The classic hero ship gets super-sized by Eaglemoss for their line of XL Editions and the model captures the majestic spirit of the vessel that shares in the final adventure of the Original Series crew as captained by Hikaru Sulu.
There are but a handful of ships that stand out in the minds of fans of Star Trek and among them, the USSExcelsior has as an impressive legacy as that of the ship it was designed to replace, the Constitution-class USS Enterprise. It’s first introduced on the big screen in Star Trek: The Search for Spock and then it was still in the testing stages of its career, hence the registry number NX-2000 and it was the first of its class. The Excelsior had earned the impressive moniker even then and was known as “The Great Experiment”.
Larger and sleeker than the Constitution-class ships the Federation had then had in service for decades, the Excelsior bolstered experimental propulsion called a “transwarp drive” and begun its shakedown in later years of the 23rd Century, before entering into full-active duty under Captain Hikaru Sulu in 2290. Abandoning the experimental drive and returning to more traditional, albeit more powerful, warp system, The USS Enterprise’s legendary helmsman captained the properly registered USS Excelsior NCC-2000.
The USS Excelsior would distinguish itself alongside with its captain and crew and engage along with the crew of the USS Enterprise to prevent the assassination attempt on the President of the Federation at the peace conference at Camp Khitomer; an event that began to mend relations between the Klingons and the Federation after the Klingon moon Praxis exploded and nearly plunged the warrior race headlong toward extinction. If not for the intervention of the Enterprise and Excelsior a renegade faction of terrorists would have succeeded in preventing peace talks.
Ship of the Line
Part of the continuing line of models in Eaglemoss Collections very ownStar Trek: The Official Starships Collection XL Editions the USS Excelsior NCC-2000 is spectacularly presented and will make a wonderful addition to any true fan’s collection. Measuring at an impressive 10-inches, this model isn’t a repaint of the previously issued USS Enterprise NCC-1701-B which is also an Excelsior-class ship (and much heftier than its predecessor). Made of a mix of die-cast and quality ABS materials, the sleeker Excelsior is more trimmed around the edges.
When comparing the two models, what immediately jumps out, is the significant depths of the secondary engineering section. The Excelsior drops more naturally and its silhouette is that of a space-faring luxury liner. The Enterprise-B has a more muscular appeal, especially given the added impulse engines and additional decks. The Excelsior-class of ships impressively endured well into the 24th Century and many ships in the class were still in service during the Dominion War which ended in 2375.
Under the command of Captain Hikaru Sulu, the USS Excelsior quickly achieved its own level hero-worship among fans, and the ship even appeared in a landmark episode of Star Trek: Voyager which revealed that the Voyager’s own Second Officer Tuvok, had served aboard the Excelsior early in his career in Starfleet. The USS Excelsior has been carefully recreated to capture it as it appeared on the big screen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country which was also significant as the final mission of the Original Series crew. The model includes a detailed 20-page magazine.
Check out the model of the USS Excelsior here:
USS Excelsior NCC-2000| Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection XL Edition | Eaglemoss Collections | $74.95 available from Eaglemoss Collections here.
Set for a theatrical release later this year Marvel Studios releases more information about its upcoming newest release ETERNALS which features a star-studded cast that includes Angelina Jolie and Kit Harrington!
This is going to be a very big year for Marvel Studios even though Avengers: Endgame is still very much on the minds (and hearts) of the cinematic universe’s fans, the studio is showing no signs of slowing itself down and preparing for the next big event that is certain to inspire an eager movie audience to fill those seats at the multiplex. Even with the launch of the recent subscription service Disney+ promising its own round of Marvel-based Original Series, the blockbusters are lining up and packing a punch!
The most anticipated film in the roster of upcoming releases is Marvel Studios Eternals which will feature an impressive gathering of A-list names among its cast of mostly obscure characters from the pages of Marvel’s comic book history. The epic tale of aliens and mythological themes was created by Jack “The King” Kirby and are very similar to the DC Comics “New Gods” which are also a race of otherworldly beings with powers far beyond those of mortal men. The Eternals are an alien civilization that has millions of years old and have lived in secret among humans.
As the newly released synopsis for the upcoming film suggests the all-powerful Eternals, an immortal race created by the Celestials, have been living on Earth, hiding in plain sight, but after the near-cataclysmic events of Avengers: Endgame an ancient enemy of theirs The Deviants have decided now is the perfect time for them to strike and resume an age-old confrontation that will have lasting repercussions throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the universe an open playing field and the Earth just a piece upon it, it is a prize many will seek to possess.
A Galaxy Far, Far Away…
Though the Eternals may not be as familiar to mainstream audiences as the Avengers, several Eternals have actually (over the years in the comics) appeared on the group’s roster of active members, including Sersi (played by Gemma Chan in the film) and Gilgamesh (Don Lee). Both are card-carrying Avengers and have been called to duty in the team’s own darkest hours. With the threat of Thanos and his Infinity Stones taken care of, could the arrival of Eternals herald an entirely new intergalactic adversary that would bring all the cinematic heroes together?
The Eternals enemies are known as The Deviants, a monstrous-looking “offshoot” race that is ruled by its thirst for tyranny and chaos. As the synopsis for Eternals suggests, a “death” among the Eternals brings the castes together, and it signals the coming of a dangerous enemy that will descend upon the Earth. After the “endgame” events, the Avengers are still licking their wounds, Spider-Man is far from making his way home, and Doctor Strange has his own crisis to deal with in the multiverse (has that film found its new director, by the way).
Given the successful run of the first decade of the Marvel Studios films under Kevin Feige, confidence is still at an all-time high with the direction the next decade is taking. Feige may be spreading the wealth among his team as he turns his attention to a new Star Wars film trilogy also for the parent company Disney, but there are still plenty of returning favorites on the horizon, including a new Spider-Man film, a sequel to the hit Black Panther and of course the stand-alone feature starring Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow out soon.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is truly proving eternal!
Marvel Studios ETERNALS starring Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington, and Kumail Nanjiani is directed by Chloé Zhao and will be released in theaters worldwide on November 6, 2020.
Facing impending doom and mourning the loss of one of their own, our heroes are introduced to the concept of the “paragons” among them. Seven heroes from across the multiverse that may be able to stop the “crisis” that’s consuming their world!
The searches for the heroic “paragons” begins as Part 2 of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover continues in Episode 9, Season 1 of Batwoman. For the latest character to inherit the cape and cowl of Gotham City’s Dark Knight, Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) is out of her natural element when it comes to battling Shadow Beings and traversing the multiverse. The able street fighter is more equipped to the trenches of darkened allies and the perilously high rooftops of her city. With The Batman missing in action, Kate has moved into her cousin Bruce Wayne’s inner sanctum and with the help of Lucas Fox (Camrus Johnson) appropriated his alter ego.
Audiences are now very familiar with Kate Kane’s Batwoman, especially after her significantly splashy induction into the “Arrowverse” in last year’s “Elseworlds” crossover. That storyline effectively set-up the existence of Gotham City on Earth-1 as well as confirmed the presence of “The Batman” (which had been considered an urban myth), though Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) is adamant — he is the first vigilante hero to take on the fight for justice. Debatable, perhaps, but Batwoman has proven she is a force all of her own to be reckoned with, though Kate is not comfortable with their presently cosmic predicament.
Though they may have been dealt a serious blow with the sacrifice of Oliver Queen at the conclusion of Part 1 (see Supergirl S5/E9), The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) reveals the existence throughout the multiverse of “Seven Paragons” — heroes that best embody the virtues of heroism. Borrowing a Waverider time-ship from an alternate-earth (Erath-74 to be precise) that comes packed with its own Mick Rory (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow castmate Dominic Purcell) our team learns that among them are 2 of the 7 paragons: Supergirl, Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) is the “Paragon of Hope” and White Canary, Sara Lance(Caity Lotz) is the “Paragon of Destiny”.
Her fellow Legend Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) is not at all surprised, but when The Monitor reveals that a missing paragon, “The Bat of the Future” supposedly The Batman of the “future-tense” Earth-99, Bruce Wayne may need to be indoctrinated into their cause, the revelation of the billionaire industrialist’s alter ego does trip Palmer’s fancy — Kate insists that they all keep that secret close and among themselves. Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) are intrigued to hunt down the next paragon, a Kryptonian — the “Paragon of Truth”. During the mission ops gathering, Harbinger (recurring Arrow guest star Audrey Marie Anderson) begins to stumble.
This is important because it establishes a significant plot point that is part of the “Crisis” canon. In the original 12-issue maxi-series by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez Lyla is corrupted by one of the Anti-Monitor’s shadow agents and slays The Monitor; this does not come as a surprise to him — he admits he had foreseen and anticipated her betrayal. As Part 2 opens up, Lyla reveals to Sara that she hasn’t told her husband John Diggle (David Ramsey) about Oliver’s sacrifice, even as Oliver’s daughter Mia and Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) attempt to resurrect the Green Arrow by dunking his body into a Lazarus Pit.
With the help of Legend magi John Constantine (Matt Ryan) they are able to find a working pit on Earth-18 and thinking that it’s a good idea drop, Oliver’s body in there — the predictable consequence unleashes a soulless and angry Green Arrow that nearly takes down his daughter Mia (Katherine McNamara). During this exercise, Batwoman and Supergirl travel to Earth-99 hoping to persuade Batman to help them save the multiverse, but there instead they find a crippled and battle-hardened Bruce Wayne (guest star Kevin Conroy) who warns them both, there is no hope and that it may be best to let the multiverse just die!
Iris West-Allan (Candice Patton) has joined Lois and Clark on their pursuit of the Superman that is the proper paragon, and warns the super-couple that Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) is determined to destroy all the Supermen of every earth! Lex is using the Book of Destiny to alter their fate, and after meeting with a powerless Clark Kent (Smallville’s Tom Welling) that rightly puts Lex in his place, they stumble upon an alternate earth’s Clark Kent, the Editor of the Daily Planet, who has a bit of gray in his temple and sadly has suffered his share of loss. The trio successfully recruits this Superman (Brandon Routh in a super-suit tailored after Kingdom Come) to help them, but Lex has other plans!
Manipulating the ancient prophecies inside the Book of Destiny, Lex turns Superman against Superman! As the two take the skies above Metropolis in a showdown of might, the two intrepid reporters, Lois and Iris are left to contend with Lex’s mess. Knocking him unconscious they are able to wrestle the Book of Destiny and figure out how to free Superman (Routh) from its magical grip! Eventually, they all return to the Waverider orbiting Earth-1 and bring with them the “Paragon of Truth” and perhaps a means closer to defeating the Anti-Monitor. Unfortunately, Kate and Kara are not as successful in their mission to bring the “Bat of the Future” on board.
More comfortable fighting mobs of underworld criminals in the back alleys of Gotham, the city’s latest caped avenger finds herself in the middle of a cosmic quest and out of her depths, in Part 2 of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event.
Still More Spoiler Alert!
Meanwhile, Ray has appeared to have succeeded in putting together his “Paragon Detector” but when he fires it up, he is disappointed with the results. The device instead of seeking outwards places the next paragon within the Waverider. In a stunning turn, the Monitor reveals that Kate and Kara were indeed successful in their mission to locate the next paragon and names Batwoman the “Paragon of Courage”! Along with the Superman of Earth-96, the heroes have now assembled four of the paragons in order to help save the multiverse, but even as they come closet to achieving their goal, stepping out from the shadows is the real villain of the story!
Using the Harbinger as a conduit to keep tabs on his adversary, The Anti-Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) sets in motion his own plan to thwart the heroes and bring about the destruction of the multiverse, leaving in its wake an anti-matter universe at his disposal!
Still not comfortable with a role in this cosmic odyssey or the fact that now she has been tasked with carrying the mantle of a paragon, Kate confides in Kara her concerns. In true form, Kara informs the newer heroine that her place among them is properly earned and that as the Batwoman, she has demonstrated her courage and worthiness. Supergirl then hands her a picture, a souvenir she took from Bruce Manor of Earth-99 — it is a picture of that earth’s Kate and her twin sister in happier, hopeful times. Kate doesn’t reveal to the Maid of Might that she has taken a souvenir of her own — Bruce Wayne’s piece of kryptonite which he used to kill the Superman of Earth-99.
What’s the Endgame?
Part 2 of our crossover epic, is perhaps a little tougher to get through than its previous installment, and certainly a lot clunkier to navigate than Part 3, The Flash episode rounding out the first arc of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” storyline. The “middle story” in an extended piece is often difficult because it relies on setting more details up that gets our protagonists over the hump and closer toward their resolution. This episode of “Crisis” relied on the Batwoman writing team and showrunners to deliver a very complex piece of the puzzle, while also integrating various cameos and featured roles that were dependent on carrying a certain amount of emotion.
The inclusion of Kevin Conroy, the voice behind the Emmy® Award-Winning Batman: The Animated Series as the hopelessly fatigued and bitter Bruce Wayne was a particularly genius move and allowed for the episode’s star, Ruby Rose to really heft her weight even though she is still new to the “Arrowverse” of characters. It was also important to place her alongside Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl and solidifying the obvious chemistry the two actors share, giving the audience an opportunity to admire the “World’s Finest” team-up potential the two put on full display. For fans, the most significant moment still was the appearance of Tom Welling’s Clark Kent giving Smallville fans a nostalgic nod.
Overall, this episode feels narratively choppy and lacks cohesion, especially with the 3 separate missions going on, but it’s well character-driven and amply showcases Ruby Rose. As potentially the “new kid on the block” her Batwoman comes out on top and demonstrates sizable chemistry when paired with Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl — this will bode well as the “Crisis” comes to a conclusion. No doubt giving the writing staff opportunity for “World’s Finest” crossovers between Supergirl and Batwoman.
Batwoman | “Crisis of Infinite Earths” Part 2 | Episode 9, Season 1 | Directed by Laura Belsey and Written by Don Whitehead & Holly Henderson | Original Airdate: 12/9/2019
Batwoman airs Sunday Nights @ 8pm EST on The CW and returns with new episodes in 2020.
Dance Goddess Kristine W is back with a new single, more music and a new attitude! Her new single “Just a Lie” is a revelatory look inside her own experience with love and lies. She’s never been one to mince words!
The dance music landscape owes a lot to Kristine W. When her groundbreaking 1996 album Land of the Living hit the scene, it revolutionized and properly legitimized dance and house music as a formidable player in mainstream. With chart-topping hits like “Feel What You Want”, “One More Try” and the album’s title track, Kristine W inspired the club scene of the 90s and brought about the dawn of the Big Room Anthem, paving the way for super-star DJs like Junior Vasquez and Rollo to become highly sought after producers and remixers. It was an era unlike any in contemporary music, before the rapid commercialization of pop music.
The changing tide forced Kristine W to evolve in a way that few other artists could match. In order to remain a significant player on the field, Kristine W went the independent route which gave her more control over her music, how it was released and especially who she chose to collaborate with. It’s kept her relevant, allowed her to pursue other genres like jazz,and reintroduced her classic dance anthems to an entire generation well into the new millennium. Her tenacity has turned Kristine W into an icon, an unflappable advocate within the LGTBQ community and she continues to break barriers with her innovative sound and visuals!
She’s Got Issues!
Never one to shy away from controversy, Kristine W has often worn her heart on her sleeve, especially when it comes to her music. She’s fully cognizant of how devoted her audience is, and how closely they hang onto every word she says — there are are some very deep themes in Kristine W’s music (and there have always been). In her latest single “Just a Lie” the first off of her upcoming album The Issues Episode 1: Love and Lies set to debut in February on her Fly Again Music label, she reveals the heartache of loves loss and deep betrayal, citing the inspiration for the track on her own divorce.
“Frankly, it has been a lot of work,” the artist said, “but I firmly believe in the power of music and it has certainly helped me through the toughest episodes of life.” The track was originally about death and loss, but quickly evolved into an examination of her marriage which lead to divorce. “I realize now how similar divorce is to a death,” Kristine W explained. “It’s mourning the loss of the relationship, the breakup of the family, the betrayal — so many things. The grieving is intense.” Like she has so many times before, she set the experience to music. Collaborating with Bob Sandee / Subgroover (aka Crossnaders) for the tracks funky, electro house vibe.
Check out the video for Kristine W’s new single “Just a Lie” here:
Kristine W | “Just a Lie” the new single from the the upcoming album The Issues Episode 1: Love and Lies is released through Kristine W’s own label Fly Again Music Production and is available for Digital Download pre-order here on iTunes for $7.99.
For upcoming tour dates and appearance goto Kristine W website kristinew.com for exclusive music and content.
Some worlds will live and some worlds will die as this season’s DCTV primetime crossover event promises to send The CW series of shows into a tailspin as the classic comic book comes to life!
Holy crimson skies of death is the understatement of the month! In the opening moments of Episode 9, Season 5 of Supergirlit looks like the DCTV multiverse had met its match! A wave of merciless anti-matter appeared to be moving across space making short work of prominent and all-too-familiar locales including Earth-89, the earth of director Tim Burton’s Batman and Earth-X, the Nazi-occupied alternate earth under the protection of The Ray (Russell Tovey). Even Earth-9 which is designated as the home of the DC Universe Original Series content including Titans and Doom Patrol is wiped out in the blink of an eye!
Earth-66 also faces its own annihilation as an unassuming ward (Burt Ward, that is) of billionaire Bruce Wayne walks a particularly famous pooch through the bright streets of Gotham City as the skies turn blood-red signaling the arrival of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths”and Part 1 of The CW’s annual crossover event. At the conclusion of the previous year’s event, “Elseworlds” set up the introduction of “Crisis” when it appeared that an omnipotent interloper named The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) was perceived to be testing the mettle of our heroes including Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), The Flash (Grant Gustin) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) in a contest of wills.
The Monitor has continued to interject himself into the various CW primetime series mostly teasing the fates of Oliver Queen and Barry Allen respectfully, and recently paid a visit to the Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) on Supergirl. Kara herself proved to be very surprised to learn that the strange visitor had a presence inside their part of the multiverse, having considered The Monitor an Earth-1 villain after facing off against the alien in a stand-off that included the appearance (and almost immediate disappearance) of The Flash of Earth-90 (John Wesley Shipp).
Just like in the 12-part maxi-series published by DC Comics that promised to redefine the entirety of the then 50-year chronology of the imprint, the Monitor’s agent Harbinger, Lyla Michaels (Arrow recurring guest star Audrey Marie Anderson) recruits the heroic first line of defense against the anti-matter wave. Harbinger brings The Flash, The Legends: White Canary (Caity Lotz) and Ray Palmer, The Atom (Brandon Routh) and Batwoman (Ruby Rose) to Earth-38, the home of Supergirl, even rescuing her cousin Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) from the path of the anti-matter wave which decimates Argo City.
The heroes are gathered and a part of the Monitor’s plan is set in motion as an all-out effort to save Earth-38 begins! They are tasked with defending a Quantum Tower that has emerged in the heart of National City; it is the only thing that is able to keep the anti-matter wave at bay, but the tower is under siege from an army of Shadow Beings sent by their as yet unseen enemy. In the meantime, Supergirl’s friends including her sister Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) are themselves working to evacuate the planet’s population to Earth-1 using a series of alien lifeboats. Alex enlists the help of their onetime ally Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) to create a portal and safe passage to Earth-1.
Unfortunately, even our heroes’ most valiant effort is leading to failure. The anti-matter wave may have been only temporary slowed down; the Shadow Beings continue to push forward on their attack of the Quantum Tower, and The Monitor has no other choice but to rescue the heroes from themselves. He is able to get them all out of danger, with the exception of Green Arrow. Oliver Queen stays behind and sacrifices himself to give the lifeboats enough time to escape the fate of Earth-38. Thanks to Oliver’s efforts, 3 billion souls from Earth-38 are evacuated to Earth-1 and Mia Smoak (Katherine McNamara) his daughter from the future inherits her father’s legacy.
Just as Oliver Queen takes his last breath, the surviving heroes are suddenly joined by a new stranger. Although he wears the face of a friend, a Wells from one of the parallel-earths of the multiverse Pariah (Tom Cavanagh) is cursed to bear witness to the tragedy; it is his penance for releasing their true enemy, the being known as The Anti-Monitor. Although it was foretold by The Monitor that Oliver Queen would meet his end during the coming “crisis”, this is not the way the hero was supposed to die, and though his sacrifice saved many lives, it has not stopped the threat of the anti-matter wave which is moving towards the focal point of Earth-1, and soon there will be nothing left!
With a story by Supergirl showrunner Robert Rovner and Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim “Crisis on Infinite Earths” Part 1 is a cheerfully thrilling adaptation inspired by the original material. Launching the crossover on its breakneck path, the first hour has merit for placing the heroes inside of the proverbial blender of possibilities that bringing such an epic storyline to life entails. From the heroes gathering to the appearance of the Quantum Tower, these plot points are practically ripped from the books themselves and would make Marv Wolfman and George Pérez proud. The appearance of the Shadow Beings is also enough to make a fanboy quiver with glee!
Married (and some might say limited) to the existing show narratives, the crossover which historically marks the television winter hiatus for the series, very ably worked in to naturally fit every one of the “Arrowverse” shows, Part 1 was undoubtedly at the mercy of wrapping up storylines including Arrow which is nearly at the end of its final season, and Supergirl just rounded out an untethered Season 5 arc that pitted Kara against Lena Luthor and a mythological villain that left little impact on its audience. With the destruction of Earth-38 in Part 1, Supergirl and her friends find themselves without a proper home and all the heroes are mourning the fall of Oliver Queen.
What’s the Endgame?
Marc Guggenheim has suggested that the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event was always in the cards for the inhabitants of the “Arrowverse” but admittedly the executive producer has said, that aside from a plot note that was taking shape in The Flash and introduced in the Pilot that launched in 2014, he could never have imagined that they would be able to pull off such a huge story. With six series currently on the air and on The CW it seemed inevitable especially with the decline of event television giving way to wave of subscriber services and binging becoming more common, that something “big” would be necessary especially as “superhero fatigue” set in.
With Arrow star Stephen Amell ready to sign-off and the show that “started it all” wrapping up with its Eighth Season, the timing seemed perfect, and with Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti and their team of diehard fans running the show, this seemed like the most ideal trajectory to provide their flagship show with an epic finale as well as revitalize the standing series including The Flash, Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow which would benefit from a little retooling as the newbies Black Lightning and Batwoman carve their own identities. “Crisis” may feel like a natural means to an end and a way to clean house, making way for some fresh talent like Stargirl in the spring.
Supergirl | “Crisis of Infinite Earths” Part 1 | Episode 9, Season 5 | Directed by Jesse Warn and Written by Robert Rovner & Marc Guggenheim with a teleplay by Derek Simon & Jay Faerber | Original Airdate: 12/8/2019
Supergirl airs Sunday Nights @ 9pm EST on The CW and returns with new episodes in January.
Promising to wrap up 40 years of storytelling, the latest episode is filled with startling revelations, larger than could be imagined space battles, travels to distant planets and beyond, ending with the return of a major villain determined to tip the scales of good versus evil!
Here we are! Some several generations later, after redefining the movie-going experience (not to mention the merchandising of a viable narrative) we’ve reached what the filmmakers are promising is the final, final arc one of the cinemas most long-running franchises. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker carries the epitomes privilege of chronicling itself as “Episode IX” of the story first realized on the screen in writer/director George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope. Released in 1977 to a throng of fans that would sell out multiplexes and line-up for hours just for the opportunity to be transported to a galaxy far, far away.
According to Lucas, the cinematic saga was always meant to focus on the legacy of the Skywalker family. The Original Trilogy centered on the redemption of Darth Vader, whose son, Luke Skywalker (a farm boy turned legendary knight) never gave up on the good in his father, Anakin before becoming the evil Sith Lord Vader. The prequels, released near the start of the new millennium, would narrate the fall of Anakin, from wide-eyed youth through his early years as a hero of a galactic war, and 40 years later, the final trilogy would complete the circle. After having defeated the Empire, a new evil has risen to spread tyranny on a fragile republic, and once again the will of Skywalker is called upon.
Movie fans, especially fans of the established canon, had been convinced the story had been told. Even with the connective franchise supplementary series that surfaced including the animated Clone Wars and eventual Rebels stories, the tale of the heroes at the conclusion of Episode VI Return of the Jedi appeared to have come to its natural conclusion. George Lucas himself had even said that there would be “no” Episodes VII-IX. After Disney acquired Lucasfilm and in effect everything related to Star Wars the fate of the future of the film franchises was tossed asunder. Under the new management of longtime colleague Kathleen Kennedy, Star Wars would return.
So, you’ve been warned! This review will discuss some key moments of the latest addition Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.After the tumultuous critical response of Episode VIII The Last Jedi the ringmaster responsible for re-energizing the “revival” with Episode VII The Force Awakens J. J. Abrams was brought in to practically retcon the entirety of that feature which was helmed by Rian Johnson. When Kennedy brought Johnson in for Episode VIII the filmmaker had looked at the notes provided by Abrams, and he asked if he could vier in a slightly different direction. With Kennedy’s blessing, the result was perhaps the most un-Star Wars movie of the entire series.
Not that there was anything wrong with that. Johnson introduced some very interesting ideas in The Last Jedi: a duplicitous third party that was possibly playing both sides of the fence, supplying weapons to the tyrannical First Order and the fledgling Resistance army battling the good fight. It also tore the new trilogy’s trinity into three separate storylines apart from one another, and the worse of it (by many fan standards) it turned Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) into an aging hermit; a cynic who was once considered the only hope left in the galaxy had run out of it entirely. In his place, the new Jedi apprentice Rey (Daisy Ridley) was set adrift on a course of uncertainty.
In this Age of Immediacy, with the internet and social networking dominating the attention spans of the general[buying] audience, especially the rabid fandom that has risen to inherit this franchise, there is something that becomes undoubtedly compromised. One of the benefits of the original trilogy was the natural evolution of the main trio of characters at the center of the narrative that is allowed to evolve. Luke, Leia, and Han are brought together in the first film and share in the adventure, eventually destroying the Empire’s ultimate weapon. In the sequel, the trio all start together but are set on separate paths that ultimately lead them to a dark place.
Cut to Episode IX, the trinity is seen united on screen sharing in an adventure for the first time; in the previous installments Rey, Finn and Poe are fighting their adversaries or are facing their challenge on separate fronts, but all on a trajectory heading in a similar direction. The first half of Episode IX feels the most nostalgic because its reminiscent of the bond that is built by the original heroes and is solidified as legendary by the time Luke, Leia and Lando infiltrate Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine to rescue the carbon encased Han Solo. They’re a band of heroes — a family — formidable and aware. They are a force to be reckoned with and the audience is happy to see them all together.
In Episode iX when Poe, Finn, and Rey follow the trail of the film’s MacGuffin — a “Wayfinder” a mystic device that will lead them straight to their force-sensitive quarry — the chemistry among them is evident, but it’s fair to understand that they hardly have known one another. These three young people that have faced crisis after crisis since embarking on freeing the galaxy from evil and teamed up with the Resistance led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) but haven’t the band of the original film’s paragons. It’s deficient, to say the least especially when the audience must have an investment in their journey.
As the adventure begins, the trio learns they must travel to a new planet in search of a prize. It’s a running gag through the scene. Finn (John Boyega) and Rey are caught completely unaware of Poe’s shady affairs before becoming an able fighter pilot in the Resistance, and Poe (Oscar Isaacs) is not comfortable with the intimate shorthand between Finn and Rey, or the possibility that they may be keeping secrets from him. It’s an interestingly different dynamic, and would have probably worked well in a “middle act” of a trilogy, but “Rise” is the conclusion of the story. This is the end of the line for our heroes and they are coming to the final moments of their journey together.
It’s a thrill to see them working together especially when they are forced to confront the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his gang of thugs (that’s how I’ll describe) The Knights of Ren. Kylo reveals to Rey that she has a greater purpose to fulfill, and Rey isn’t prepared to listen until she unpredictably unleashes a new power that proves deadly. There is a very familiar enemy among them, one that may hold the key to Rey’s past — it would seem that the power-hungry Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is still pulling the strings in the balance of the force, and it’s no surprise that he’s set his claws into Rey and Ren.
Return, Revenge, Rise, Rehash?
There is a nostalgic thrill and wonder in the return to Lucas’ galaxy. It hardly feels like we’ve left, especially given how there have been expanded escapades to this universe throughout its 40-year history, whether we’re discussing the prequels, animated adventures or the newly minted Original Series that are surfacing on Disney+. With every visit, the mythology has had an opportunity to grow and fire our imaginations. With the advent of the prequels, Lucas was able to complete (and in some cases begin) the journey of many of his original characters. Where these sequels have failed is in validating that the story wasn’t already come full circle.
Obviously, with Disney’s purchase of the Lucasfilm franchise, it needed to come out of the ballpark swinging, and the powers that be believed that the best way to capitalize on Star Wars was to give the fandom a continuation of the Skywalker legacy. If that was the case, then perhaps a little more time and care should have been devoted to bringing that idea to life, in much the same way that the other big Disney franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, had shown great restraint in elaborating on its shared universe of Marvel superheroes in its decade of box office dominance. It feels especially with The Rise of Skywalker that the filmmakers [Kennedy, Abrams] just hit on the “beats”.
The tactic was extremely beneficial to audiences coming into The Force Awakens easing them back into a cinematic universe that they hadn’t been to in over 3 decades, but it was hardly necessary and oft time predictably executed. By the time that Kennedy recruited Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi that director appeared determined to upset the apple cart at whatever the cost, but with even less care for consequence. The divergent tactic of that installment threw everyone for a loop, and when Abrams was brought back into the fold, clearly in an effort to clean up the mess, it may have been a lot more sense to have put the pieces back together much slowly and not with due haste.
Star Wars | Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker feels like it was rushed, pieced together and not methodically thought out. Narratively there are many very interesting points, that had Abrams and his team focused on not tying up could have instead set in motion the next generation of characters that we’ve hardly gotten the time to know. Instead, the feature digs into “what has worked before” and played to those key points, checking off the boxes as we went. If George Lucas proved anything with his original saga and prequels, it’s that sometimes the unpredictable is far more interesting especially when it’s given to the telling from a certain point of view.
Rise is a rollercoaster — the kind that you’ve been on before and doesn’t recognize immediately, but when you realize that it’s just been refurbished and slightly retooled to freshen it up — it’s too late! You’ve committed and been exhilarated as if for the first time! You can recall what made the journey fun the first time and again you succumb to the nostalgia.
Star Wars | Episode IX | The Rise of Skywalker starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaacs and John Boyega directed by JJ Abrams is in theaters now.