Happy New Year everyone.

The theme of this column is heroes. It is both about my resolution this year and my review. When I think heroes, I think the Hero’s Journey. And Joseph Campbell’s concept replays itself over and over again in pop culture. The biggest representation of that is Star Wars. And yes, to me, the holidays and Star Wars go hand in hand. Whenever Star Wars has come out the last few years it would be what I would do with my sister around Christmas day. Rise of the Skywalker is the first movie I saw in Vancouver, on my own in this new frontier.

What did I think of it?

It’s good. It isn’t great, but it’s good.

I think we need to establish something here. While it is true that The Last Jedi was a very divisive movie, I feel the first act of Rise of Skywalker tried way too hard to change course from some of the revelations of the movie. This prevents this movie from being great. The first act is a hot mess. And I mean a drunken, confused mess. The writing seemed rushed and there was so much plot in this that there are moments as a viewer you just come up for air. While I don’t agree with some of the decisions in Last Jedi, I have to acknowledge that some of the choices were quite bold, and I think going the way they chose to go here cheapened some things in the previous two movies.

The worst thing in my mind is Snoke himself. The fact that you see Snoke being grown in a sith laboratory does take away from what little awesomeness he still had left. While everyone does love the idea of the Emperor returning one final time, as Ian Mcdermid is a delight in the role he plays, It does make Snoke’s confrontation with Rey and Kylo in Last Jedi a little less impactful. There are a lot of other little things I could nitpick hard (and I’m sure others already have) but that one got to me. The other major plothole I thought in the whole story? Chewie living. How did he survive Rey’s force lightning?

Now going past the hot mess, I really like that Rise of the Skywalker was Rey’s story and I really loved how one line built upon the concept of Rey’s parents being nobody. That was nice writing and it put the series back on more familiar tracks. Who is she? Where did she come from? And what did she fight for? For two movies you wonder, but this one gets to the heart of the matter. And it’s here the movie works. Rey being Palpatine’s granddaughter makes a lot of sense and it fits the narrative of the Star Wars cycle itself. It also makes Kylo Ren the perfect foil for her. Rey, from a “bad” family cycle, chose to do the right thing, while Kylo chose the dark side in spite of being descended from Leia and Han Solo. I like that parallel and in many ways, it is the heart of this story.

Of course, there is growth with Finn and Poe as well. Poe becoming the head of the resistance after Leia’s demise, and his questions of where he goes from here are very poignant. How do you follow someone like that? And Lando answered best. “We had each other.”

There are a lot of well thought out scenes and reunions and farewells. This all, of course, leads to the final battle between Ben Solo, Rey, and Palpatine. While there was no doubt of the outcome, it was a fun finale to the whole saga.

I love the message of this movie and this trilogy. Now again, it’s not the greatest thing ever. Lots of things aren’t talked about, and there are still once you are done this, questions. Think too hard, and the movie’s flaws are apparent.
But what makes me like Rise of the Skywalker, and this particular trilogy, compared to the previous trilogy of Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, is that all the characters, old and new, are people you can relate to. You can appreciate the interactions between Poe and Finn. It feels really genuine, as are the interactions between Rey and Finn, r2d2 and c3po, and everyone you see there. There are nice callbacks and this trilogy for all its flaws is fun.

I recommend watching Rise of Skywalker, provided you don’t expect that it will top the original trilogy. It won’t. But if you want to watch a fun movie with characters you’ll like and route for, and can prove that heroes can come from anywhere then this is for you. That was my Star Wars experience for the holidays. Feel free to tell me why I’m right or wrong in the comments below.

The Business

So this is 2020. I mentioned the hero’s journey above, and this year is about mine. I took some big chances heading out here this year and I’m going to continue to do so for the next year. I made the decision that I would walk out of my comfort zone this year and that is the goal. I’m finding that person I want to be, my inner hero, and I want that person to come to light as much as possible. That is my goal. I’m chasing every dream, I’m seeking my way into this new world I’m creating for myself. I wish for each and every reader the same thing. Seek that inner-hero and go for it, whatever that it is for you.

This week’s podcast feature’s the incredible Danika Stone. We talk about her books, cosplay, gaming, how she stays on top of tasks and much more. Listen here: Also, I’m on the radio today promoting my novel the Cloud Diver. Stay tuned for next week when I actually have a release date.

Now for sure, next week I’ll be writing about a tale of two Greg Paks, a Fonda Lee, and more. Stay inspired out there, and keep doing your thing. I’m rooting for you.

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