addition to the franchise and he almost steals the show in every scene he is in. Whoever cast Billy Dee Williams as the character, well done. You deserve a pat on the back. Kind of like Han Solo, he has that rogueish, ladies-man vibe, but he also delivers it in his own way. I truly think he is one of the standouts of the movie.

One last thing before we go any further. Again, I want to be as secretive as possible, but the way this movie ends when we get to the final scene, it has one of the most unique feels not just in regard to how a “Star Wars” movie ends, but how any movie ends. Because the scene before the end is almost an adrenaline rush to the final second and at this point, just about every potential arc has developed. Without giving much context, we see our characters and the sense that I have at this point is satisfaction. Then after one particular incident is resolved, the music just swells up as we see the characters gaze out at a window and look at the galaxy that lies within. To me, this just says one word. Relief. We’ve had failure along the way, but the journey has paid off to where not just us as an audience, but our characters, get a moment to breathe. Yes, they have to live with their recent failure, but they finally get a break where they get to relax, unwind, and process what they just went through. In war, there is no rest. But this ending represents that relief which would come with taking a break every once in a while. So as a viewer, I feel satisfied, but I am also left longing for our characters to move on and see what they do next. The ending is bittersweet to say the least. It’s sad that the previous events happened, but it is heartwarming to know they have come to an end.

Remember when I reviewed the 1977 “Star Wars” and I talk about how “fun” it is, in addition to how often I feel like flocking to that universe in my imagination? Well, that has not changed. To me, this just goes to show the true genius of “The Empire Strikes Back.” It almost reminds me of, going to a more modern example, “Avengers: Infinity War,” because that is a film that like its predecessors, is fun from start to finish, but is full of emotionally charged moments that affect certain characters in less than positive ways. If the film still has glimmers of fun and imagination in it despite being depressing every other moment, that is not a good movie. It is an incredible movie.

In the end, “The Empire Strikes Back” strikes forth as one of the greatest sequels of all time. To me, this is a film that gets better with age, and how they answer certain questions in the next film probably solidifies that. The original “Star Wars” became a timeless classic through its likable predictability and familiar feel and story, but by offering a blend of that familiarity that audiences could easily fall in love with. “The Empire Strikes Back” on the other hand goes in for the kill and tries to warp your mind into something new even if has traces of familiarity as well. The film is subversive, exciting, and eye-popping. The effects still hold up to this day. The asteroid scene looks beautiful even in 2021. The duel towards the end with Luke and Vader offers some of the best shots in the franchise and an epic feel despite coming off as occasionally intimate. Again, it’s probably another reason why people look at “Star Wars” as if it were a western instead of a traditional science fiction or fantasy story all the time. “The Empire Strikes Back” is one of the greatest, most magnificently crafted pieces of art ever known to man and it is a film that is likely only going to continue to get better as years pass by. It is a film truly deserving of a 10/10.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the final film in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and that is going to be for “Return of the Jedi.” Get ready for Ewoks, the Emperor, and Jabba the Hutt! That review will be up tomorrow, Friday, May 28th! And after that, I will be doing the final review in the 7 Days of Star Wars event, which will be for “The Force Awakens,” the first film in the sequel trilogy. If you want to see these upcoming reviews, follow Scene Before either with email or WordPress account, and if you’re on Facebook, like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Empire Strikes Back?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite sequel ever? It doesn’t even have to be a movie. It can be a book. It can be a video game. Heck, it can even be Diet Coke! A worthy successor and slightly healthier edition of an iconic drink! Not sponsored, I promise. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/26/star-wars-1977-an-ageless-adventure/

ROGUE ONE: https://flicknerd.com/2016/12/16/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-a-movie-built-on-hope/

THE LAST JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2017/12/15/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-2017-another-year-another-star-wars-movie/

SOLO: https://flicknerd.com/2018/05/25/solo-a-star-wars-story-2018-somehow-this-star-wars-movie-exists/

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: https://flicknerd.com/2019/12/20/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-2019-the-final-word-in-the-story/

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019): The Final Word in the Story

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“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is directed by J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible: III, Star Trek), who also directed 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” This film stars Daisy Ridley (Peter Rabbit, Murder on the Orient Express), John Boyega (Pacific Rim: Uprising, The Circle), Adam Driver (Paterson, Girls), Carrie Fisher (The Blues Brothers, Family Guy), Mark Hamill (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Batman: The Animated Series), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Operation Finale), Anthony Daniels (I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, The Lord of the Rings), Naomi Ackie (The End of the F***ing World, Lady MacBeth), Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, American Made), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Logan), Lupita Nyong’o (Us, 12 Years a Slave), Keri Russell (Waitress, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Joonas Suotamo (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Kelly Marie Tran (Adam Ruins Everything, XOXO), Ian McDiarmid (The Lost City of Z, Sleepy Hollow), and Billy Dee Williams (Batman, Dynasty). This film is the conclusion to the sequel trilogy of the “Star Wars” franchise, bringing an end to the now trendily-named “Skywalker Saga” and follows the heroes we have come to know so far as the Resistance is dwindled. Where do they go next? Wherever they can to face off against the First Order one last time.

Oh, and of course… There’s a REAL LIFE plot to this movie too! After the events of “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” audiences are divided! Between playing it too safe in one movie and trying to find unlocked paths in another movie, there is no way to impress every single “Star Wars” fan out there! So now it is the job of J.J. Abrams to bring balance to the “Star Wars” fandom and take on the near impossible task of sticking the landing in terms of directing “Episode IX.”

Now, for those of you who have been following Scene Before for some time, I do have to say, I make an effort to provide as little spoilers as possible for every movie review I do. There may be a case where I either have to or want to put in spoilers for one reason or another, but most of the time, I make an effort to be as secretive as possible in regards to the film’s key points that could potentially alter how one would see the movie if it had been revealed to them beforehand. With that being said, this is a “Star Wars” movie. “Star Wars” is a franchise that I would be eternally heartbroken had spoilers for it come my way. I imagine most of my viewers would feel the same way. So let me just say, this is a SPOILER-FREE review. Knowing that I just saw the movie on one of the earliest showtimes the public can access, I am going to raise my shield to avoid all effects from blasters, lightsabers, pistols, force lightning, and if possible (and I’m not saying I am weak-minded), Jedi mind tricks. So without further ado, let’s talk some “Star Wars.”

The “Star Wars” sequel trilogy has been a mixed bag for me so far. I for one LOVE “The Force Awakens.” I’m not gonna lie, it is one of my favorite “Star Wars” movies for sure. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was a movie I was looking forward to, saw in the theater on opening weekend, and walked out of it feeling like I saw the second coming of Christ on screen. Every now and then I’ll walk out of a movie feeling something inside me that made me feel like I leveled up. That was one of them. In fact, it might even be my favorite movie of 2015. Is it a copy paste of the original “Star Wars” movie? Sure, you can definitely bring up that point. But the thing is, the movie did exactly what a film of its kind needed to do. Deliver crowd-pleasing moments, provide stunning visuals, unleash great characters, start something special, and take you away from reality. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was able to do that. I will admit, I liked “Episode III,” in fact I personally admire it much more than most people, but as someone who looks back at the prequels as a slight step in the wrong direction, what Disney and J.J. Abrams did with “The Force Awakens” was exactly what I believe the “Star Wars” community and fanbase needed. Something familiar, but immensely entertaining.

Then we got “The Last Jedi” which was… Mediocre. Now if you have ever read my initial review for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” you’d know I dug it. The reason being is because as much as I enjoyed “The Force Awakens,” I saw it partially as a throwback. But it’s a good throwback, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind movies or media jumping on the nostalgia train, but I wanted something new out of this “Star Wars” trilogy that could separate them from the other two. As good as “The Empire Strikes Back” is, I was afraid that this movie, like “The Force Awakens” did with “A New Hope,” would be a rehash of “The Empire Strikes Back.” However, based on what the movie provided from a story perspective, that did not seem to be the case. The movie made some bold, expectation-subverting choices. While I admire director Rian Johnson for trying to take “Star Wars” in a new direction, it didn’t pay off. Originally, I gave the movie a 9/10 for the steps it took in finding new storytelling paths, but as I thought about the movie more, I dug it less and less. Mark Hamill is GREAT as Luke though, I’ll give the movie that. I will admit, the film is beautifully directed, it’s wonderfully shot, and the visuals are sometimes incredible. But the screenplay is almost the worst in “Star Wars” history. “The Last Jedi” felt like a passion project that ended up splattering in someone’s face. I will admit, as much as I don’t like Johnson’s vision for “The Last Jedi,” I do think he is a damn fine director with the right project. He made “Knives Out,” which is one of the best movies of the year, and I just saw “Looper,” another film he wrote and directed, and it’s nothing short of dope. I would be SOMEWHAT open to him directing another “Star Wars” project, but not writing one.

Now we’re here! “The Rise of Skywalker” is upon us. I will admit, I did not have the most pleasurable thoughts going into it. But nevertheless, I scored tickets for the first show of the film at one of my all-time favorite movie theatres, so the fan inside me felt ready for this experience. I will admit, some of the trailers were really good, and part of me was curious to see how this saga will end (until Disney needs more money and they make Episode X). What are my thoughts on the ultimate story of the “Skywalker Saga?” The top of Mount “Star Wars!” The height of the force! WHAT? DID? I? THINK OF IT?

Well… uhhhh…. It was better than “Cats.”

To be completely serious with you, I really enjoyed this movie A LOT MORE THAN I THOUGHT I WOULD going into it. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is up there to me with “Toy Story 4” and “Alita: Battle Angel” as one of 2019’s most pleasant surprises. I could honestly end the review by pointing out that against each and every single odd, J.J. Abrams delivered something watchable. But, ending the review here would be boring, and y’all will probably feel cheated, so let’s move on.

Sticking with J.J. Abrams, he was the right choice to direct this film. I love what he did with “The Force Awakens” as mentioned earlier. And I think those who have complained in the past about “The Force Awakens,” specifically about it playing it too safe might dig this movie a little more than that. Granted, this movie relies HEAVILY on nostalgia. There are many iconic themes from John Williams that are brought back, nods to past “Star Wars” films and TV programs, the return of Lando, and Palpatine is even somehow in this movie. But even with that, this movie introduces quite a few new things. I am not exactly going to go into each and every one of them, but they are there nonetheless. In fact, as someone who doesn’t like “The Last Jedi,” I think the thing about it that I at least appreciate is its willingness to take risks. They didn’t pay off, but they are still risks. This movie was able to take me to my happy place, sort of back to my childhood, while also introducing some fresh ideas. Not all of them worked, kind of like in “The Last Jedi,” but there are some that played into how fun this movie ultimately is.

One thing you are going to hear me repeat often throughout this review is that I won’t spoil something, so bear with me here. But I want to mention that without going into much detail, C-3PO had a bit to do with the movie’s story, and I think this may be my favorite 3PO story yet. In fact, 3PO honestly feels like a necessary character for this movie to go on. And even though he has been in just about every “Star Wars” film so far, this may be the first story where I felt 3PO’s presence was required in order for certain events to take place since the original trilogy, or maybe “The Phantom Menace.” I mean, most of his stories since just involved him being in the movie to have a random character be a comic relief (which he was before, but still) or just give some random perspective of what’s going on. Well that, and he needs his red arm replaced. It’s nice seeing him in the prequels and the last couple of sequel films, but seeing him as a core part of the story here is an utter delight, knowing the legacy this character has overall.

As for our main characters, I think Rey, Finn, and Poe, the main human trio we have come to know so far throughout this trilogy are hypnotizing to watch. Seeing them on screen again was a blast, in fact there is a scene early on between Finn and Poe that might be one of the most ridiculously fast-paced and bonkers “Star Wars” moments ever. Without saying much, it involves the Millennium Falcon. Personally, the scenes involving Rey when she was separated from her friends were a bit more fun than those between her friends. Honestly, there are a few scenes between the main trio, not every scene, but there is one that stands out in particular, where I just began to question the chemistry between them. I know that one of the key differences between this and the other two trilogies is that it is the shortest of the timelines. The original trilogy spans about four or five years and the prequels last even longer. This entire trilogy lasts about a year. It’s kind of mind-boggling if you think about it. Even though you have less time to develop these characters off-screen, it still somewhat unfortunate that the movie’s quality suffered as a result.

Speaking of character flaws, let’s talk about some of the newer additions to the movie. I’m not gonna go too deep into the new characters, but what I can say about them is that they sort of make me reflect upon “The Last Jedi.” What I mean is that whenever a new character in that movie is introduced, it takes some amount of time for me to just want them to disappear. The only new character in that film that really brought something to the table for me was the one played by Benicio Del Toro because he seemed to have some hint of swagger to him. I didn’t like Holdo, I didn’t like Rose (who is much better in this movie better by the way), the force kids didn’t really seem to add much of anything. Kind of like that, the new characters introduced to this film were also kind of forgettable. Granted, they’re better than those introduced in “Episode VIII,” but nevertheless. Nobody made me roll my eyes and no one took away my dignity. Even if the new characters were not that great, you could still tell me that they were in the movie for a reason and I’d probably be on your side.

Case and point, Keri Russell’s character of Zorii Bliss. As the main adventurers are in the middle of their quest, they run into this woman, thus leading to an explanation of her past history with one of the film’s other characters. Again, I’m trying to be vague with this review, because knowing some people, they consider minute details spoilers, so I am going to fulfill those people’s wishes. I like her costume design, and I’ll reiterate, she serves her purpose when the movie needs her, but if she was taken out of the movie, I would probably not care all that much. But, movie’s gotta movie.

Speaking of new characters, I also, to my disappointment, didn’t like D-O, the new green droid that was introduced. I am not saying I was highly anticipating D-O to be the scene stealer of the film or anything, but if there was one character that was probably created SPECIFICALLY for this movie just to get somebody out of the house to go buy a toy, this would be the one. D-O is along for the ride, but it’s another one of those characters that could literally be removed from the script and bring no negative effect to the table. Well, maybe except Disney who won’t be making as much money from people who may go out and buy D-O merchandise in the meantime. It would be fine if D-O had more dimension as a character, but there’s barely anything that I could say about D-O that makes him resemble a character full of personality, and full of charisma. You can make the argument that a character like BB-8 was mainly created to sell toys, but the thing is, BB-8 is charming, serves the plot very well, and doesn’t necessarily feel tacked on. BB-8 has basically been a centerpiece to the films he’s appeared in so far, not to mention this entire trilogy. D-O could have been something special, but the somewhat lackluster writing says otherwise.

I also gotta be honest, and I don’t know if I should be entirely surprised, but General Hux has become more of a joke for each movie that he’s in. Here, it’s almost insulting. He starts out well in this film for the most part, and I was entertained when he was on screen, but as the movie gets a bit closer to finishing its first hour, his character does something that honestly got on my nerves. I am not gonna go into detail about what he does, but I don’t know if J.J. Abrams or Chris Terrio or even Colin Trevorrow years back, when he was scheduled to helm this movie, made this decision, but it come off HORRIBLY when delivered on screen. It felt like something ways off from Hux’s personality and it was rainbows and unicorns kinds of impractical. Some people I know have been somewhat displeased with Hux in “The Last Jedi,” a notion I kind of agree with by the way. However, in that movie, I still got a sense of Hux being himself. He still felt like the same character introduced in “The Force Awakens.” It felt like a sligthly natural progression. While Hux is still kind of himself in this film as well, there’s just a moment where I felt dumbfounded as a viewer watching him on screen.

I’ll say this again, Lando’s back! This is something I was personally rather excited for, because I think Lando is one of the many highlights of the original trilogy. It’s hard to list any bad characters from said trilogy, but if there are any, Lando ain’t one of them. How is he in this movie? Well, without spoiling much, he brings some fun to the table, but he isn’t really in the movie all that much. Is that a bad thing? Given the movie’s story structure, I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing at all, but if you were expecting a Lando extravaganza, you’re not gonna get that. He plays a somewhat minor role in the film, but all of his scenes are watchable and easy to enjoy.

Now let’s get to this one of the most odd yet interesting additions to this film’s cast of characters, Palpatine. Before we go any further, let me just address that people behind this film have stated that it was always the plan to bring back The Emperor. I honestly don’t know if I buy that. I think that’s just a protective statement to avoid turning audiences off. I would have NEVER envisioned The Emperor coming back for this movie, or the sequel trilogy in the first place. Remember that first trailer for the movie? The one they showed at Star Wars Celebration in April? Once I heard Palpatine’s infamous laugh for the first time, I was shivering to my core. It was something so out of left field at the time, that it made my interest meter for the movie go up a couple notches. At the same time however, the more I thought about it, the more nervous I became. I say that because as much as I love the fact that we get to see Palpatine one more time, I was worried that his appearance here would undermine everything in previously established material. Most specifically, “Return of the Jedi,” which may be his most prominent film. Why? Becuase SPOILERS, it’s been 36 years since that movie came out, WHO CARES? He dies. And it’s not just the fact that he dies that I was worried about, I also felt apprehensive because of the way he died. The ending of “Return of the Jedi” is probably my favorite endings of the “Star Wars” franchise (aside from “Rogue One”), partially because the way The Emperor goes out is chill-inducing. Between the powerful score given by John Williams, Vader’s conflict, Luke’s near-death experience, and the massive stakes at hand, it makes The Emperor’s fate all the more meaningful and emotionally satisfying. Seeing the smoke rise from the pit is a feast for the eyes and ears, and I thought that was a fine bow tie for his character. But no, I guess for some reason he’s returned to the party. I was honestly worried for a number of reasons. Two of which I’ll give here. 1. Again, The Emperor died in a way that was satisfying and the way he went out feels like a way that would be difficult to recover from. 2. The marketing seemed to promise Palpatine, but I did not think it was clear as to how much of him we’d be getting. After all, his voice is heard a lot, but I only remember seeing him physically in probably just one TV spot. That and one of the early posters.

So how was Palpatine? Not bad, to be quite honest. There is no way, at least at this point that I could be convinced that Palpatine was supposed to be the endgame the whole time, but inserting him in this movie was surprisingly solid. I mean, you can make the argument that Palpatine’s character being a centerpiece of all three trilogies in some way bring something to the table, but I’m not sure I’d completely agree. Nevertheless, just about any character interaction with him was tense and had my full attention. Ian McDiarmid played him like Slash can play a guitar! I am not going to dive deep into his character because there is a good chance that any effective thing I can say about him would be somewhere in spoiler-territory. I’ll just say this… He doesn’t just feel like a bad guy who wants to do bad guy things. He legit feels like a threat, as he should, and a necessary part of the film’s overall story and conflict. Overall, I dug him being here.

Speaking of things I dug, one thing that stood out to me at the start of the movie happened to be Rey, and the reason for that is because she apparently is kind of the Jedi definition of a showoff. She has these abilities that I think almost no other person in history could ever achieve. I will admit, when I first saw this, I kind of liked it. This new trilogy has shown was in which the force has perhaps evolved so to have this all powerful being is not completely unbelievable. Again, I already said I dug it, such a comment about liking this might almost be irrelevant at this point. BUT… There are a couple moments where I legit thought I was watching a piece of fantastical and far-fetched fan-fiction come to life. There are some things done with the force in this movie that I do not remember seeing much in “Star Wars” prior to this movie. This movie has a point where it becomes seemingly convenient in terms of how the force works. Sometimes it might be cool, maybe even badass, sometimes it just doesn’t work. There’s a moment in particular between Rey and Kylo on a desert that I want to say I like, but the Movie Reviewing Moron part of me wants to question whatever it was I just saw.

Sticking with Rey and Kylo, they have a number of scenes together in the movie, and there are some neat moments between them. Specifically fights, conversations, and more. Although if I had to list a complaint in the movie that might be my biggest of all, it would have to be this one scene between the two of them at the very end. It’s something that starts off as charming and sweet, and then becomes something that continues to piss me off. I have a feeling that if you are under a certain mindset going into the film you might enjoy whatever it is I won’t talk about whatsoever, but it just didn’t work for me.

Continuing off of what I just said, the final half hour to forty five minutes of this movie is full of fan service. Almost in the same way such a fraction of “Avengers: Endgame” was for the MCU. I won’t go into details about the fan service specifically. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t. Listen, that thing that I mentioned pissed me off in the last paragraph, I AM NOT GONNA SPOIL A THING, but if you pay attention, the thing that pissed me off personally is part of said fan service. And having said that, I almost wonder what the people behind this movie were thinking while making it. Keep in mind, while a good number of people seemed to enjoy “The Last Jedi,” I and many others was not really satisfied with it. This movie, in a way, seems to try to give something to everyone. Whether they liked “The Last Jedi,” hated it. Or whether they liked the other “Star Wars” movies, maybe hated those as well, it seems that a lot of time writing the screenplay went into focusing on elements that made other “Star Wars” screenplays what they are, but also what made “The Last Jedi” liked by certain people. This movie, even though it acknowledges the existence of “The Last Jedi,” sort of feels like an apology letter to viewers for “The Last Jedi.” Having disliked “The Last Jedi” myself, I can’t complain too much, but it feels like a script that is supposed to cater to anybody who ever watched “Star Wars” and admired a piece of it. This brings a complication into the mix. There will be things that will inevitably piss off some people, but there will also be things that will floor those same people in a positive way. For all I know, there could be someone out there that loves all things “Star Wars” that might end up liking EVERYTHING in this movie. I’m sure they’re out there.

I do not have all that much more to say about “The Rise of Skywalker,” but I gotta say as an ending to a nine film saga, this is surprisingly satisfying. I was worried that J.J. Abrams wouldn’t stick the landing, I was worried that I would feel unfulfilled for some reason, or the direction in this film will highlight a completely rushed ending. I gotta say one thing though. As much I enjoy having gotten my own opportunity to see an entire “Star Wars” trilogy with both previously established and newly established characters in theaters, I do not know if this film in particular is as fulfilling overall compared to the ending of “Return of the Jedi.” Again, I’m not going to spoil anything, but that film ended on such a note where the characters many of us have come to love got just about everything that they have come to earn. Admittedly, having seen this new ending, I WON’T GO INTO detail, but one character “acquires” something new that hasn’t been acquired yet that combines fan service and pure emotion. It also solves a complaint. What complaint? Not gonna tell ya. If I ever do a spoiler talk, I’ll be sure to bring this up.

Overall, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is entertaining, visually impressive (which shouldn’t be surprising, it’s “Star Wars”), and one more thing I will mention is this, because I feel I should not leave you all hanging without a mention of John Williams kicking ass with his score. I mentioned earlier that his score is heavily reliant on nostalgic themes, but whenever there is a scene that is heavy on said nostalgia or one that really needs a certain mood, Williams is there to bring the goods. I need time to see where I’ll rank this score, but as of now, this is one of the absolute best “Star Wars” scores I have ever heard. Having witnessed comments about this being the last “Star Wars” score from John Williams, I think he went out with an absolute bang. Williams, this world, nor does a galaxy far far away, deserve you. You are a god, enough said.

In the end, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is a flawed, but simultaneously charming finale to a nine film saga that has been going on for over forty years. Once more, I’ll bring up “The Last Jedi,” and I will say even though that film has glimmers of entertainment, it does not feel like a story worthy of the “Star Wars” name. This sequel is a bombastic roller coaster that is worth seeing, especially if you are a fan of the “Star Wars” franchise because I can probably guarantee that even if you end up not liking the movie overall, there will ultimately be SOMETHING to enjoy. But I must say one thing, and this is probably going to piss off some people.

So I have the unpopular opinion, although over the years I have found this unpopular opinion to be a bit more popular than I anticipated, of “Revenge of the Sith,” the finale to the prequel trilogy, being one of my favorite “Star Wars” movies. Another movie which I consider to be just as great is “Return of the Jedi,” the finale of the original trilogy. If I had to be honest, my thoughts on “The Rise of Skywalker” are not that positive compared to my thoughts on the other two movies I mentioned. I liked it, quite a bit in fact. But if I had to give the honest truth, “The Rise of Skywalker” is my least favorite of the three trilogy finales the saga has had so far. Even with that in mind, it’s still good. At the same time though, this does bring up one positive regarding the “Star Wars” saga as a whole, and a negative as well, depending on how you look at it. The finales of all the trilogies make up the one portion of the saga that is entirely positive in one way or another. Keep in mind, I love all the films in the original trilogy, so the beginning, middle, and end all work there. But “The Phantom Menace” was a fail to start off the prequel trilogy, and speaking of prequel failures, I also wasn’t a fan of the middle act of the trio of films, “Attack of the Clones.” Similarly, this most recent sequel trilogy had the disappointing middle entry “The Last Jedi.” The finales all worked, even this one, to my complete surprise. With that being said, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is worth a watch, especially in a big, obnoxious movie theater with fantastic sound, and I’m going to give it a rather high 6/10. As much as I enjoyed the movie, I think a 6 is a fair grade. Would I watch it again? Oh, you betcha. And technically, this film has some of the best sound and visual effects of the year, which isn’t new for a “Star Wars” film. But story-wise, there is an argument to make that even though I love how quick this movie progresses, it almost gets to that point where it becomes rushed. If the newer characters were better and if MAYBE it tried to focus going down one particular path as opposed to catering to a bunch of different demographics, the score could potentially be higher.

With all of what I just said in mind, this movie honestly has notable flaws, not to mention things that piss me off. But this movie is also satisfying overall, and the many positives of the movie tend to outweigh the negatives. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, and most importantly, it’s better than both “The Last Jedi” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” both movies which by the way, I felt disappointed by. I want to thank everyone for giving a great saga of films to remember. I hope various future “Star Wars” projects work out and I am looking forward to the future of the franchise should I continue to tune in. Thanks for reading this review! Next week is the limited release of the all new war film “1917.” It is going to be hitting theaters everywhere this January, but honestly this is a movie that I need to see as soon as possible because I have a feeling that it is going to be one of the best directed and well-shot movies of this particular release year. It comes out Christmas Day, which I’m busy on, but hopefully I can get my butt in a seat as soon as possible. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or if you want greater access to the blog, use a WordPress account. Be sure to like this post and share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?” What did you think about it? Or, now that the three main “Star Wars” trilogies are concluded, which is your favorite? The prequels? The originals? Or the sequels? You know what, here’s another question. How would you personally rank the three trilogies? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

CON ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m Going to Terrificon 2019!

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you have followed my blog over the past couple of years, you’d know that I occasionally cover my experiences at conventions, and the first one I ever did was the annual Terrificon. Therefore, it should perhaps be no surprise that I am returning to the con for the third time in a row! If you have read my recent “halftime” post, you’d notice that one of my announcements for August is my return to this con. But for the sake of tradition, I thought I would provide a preview to this event in depth.

For those who don’t know about Terrificon, it is an annual event held every year in the state of Connecticut. In recent years, the event has taken place at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, 15 minutes away from its main competitor, Foxwoods. This year, the event returns in Mohegan Sun’s Earth Expo & Convention Center, a venue where the convention happened to be held for the first time ever in 2018, making it one of the earliest events to have occurred in said spot. The con primarily focuses on comic books, comic artists, gaming, cosplay, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, and more. It is organized by Big Fedora Marketing, LLC and Mitch Hallock, who has spent years in design and marketing. They are also responsible for another Connecticut-based convention, CTGamerCon. I have never been, but I have been curious about it for awhile. Per usual, this convention is being held this August, but due to the actions one of the convention’s competitors, they have decided to hold this year’s con on the second weekend of August (9-11) as opposed to the third weekend of August (16-18). Why? Another New England con, specifically Fan Expo Boston, is being held on August’s third weekend instead of their usual spot, which is the second weekend.

Regardless of whatever time it is held, the organizers are definitely promising a fun time. There are multiple recognizable celebrity guests, a number of big comic artists, and tons of shops to visit for all your nerdy needs.

One notable celebrity crew uniting for Terrificon comes from the show “Animaniacs.” This con is said to have Rob Paulsen (Yakko), Jess Harnell (Wakko), and Maurice LaMarche (Ralph the Guard). All three guests will be showing up, signing autographs, and doing photo ops. They’ll also have the option to voice record for a certain price. I cannot say whether or not I’ll be meeting all three of these people, but Jess Harnell has recently gotten me curious because I just found out that he did the voice of Crash Bandicoot, the iconic video game character from the 1990s.

Other voiceover related guests include Larry Kenney (SilverHawks, ThunderCats), Tony Todd (Transformers, Justice League), Maile Flanagan (Ice Age, Naruto), and Phil LaMarr (Family Guy, Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Of all these voice actors, I’d be very likely to meet Phil LaMarr, for one thing, he plays Ollie on “Family Guy” and I would love to hear his character “see how things are looking” at the con. But he also played a smaller role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” which I just watched for the first time and reviewed here on Scene Before. I would probably bring my “Pulp Fiction” Blu-ray for him to sign, maybe chat with him for at least a few minutes, because why not? Depends on the line though…

Although, if I had speculate from here, I am willing to bet LaMarr’s line will be considerably short compared to a guest like Val Kilmer. As some of you may know, he played Batman back in the 1990s when Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever” came out. So I am expecting at least one “Bat Nipple” Batman cosplay at this convention. It has to happen. Granted, George Clooney could have shown up and this would probably be much more likely, but Kilmer had the nips as well! But I am somewhat excited for him to be here, that way I have the opportunity to possibly ask some things about “Top Gun: Maverick,” a movie coming out next year that I am really excited for. Unfortunately however, I don’t know if I am going to get to do that, because I have no desire to get an autograph or photo op with Kilmer, especially when looking at the prices that he asks for. But I also looked at the panel schedule for this year and it appears, unless there is not enough specification or I am just completely missing something, there is going to be no panel for Kilmer.

Speaking of “Batman,” another guest related to the franchise, Robert Wuhl, AKA Alexander Knox in Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” movie, will also be showing up. However, even though I imagine a lot of people are desiring to stand near Wuhl, I think there is one guest I have yet to mention that will knock some people’s socks off.

BILLY.

DEE.

WILLIAMS.

That’s right, Harvey Dent himself, but much more importantly, LANDO F*CKING CALRISSIAN from the “Star Wars” franchise will be showing up to Terrificon. I would probably bet $1,000, and appropriately so since the con is taking place in a casino, that Billy Dee Williams will have the biggest line for all the con’s guests. He has set himself up as a geek icon! These two franchises are enough to get him some attention at this con. Plus, he is going to be in the upcoming “Star Wars” film, “The Rise of Skywalker,” which will easily generate some attention. I will definitely be going to Williams’ panel, which is being held on Saturday at 1PM. However, I do not think I’ll be getting a signature or photo op. Why? Just look at the prices! For personal items, a signature is $100. For an item at the table that happens to be 8 x 10 inches, it’s $105. For an item at the table that happens to be 11 x 17 inches, it’s $110! Granted, it would be nice to stand in line and make a commitment for Billy Dee Williams, but based on statistics, not only are the autographs expensive, but the website suggests that selfies at the table are not happening, and if you get an autograph, you cannot get a selfie with the purchase.

Plus… I already met him, so I’m good.

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Yeah, we talked back in 2016 when I stood in line for him at Rhode Island Comic Con. I asked how he was doing, he said he had a decent lobster meal recently, I got his autograph, and I showed him something that I thought he might appreciate. Before getting into Billy Dee Williams’ line, I ran into a shop at the con that sold drones. Believe it or not, it’s called Cloud City Drones, which if you know your “Star Wars” lore, Cloud City is the city where the climax of “The Empire Strikes Back” basically unfolds. I’m not sure if he heard what I said, because I showed him a piece of paper that was essentially an advertisement for the place. But the way he responded, and I’m not saying he’s a jerk, because I’ve seen him, I can say he’s calm and well-mannered, but he said “That’s… Star Wars.” The way I thought he said that almost made it sound like that maybe he thought I wanted to know what Cloud City was, but I got what I wanted so I was satisfied. But that’s not why I am not meeting him again, I just mentioned the whole overpriced autograph thingy. If anything, I’d enjoy talking to him for a second, ask how he’s doing, and maybe remind him that we have met once in the past. But when I already have an autograph from Williams, not to mention one that cost $50 for the signature, plus $8 more for a protector, I just gotta say, “Eh, I’m good.” There are certain celebrities that I wouldn’t mind having multiple autographs from, in fact, there has been a case where that has happened for me, but if Williams’ signature were cheaper, chances are I’d jump in line and pay up.

I will say however, when it comes to lesser known guests, there is one that I plan on interacting with at some point. I already met this guy at New York Comic Con last year by coincidence, but I barely got to talk with him. Although since he is on a list to visit Terrificon this year, I am putting out all the stops to meet Robert Franzese, AKA “Real Life Peter Griffin.” If I can’t meet Seth MacFarlane, this is the next best thing! I am subscribed to this guy’s YouTube channel, he’s hilarious, and I love how implements the “Grinds My Gears” gag into his videos. In fact, when he announced that he was coming to Terrificon, he implemented that very gag! Check out this video below!

I mean, the resemblance is uncanny! I will say, if they are serious about that live-action hybrid “Family Guy” movie and they want a realistic looking guy for Peter Griffin, we have your actor!

One of the things that I have personally noticed about Terrificon is that it is a good con for families, because if you have a child that wants to meet their favorite celebrities, and they are eight years of age or younger, they get free admission! That however only includes admission to the con itself and does not apply to any after con activities. But there is a thing that has been around last year called the Aw Yeah Comics Fun Zone. They have numerous guests music artists providing family friendly entertainment, various activities, magic shows, tons of things for kids to enjoy. So if you have a kid and you want to come to this con, why not bring them along? Just make sure you are an adult paying for your own ticket!

But what do kids also like? Games of course! Granted, this is also adult friendly too. This year Terrificon has a list of games lined up for everyone to enjoy. One game that I have noticed was there last year, but I did not play, was “Rock Band 4.” I enjoy “Rock Band” even though I don’t play it as often as I used to, but I’m still questioning whether or not I’d give this game a shot. But one game I will inevitably be playing at the con is “The Jackbox Party Pack.” When I was at this con last year, there was a session on Friday as the con was coming to a close where a bunch of people gathered in a room to play “Jackbox” games. For those who don’t know about “The Jackbox Party Pack,” it is a series of games meant to be played with friends or at parties, and they all have this humorous flair attached to them. Some of my favorite games from the packs include “Fibbage,” “Guesspionage,” and “Trivia Murder Party.” There is a good chance that there will be a decent crowd joining in to play these games, which will definitely make the experience all the more lively. This is all going down on Friday at 7PM, but that is not the only gaming-related event I’m planning to observe, because there are a couple of sessions dedicated to “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” which are being held on Saturday. I’d probably be interested in the second session (singles) because the doubles match is being held at 12PM, which depending on how long it should go on, could interfere with me seeing Billy Dee Williams’ panel.

But for those who also like tabletop gaming, they shouldn’t have to worry about missing out, because there are plenty of sessions involving “Magic: The Gathering.” These are all happening every day at various times. Other games that are to be seen include “Transformers: Turbo Sealed,” “Star Wars: X-Wing,” and “Warhammer: Underworlds.”

Another thing this convention has is after con events. One example is happening at Mohegan Sun’s Cabaret Theatre, where you can see John Barrowman (Arrow, Doctor Who) onstage. According to Terrificon’s site, the event is said to be “filled with spontaneous stories, music, and fabulous fun.” Tickets are on sale at prices ranging from $60 to $100 depending on which tier you select.

If you ever wanted to have dinner with a celebrity, now’s your chance! Because you can sit down with a man who has undoubtedly established himself. He’s a male model, art director, historian, magician, escape artist, musician, illustrator, pop-culture lecturer, publisher, designer, and sideshow fire-eater. I’m talking about Jim Steranko, or as my words probably suggest, the coolest person EVER. Except when he’s eating fire, then he’s flamin’ hot! In the realm of comics, he’s known as an artist-writer behind “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Captain America,” and “X-Men.” And that doesn’t even cover all of what he has done! The dinner will be held in the Passamaquiddy/Brothertown room in the Sky Convention Center and will conclude with a conversation about Steranko’s life and career. However, tickets are limited and they are $125 a pop. I probably won’t be going because it will coincide with the “Jackbox” gaming session. After all, the event is from 8-12 on Friday.

One thing I must point out in case certain people don’t know, George Perez was scheduled to appear at this convention at a certain point as part of his ongoing retirement tour. He has announced his retirement back in January and soon thereafter, it was leaked that he would be appearing at Terrificon during said tour. However, fairly recently, it was announced that he couldn’t make it and he couldn’t cancel. But fear not, because there are still items up for grabs from Perez. This is suggested on a page from Terrificon’s website announcing Perez’s cancellation.

“We are working with Mr. Pérez to obtain 275 (the same amount of autograph tickets he was going to hand out at the show) limited edition prints that he will sign and ship to TERRIFICON to be handed out to fans on a first come, first serve basis.”

So while there certainly are people, who in my opinion may be understandably upset or disappointed to know that George Perez isn’t showing up, it is also worth noting that the con is still trying to pay respect to the artist as much as they can. While I’m not particularly interested in getting a signed print from him, I do recognize Perez’s importance in the comics industry. He has been involved with both Marvel and DC, he penciled Marvel’s “The Infinity Gauntlet,” he’s responsible for DC’s 50th anniversary event, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” he rebooted “Wonder Woman” in 1987, and he has worked on several issues for Marvel’s “The Avengers.” He has done more than enough to solidify himself as a comic book icon. I almost wouldn’t be surprised if he starts taking notes from Stan Lee and begins appearing in more comic book movies during his free time. He’s had proper relationships with the big two, Marvel and DC, so it is possible that such a thing could happen. After all, with Stan Lee gone, we need new cameos! Plus, Perez is 65, he’s got a good portion of his life let from the way things seem, and despite how retirement can be fun, maybe he’ll eventually get tired of golfing.

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One last important thing. This is a reminder that the con is occurring at the Mohegan Sun casino, and with that in mind, I am willing to bet a number of guests will be spending time doing much more than going to the con. They may want to shop, stay in the hotel, and grab a bite to eat, so if you want to save some money for activities, I’d recommend taking a gander at this link down below that will provide a bunch of deals for con goers. Keep in mind that certain deals will apply to certain days and some of these won’t even be available on any day of the con. But a deal is a deal, so click the link below to keep things real!

DEALS FOR MOHEGAN SUN ATTENDEES

I am pretty excited to appear at this year’s Terrificon, and I am going to be heading down there with a friend of mine. She got her own tickets, and we are ready to go into the con with the intention of making all other activities look dumb. If anyone knows me, happens to be reading this post, and will be either at Mohegan Sun or the con this weekend, feel free to say hi, but don’t go looking in one of the casino areas because I am not gambling this weekend. The con will most likely be my “money-waster” for these few days.

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Thanks for reading this post! I hope to see you all at Terrificon, and I would like to just remind everyone that days before I go to Connecticut, I am hoping to go see at least one movie. I’m going to be without family for a few days before heading out, I’ll have some free time on my hands, so I may want to kill some of that time by going to see at least one movie. I’m not sure what I am going to see yet, but if things work out, I might do a double feature at an AMC because they have the $5 Tuesdays deal which I often like to take advantage of. After all, there are a decent number of movies that’ll be out that I want to see such as “Hobbs and Shaw,” “Midsommar,” “Crawl,” and “The Farewell.” I also have a couple 2019 movies that I just purchased on Blu-ray that I have yet to watch. Those include “Missing Link” and “Alita: Battle Angel,” so maybe I’ll shoehorn in a review of at least one of those films. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go check out “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” again! By the way, if you have yet to read my review of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” feel free to click the link at the end of the post to expose yourself to the latest piece of work Tarantino has to offer. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, do you have tickets to 2019’s Terrificon? What kind of tickets did you get? What days are you going? Or, since it’s on topic, who is one celebrity that you wouldn’t mind paying a lot of money for more than one autograph or photo op? I’ll go with one I haven’t met yet, so I guess I’ll say Ana de Armas. I loved her in “Blade Runner 2049” and yeah, she’s good looking. I could brag to my pals back at home that she’s my new girlfriend.

I mean, look at her! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD REVIEW

Will STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Be Shown On IMAX 70mm Film?

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last year, I created a post asking the following question. Will “First Man” be shown on IMAX 70mm film? The answer, no. This year, there is another movie that I have followed for some time that is making me ask the same question. Specifically, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Why? Because despite a majority of this decade’s “Star Wars” films getting 70mm IMAX releases, there are reasons to believe that “The Rise of Skywalker,” the final film in The Skywalker Saga, will miss the mark.

When J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” came out in December 2015, that released in a number of IMAX 70mm locations, along with standard 35mm and 70mm theaters. It also was projected on IMAX’s then new laser technology in other locations. While that’s not film based, it is a digital response to IMAX’s film projection. When it comes to being projected in IMAX 70mm, the following locations took action.

US/CANADA

Alabama
McWane Center IMAX Dome Theatre – Birmingham
IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville

California
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum – San Jose

Canada
Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre – Regina

Florida
Museum of Discovery & Science AutoNation IMAX – Ft. Lauderdale
IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry – Tampa

Indiana
IMAX, Indiana State Museum – Indianapolis

Iowa
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa – Des Moines

Missouri
Branson’s IMAX, Entertainment Complex – Branson
St. Louis Science Center OMNIMAX Theatre – St. Louis

Pennsylvania
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute– Philadelphia

Washington, DC
Lockheed Martin IMAX, National Air & Space Museum

Texas
Omni, Fort Worth Museum of Science & History – Fort Worth

INTERNATIONAL
LG IMAX, Darling Harbour – Sydney, Australia
The Science Museum – London, England

That’s 15 locations. That is less than the number of seasons of “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “NCIS,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Judge Judy,” “Dr. Phil,” “South Park,” “The Bachelor,” and the combined seasons for “Star Trek: The Original Series,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” also came out in certain IMAX 70mm locations, but the difference between that and “The Force Awakens,” aside from being a spinoff, is that the film was not shot specifically for 70mm IMAX projection. “The Force Awakens” was shot using IMAX branded cameras, and when a number of films were shot using that, IMAX presented the movie having those scenes fill the entire screen. This is true for many of their digital-based locations, as well as those running film. In fact, the film was shot completely in digital using an ARRI Alexa 65. Nevertheless, it still managed to hit 13 IMAX 70mm screens.

Alabama
IMAX, US Space & Rocket Center
IMAX Dome, McWane Center

California
AMC Universal CityWalk Stadium 19 & IMAX – Universal City
Esquire IMAX – Sacramento
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum

Canada
Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre

Florida
IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry

Iowa
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center Iowa

Indiana
IMAX, Indiana Stare Museum

Minnesota
IMAX Theatre, Minnesota Zoo

Missouri
OMNIMAX, St. Louis Science Center

Pennsylvania
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute

Texas
Omni Theatre Fort Worth Museum of Science & History

Granted, this was a starting list. I say so because “Rogue One” was shown in more IMAX 70mm theaters after its initial release, including one in Connecticut’s Maritime Aquarium, which is one of the closest venues of its kind to where I live. When it comes to this specific theater, they managed to do the same for “The Force Awakens.”

Then came “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” directed by Rian Johsnon. Much like its chronological predecessor, “The Force Awakens,” this was partially shot using IMAX cameras. I will say though, personally, I missed out on the IMAX experience for this film when it came out. But based on research, I did not miss much. Why? Multiple sources suggest that the film never had any scenes projected from top to bottom on IMAX 70mm screens. The entire movie was projected in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, which is conventional in the movie industry. The original IMAX-specific aspect ratio is 1.43:1. “The Force Awakens” had 5 minutes of IMAX footage intact. All five minutes was blown up to fill the brand’s screens. But for those who went to see “The Last Jedi” in IMAX, they may have gotten crystal clear images, but black bars up the wazoo. Turns out, as a matter of fact, IMAX was the only film format in which this movie happened to be presented. No standard 35mm or standard 70mm was available. And if viewers did manage to check out these types of IMAX screenings, chances are they flocked to one of these places.

US/CANADA

Alabama
IMAX Dome, McWane Center – Birmingham
IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville

California
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum – San Jose

Canada
Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre – Regina

Connecticut
IMAX, The Maritime Aquarium – Norwalk

Indiana
IMAX, Indiana State Museum – Indianapolis

Iowa
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa – Des Moines

Missouri
OMNIMAX, St. Louis Science Center – St. Louis

North Carolina
The Charlotte Observer IMAX Dome, Discovery Place – Charlotte

Pennsylvania
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute– Philadelphia

Texas
Omnitheatre, Fort Worth Museum of Science & History – Fort Worth

UK
London Science Museum – London

That’s 11 locations. That is less than the number of seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Supernatural,” “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” “Criminal Minds,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Ridiculousness,” “Bones,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Face Off,” “The Bachelorette,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Dallas,” “Two and a Half Men,” and “Love Connection.”

As for “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which released almost half a year after “The Last Jedi,” that was not filmed with any IMAX technology. It still released in the IMAX format however, going through a traditional DMR (Digital Media Remastering) process. Here are the theaters that presented “Solo: A Star Wars Story” in IMAX 70mm.

There aren’t any, the film was entirely released in digital formats.

That’s 0 locations. That is less than the number of seasons of “Freaks and Geeks,” “Firefly,” “Clone High,” “Swamp Thing,” “Whiskey Cavalier,” “The Michael J. Fox Show,” “Bam’s Bad Ass Game Show,” “Son of Zorn,” “Bordertown,” “Inhumans,” “Selfie,” “Heroes: Reborn,” “Ghosted,” “America’s Next Best Weatherman,” and “State of Georgia.” FYI, ALL OF THESE got cancelled after one season.

To be honest though, I can’t complain too much because the entire movie was shot digitally on ARRI Alexa cameras.

And when it comes to a good portion of the locations that have played a few of these recent “Star Wars” movies in 70mm, not only are they few and far between, but many of them rarely play Hollywood features. Many of these theaters simply show IMAX-distributed documentaries that are either new or cater to a theme that would associate with a venue. Not to mention, a glaring fraction of these are domes, and while I will say I rarely go to domed IMAX theaters, one thing to point out about them is the 180° style of the screen. With a number of cinema screens, it is sometimes easy to notice a slight curve they can provide, and traditional IMAX screens are no exception. Forget about a curve with an IMAX Dome, it’s practically a boulder sliced in half. Not only do they rarely show Hollywood features, but they also can have a quirky looking image when there are black bars involved. Granted, I have yet to see something like this for myself in person, but from what I’ve seen online, it’s almost weird looking. I almost wonder if it would turn off a good portion of general audience members.

History aside, let’s move onto the present and the future. Despite IMDb’s current claims that this film will be shot with IMAX cameras, no word of mouth from Disney, J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, etc., has said anything related to such a claim (except this one, based on brief research). After all, I don’t know for sure, it could have been inserted long before, or maybe just as soon as the film happened to be starting production. However, IMDb is also claiming that the movie will be presented in multiple film formats. These include 35mm, 70mm, and IMAX 70mm. By the way, they are also suggesting these were also formats used for shooting.

“Shot on 35mm, 70mm, and 70mm IMAX, this is the third Star Wars film to be shot in the IMAX format, the first film in the franchise to be shot on 70mm film, and the first Star Wars film since Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) to be shot entirely on celluloid.”

OK, I can buy this movie entirely being shot on film. After all, one of the things that J.J. Abrams wanted out of “Episode VII” was the nostalgia factor, which was partially brought to the table through filming the movie in celluloid, an action that the prequels neglected for the most part. But to be fair, “new technology” sometimes has a ring to it.

As for what technology was used specifically, I think we still need updated information on it. Because when it comes to technical specifications, that is still a mystery kept by those who made this film. Yes, there are articles suggesting a mixture of 35mm and 70mm cinematography in the movie, but many of them are from the end of 2016, a month before “Rogue One” came out. However, perhaps the most credible information I came across was this occasionally updated article as seen on fromthegrapevine.com. For those who are lazy, there is a suggestion via an image that this next “Star Wars” film will be shot in 70mm.

Granted, I highly doubt that this movie will be mostly shot in digital. The past two films in the trilogy have been shot using film for a good portion of the runtime, therefore to maintain a similar feel, Abrams must have said film was the way to go.

And with this information in mind, I will point out that IMAX has a vast history of showcasing movies that were not shot through their technology on their true projection format. The thing is however, that time happened back when the DMR process was starting to get into full swing. With IMAX’s jump into digital projection in 2008, it wasn’t too long before IMAX started getting picky with what films would be shown in their original format. “Rogue One” was a rare exception back when it came out in 2016.

In fact, let’s look at IMAX in 2018 and what they have done with this technology. Unfortunately, IMAX missed the opportunity to put “First Man,” their only new release that year shot with IMAX 70mm tech, in theaters catering to that format. They were shown in IMAX Laser theaters, which is a nice consolation, but having been in both venues for different movies, it’s not the same. The only “new” 70mm experience that came out was a limited 50th anniversary engagement of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Aside from that, there was a 10th anniversary limited engagement of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” which played around the same time period. There was another movie released in IMAX shot with their technology (Avengers: Infinity War), but that film was shot completely in digital. This allowed a complete fill of the screen in many, smaller, digital venues, but not for the venues IMAX was originally known for.

If you think I am pulling these facts out of my butt, let me just point out to you, I am not. There is a Wikipedia page that lists every single IMAX film that has gone through a DMR process. Yes, Wikipedia is not the most scholarly source of all time, but over the years, this has been pretty reliable for this subject matter.

List of IMAX DMR Films

In fact, if you scour the list, go to the section labeled “2019,” and scroll down to “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” you’ll notice it does not suggest there will be any IMAX 70mm screenings, nor does it say anything about the cinematic equipment. Granted, a lot of the information related to this does not exactly need to be displayed now, the movie does not even release until December. Even with that in mind however, it is slightly concerning. I can live with a lack of IMAX 70mm screenings if it wasn’t shot in that exact format, but if it was, I feel like we are gonna be in a “First Man” situation all over again. Although that movie flopped as far as I am aware so, who knows? It might have been for the best. I enjoyed the movie, in fact it was one of my favorites of the year, but regardless, it didn’t have proper financial legs.

It is perhaps slightly inevitable that “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” will be a financial success. I say SLIGHTLY inevitable, because while a number of recent Disney “Star Wars” flicks made over $1 billion at the box office, the most recent one, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” did not meet the financial standards of films that came prior to it, including the spinoff “Rogue One.” At the same time, it has things going for it. For one thing, it’s the conclusive chapter to The Skywalker Saga, it involves characters we have known for the past two films and even further into the past, Lando is back, and Palpatine seems to be making an appearance as well. It has the potential to win audiences and a portion of the fanbase overall. Well, that depends on how divided said fanbase is by the time this movie comes out, because it’s pretty ugly right now. And even though that ugliness is a thing, there are enough fans in the “Star Wars” community that could potentially show up for a new flick in the franchise.

If you ask me, I think Disney, Lucasfilm, Bob Iger, IMAX, among others would not have minded the idea of releasing the film in IMAX 70mm. Sure, “Solo” didn’t do as well as they would have hoped, but based on how that is a film that not many audiences asked for in the first place, added onto the prior success of films that came before it, they wouldn’t mind releasing the film in an IMAX 70mm format. They’re making more money with the Skywalker films compared to the spinoffs, and let’s face it, audiences care about Rey, they care about Kylo, they care about Chewie, they care about Lando, they care about BB-8. The praise is there, the studio just has to make a decision. Another factor to consider is the transition to go back to how Disney originally released these types of films. Specifically, by doing so in December. This is a good strategy because people are home for the holidays, kids are on break, and with a bunch of Oscar-bait films competing against each other, this blockbuster has a significant chance of standing out.

Do I want to see a reality where we get the opportunity to go check out “The Rise of Skywalker” in IMAX 70mm? I would, but I know it’s not certain. Given my clustered knowledge of how this movie is being shot, I don’t know if it is being shot in the IMAX format, but even if it isn’t, I would be willing to show up for an IMAX 70mm presentation simply because it is the clearest picture in existence. And… Disney, if you are planning on releasing this in IMAX 70mm… PLEASE… Consider releasing it at the Providence Place IMAX. It’s one of the closest true IMAX venues to my house, and one of the best theaters I have ever been to. I will flock there immediately if you release your film there in this specified format.

Am I being an obsessive nerd about this? Probably. Do I care? Hell no! In fact, with all statistics being considered, it makes me worried for the future of how IMAX movies are presented. Yes, we are likely getting Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” in IMAX 70mm next year, but are we simply doing so because it’s a Christopher Nolan film? Is it because of the director’s power in the industry? He’s my favorite director working today, but it’s still a question I can’t help but ask! “Star Wars” is a big franchise. And this latest film is seemingly shot in a big resolution. So why not let us as an audience look at the big picture?

YUP. PUN ABSOLUTELY INTENDED.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” hits theaters December 20th, 2019. I am looking forward (although I am also slightly apprehensive) to seeing how this sequel trilogy will conclude. I do have faith in J.J. Abrams, especially after the excellent job he did with “The Force Awakens.” It also seems inevitable that I am going to see the movie on opening night, even if I get access to a press screening before the movie hits theaters everywhere. As for IMAX, I don’t care what you do with this movie. If it is shot in your format, release it in 70mm. But based on the popularity of this franchise, consider that sort of release even if this movie was shot in a smaller format. What will happen? I don’t know, only time will tell! Thanks for reading this post! I just want to remind everyone that next week starts the second half of 2019, so I will be creating a mega-post containing a halftime report and a glimpse into the future of Scene Before. Be sure to look forward to that! Also, stay tuned for my second trailer of “Project 2020.” If you have seen one of my posts back in April, you know what I am talking about. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, do you have any thoughts on this “Rise of Skywalker” in IMAX 70mm matter? Or am I just batcrap crazy? Also, are you looking forward to “The Rise of Skywalker?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!