At some point in the last couple days, I crossed a threshold: I have now spent more time reading articles about The Rise of Skywalker than I did watching the actual movie, which clocks in at 2 hours, 22 minutes. I’ve absorbed hot takes, canonical references, fanboy screeds, thought pieces, a four-panel comic strip — no YouTubes, thank you — and a couple insider guides.

And I have to say: This movie that they’re writing about sounds a lot better than the one I watched a couple weeks ago.

Understand, I am a true fan going all the way back to 1977, when I was in second grade and A New Hope changed the trajectory of all our lives. And I liked The Rise of Skywalker. Sure, I did. It’s just…

the Force heals people now? Hux has been a mole the whole time? And Palpatine, for crying out loud?

Come on.

After we watched it, my son and I just sat in the car for a moment, trying to understand how a sequel could so thoroughly undo the film that came before it.

But then, through my aftermarket research, I descended into the particulars in the text. Yes! I see how Rey’s lightsaber is significant. I understand why Lando Calrissian came back into the storyline. I now know which ewok that was, jumping celebratorily on that one moon of Endor. I see all those loose ends director JJ Abrams was trying to tie off. I get it. I think I get it, anyway.

You know, back in 1977, I never got to see the original Star Wars because I was at my grandparents’ house while the rest of my family went to see it. I had to wait until VCRs came out to finally watch it in full.

Until then, I had to osmose what I could from the cultural artifacts around the movie: toys, games, comic books, trading cards, that ridiculous Christmas special and the like. Not that these things were any substitute for the actual movie, but I pretty much got the gist.

When I finally watched the whole thing — 1982, maybe? — it felt a little like going to church. I sat through three screenings before I tired of it.

The Rise of Skywalker is not that. This one’s a little better on paper.

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