The Saga Concludes. Review: The Rise Of Skywalker

It’s no secret that with the release of Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker, this is the end of the Star Wars saga that has entertained legions of fans for over 42 years. The story of Skywalker concludes without its creator George Lucas’ involvement as has been the case for the entire final trilogy. J.J. Abrams is once again the man behind the final trilogy and its final installment.

The story of Rey and her journey learning the force and battle against The First Order continues as does that of Kylo Ren, son of Leia and Han Solo and his rise to Supreme Leader of The First Order. Kylo Ren has now been contacted by Emperor Palpatine who was long thought to have been killed by Kylo Ren’s grandfather, Darth Vader. Palpatine is now out to put someone new in his place and Ren is set to kill the Emperor and take power for himself.

Poe and Finn are out searching the galaxy once again and return to help Rey fight a battle, she feels she needs to fight alone. Rey has come far in her training thanks to General (Princess) Leia, who has been added with old footage and a bit of movie magic.

While the final chapter has a somewhat muddled story line as well as some unnecessary turns it does do the purpose of closing out the saga with very little left to wonder about the future of the characters involved. Abrams attempts to have a few surprise moments, but I found myself not really surprised by any turns that the story took. I think the reason for this is because there aren’t many more things that surprise Star Wars fans at this point also because too big of a surprise could lead to too many open-ended questions when it is all over.

One thing is for certain, it was time for the story to end. While we all know this is NOT the end of Star Wars movies and shows and who knows what else? It IS the end of Skywalker’s and that universe in the Star Wars cannon and I think that is a good thing. It is time for all new creations of characters and creatures and stories. The success of The Mandalorian and the greatness of its creator Jon Favreau shows that there are plenty of people worthy of creating these stories and staying true to the galaxy far far away.

The saga is over and it’s a good thing despite the fact it may be bittersweet for some. We as fans got what we wanted for so long even if we may not all be completely pleased with what we got, this is how it ends and it has been something truly special in cinematic history.

Marriage Story: Review

As I get older as a movie fan, I have come to hope that once a year, a new movie will come out that I will like above all the others released. All I want is to be able to say “this was “the best” or “my favorite” of the year” and not be in doubt about my favorite. Last year without question I felt A Star Is Born was not only my favorite, but I strongly felt it was the best movie of the year.

While the year is not over, and there are many more films for the year to see, I feel very confident that I’ve seen what my favorite movie of the year is. At the time of this writing is the best movie of the year with Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver.

I remember thinking after my first viewing of A Star Is Born last year that it had been several years since a movie made me feel so much all at once, and yet just a year later I see a film that has undoubtedly equaled that, if not eclipsed last years’ experience.
Marriage Story takes you down the road that Nicole and Charlie’s haven chosen when they decide to divorce. They both share demanding careers as well as one son named Henry. They start out trying to be as accommodating and supportive of each other as possible by going through mediation.

The mediation process soon crumbles, and Nicole heads to L.A. with Henry to begin working on a T.V. series while Charlie continues to direct theater in NYC. Location ultimately becomes the most significant and most contentious point of the divorce. Nicole quickly finds herself in the hands of a high priced L.A. divorce attorney while Charlie is struggling to keep up with his ever-growing career that is soon moving to Broadway. Charlie continues to try and stay close to his son and be as accommodating as possible while not giving up.

The emotion and realism that is woven into the film through Baumbach’s script and the actor’s portrayals are nothing short of a perfect storm. The look and feel are truly timeless, and you could be watching Kramer Vs. Kramer or a John Cassavetes film because the story and characters are so paramount that you can’t help but fixate your attention on them.

Marriage Story takes you through the heartbreak and frustration of the ending of a marriage and how it truly is like a grieving process. Just as you feel you’ve chosen sides and defined the enemy, something shows the other side of the tale from the other party.

When it is all said and done, you are left heartbroken and just grateful that everyone made it through unscathed, and you get the genuine feeling that everyone will be ok and taken care of, which is all we can ask for in life anyway. I haven’t gotten as good at predicting awards, at least winners, as I used to be. Still, I would be genuinely dumbfounded not to see this film get nominated all over its possible destinations because its just too good not to recognize. Marriage Story is a movie that, at the end of the credits, I always will say to myself, “It’s because of movies like this, that I love movies!”