That rock in the pit of your stomach that’s keeping you from being excited for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is totally warranted. The backlash Star Wars: The Last Jedi received resulted in Disney walking on eggshells for the final installment of this new trilogy.
What we receive is a film that is too safe for its own good. It’s formulaic, it’s boring, and its co-writer and director J. J. Abrams ignores nearly everything established in The Last Jedi for a conclusion that is so cautious that it fails to leave any sort of lasting impression.
Abrams basically lifted the storyline from A New Hope for The Force Awakens and has done something similar for The Rise of Skywalker.
For the end of the Skywalker saga, Abrams has taken nearly everything from Return of the Jedi besides Ewoks and has utilized it as this one-way path with no detours and no chance of deviation.
As someone who sees a ton of movies every year, seeing change in cinema and films that stand out over mediocrity because they’re unique and different is a craving that is rarely satisfied.
Regardless of what you think of The Last Jedi and The Mandolorian, at least they’re offering us stories in the Star Wars universe that aren’t just frozen carbonite copies of the original Star Wars trilogy.
The general consensus of the movie going public and the majority of Star Wars fans is that The Last Jedi is trash that shouldn’t exist. The Rise of Skywalker materialized because of the fan’s reactions to The Last Jedi; this is the film you should congratulate yourself for if you hated The Last Jedi; if you fall into that category, then congratulations and hopefully you enjoy it. But for everyone else this Disney Star Wars trilogy has rolled over and died without so much of a whimper.
The visuals and action sequences of the film are extraordinary. The film opens with a Kylo Ren sequence set in slow-motion as he slaughters a ton of alien innocents while receiving a certain artifact essential to the new storyline in this film.
This is followed up by Poe’s lightspeed skipping sequence in the Millenium Falcon and the, “they fly now,” Stormtrooper chase. All of these sequences offer thrills, excitement, and gorgeous special effects.
John Williams score is as loud, triumphant, and celebratory of a 42-year-old franchise as it’s ever been. Babu Frik is cool even with the small amount of screen time he has. He’s this miniature droidsmith with a short-lived snarkiness that rivals that of Watto and Salacious B. Crumb.
C-3PO is at his most humorous and poignant this time around and Kylo Ren certainly has his moments in between the turd sandwich that is the entirety of his atrocious side story.
The bad certainly outweighs the good in The Rise of Skywalker though. The similarities between this film and Return of the Jedi become too blatant to be enjoyable; the teasing of the most powerful character joining the dark side, Rey’s training, Poe and Rey arguing like Han and Leia, Palpatine’s involvement, a fateful final war looming over everyone’s heads, and Kylo Ren feeling like the millennial version of Darth Vader. The homage is so apparent that it begins to feel lazy.
While the visuals are stunning, pretty colors, impressive explosions, and pew pew laser sequences can only get you so far.
It’s as if Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic learned nothing from attempting to recreate younger versions of Princess Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One. Carrie Fisher’s resurrection through unused footage from The Last Jedi and/or The Force Awakens is awful to look at. It comes off as clunky, fake, and obviously computer generated or at least computer tampered with.
Completely moving on from the Leia character seems like it would have been the better option, especially when you consider the direction they go with Leia in The Rise of Skywalker. It seems like they milked something that should have been disposed of solely because this last film was supposed to be centered around Leia before Fisher’s unexpected death.
The Knights of Ren are completely useless. Need some lackeys to walk in slow motion, stand around wearing black, or keep totally still in the desert while the camera revolves around them? The Knights of Ren have got you covered.
Lando really only appears when nobody expects it, as well. Most of the film has Poe, Finn, or Rey acting cryptic and vague to the other two as they venture off individually.
The Rise of Skywalker attempts to unveil this planet-shattering epiphany that the characters work better together and as a family than as a solo unit, which seems like something they should have realized by the end of The Force Awakens or at least halfway through The Last Jedi.
When they’re not acting ambiguous, The Resistance is mostly reacting to “shocking” character moments who pop up sort-of surprisingly at inopportune moments.
Keri Russell’s new character Zorri Bliss also falls into this category. She has connections to Poe, points a gun at people, and knows how to pilot a ship but otherwise doesn’t do much of anything besides be angry at Poe.
There’s this tug of war between The Force and the dark side that is so familiar and uninteresting. The culmination of what transpires between Rey and Kylo Ren is so dull that it’s practically sickening. The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t offer any sort of surprises. You know that you’ll likely never see any of these characters again since this is the conclusion of the Skywalker saga, but there’s also nothing set up for the future of the franchise.
Even when The Rise of Skywalker seems to offer something different it yanks that possibility away almost instantly only to gimp along on a more stagnant and predictable path. This trilogy seems pointless because the adventures of Rey, Finn, and Poe are too busy mimicking the original films to provide anything worthwhile of their own. They are forgettable, expendable, and unimportant in the grand scheme of things.
Does anyone still care about Rey’s lineage? When who she’s related to is revealed and as you consider the very last scene of the film, The Rise of Skywalker leaves you feeling empty and lethargic over a franchise that lost its way once Disney obtained the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas.
At least the prequel films feel like they’re all telling a cohesive story. Disney just threw a gargantuan pile of Jabba the Hutt fecal matter against the wall and didn’t even wait to see what stuck. They jumped to conclusions while that overindulgent excrement was still in the air and somehow made it more convoluted and worthless than it’s ever been.
J. J. Abrams’ foray into two Star Wars films offer little to no originality and they are lesser films because of it. The Last Jedi is the strongest film of the new trilogy because it at least made those who watched it feel something after viewing it. If you’re going to dangle this throbbing nostalgia fetish over your fanbase with little or no identity of its own, then how can you expect to leave an impact overall?
The Rise of Skywalker is fun to look at and captivates with its alluring special effects, but it is a finale that infuriates to the extent that you literally don’t care anymore. Fan favorite characters deserve better and new characters deserve development that is well thought out rather than simply reactionary. Why settle for a saturated and uneven reboot of Return of the Jedi with lame plot twists and paper thin character development?
- Impressive special effects.
- Incredible action sequences.
- C-3P0 and Babu Frik.
- Is a cardboard cutout version of Return of the Jedi.
- Horrid storyline/character reveals.
- Princess Leia.