Oh how the mighty have fallen. What was once a beloved franchise turned into a meme and from there, turned into something alien, how ironic. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as many of you will now know, is yet again a divisive installment to another Disney epic. No doubt, by now, you have been lambasted with opinions ranging from the film being perfect; to the tale featuring misogyny and pitiful direction.
I will try to keep this review fairly brief. No doubt every argument within the vocabulary of our species has been excised upon this film. I thought I may as well hurl my bit of spit into the cesspool that is film criticism.
Destiny Awaits or Something
The Rise of Skywalker takes place a little while after the travesty of The Last Jedi. We see the rebels have sought shelter and seem to have a bit of an idea of what they’re going to do.
The plot takes the viewer on a journey of finding a McGuffin to another McGuffin to the eventual end. The entire experience plays out as a random side quest in a video game. We meet up with our regular band of ‘heroes’ and notice that very little personality has been added to them. Each is still the 2-D cut out of generic hero from any given franchise.
So the movie progresses at a fast pace and not a lot happens until Rey is shown that Luke had originally been tracking down a gizmo to find some super-secret ancient Sith world in which the dark side resides, and it must be destroyed. On this little detour to finding out how to get to said planet, Rey discovers she can Force heal; because of course she can. No issue with this lore-breaking point, at all.
From here, the audience is shown that the heroes are by far some of the luckiest individuals in the galaxy. Any potential hiccup in their plans seems to be easily resolved by a stray character happening to have something they need or their escape route is coincidentally barren; allowing their progression.
At the end the inevitable happens; bad guys are inept, good guys are invincible, forced romance and ideals of courage are shown. Nothing is fleshed out, nothing explained; a simple case of ignoring how annihilated they were at the end of The Last Jedi because plot armour. The film ends as if it was some epic conclusion to the most important saga ever; roll credits.
Skywalker and Friends
Throughout The Rise of Skywalker, many will notice a certain feeling of unease and confusion. A lot of this will be due to seeing a light show appear on screen, and then a brief moment where you’ll start to think and process the event that just happened; then another fight takes place.
The film’s complete determination to not let anybody think about what’s going on hinders the entire story. This becomes incredibly predominant when observing the characters and what/ where their growth is meant to be.
Naturally, Kylo Ren and Rey (arguably) are where most of the character ‘development’ is focused. This throws all secondary and tertiary characters to the wayside. An approach like this was certainly a bold strategy, but not one which will make this a memorable entry into the franchise. You might even be surprised to know that the Knights of Ren, the ones in loads of marketing material, do fuck all. They were completely irrelevant to anything in this franchise besides being able to be sold as toys.
The Rise of Skywalker goes so far as to retcon previous character developments so hard that some characters aren’t given a modicum of screen time despite having large roles prior. This was clearly Disney and Abrams trying to undo all the damage which Rian Johnson had afflicted; too little too late.
No characters or relationship suffer the grueling disparity of growth more than Finn and Poe. The two charismatic characters who played incredibly well off one another, clearly could have been a gay couple? Nope, in this installment they are still the exact same people they were in the first film, except this time round they’re made to be a lot straighter.
Jar Jar Abrams and Disney
At this moment in time it should be apparent that there seems to be a disconnect between those who hire Abrams and those who watch movies. Don’t get me wrong, Abrams is good at making films; that does not mean he is at all competent at writing them.
Looking back at it, this has been a truism for well over a decade, all the way back to Lost. If you want to kick off a show or you want your film to have a certain polish, Abrams could be your guy. The issue only comes into play when he’s giving free reign to write. As with all his written media, The Rise of Skywalker looks nice, though with Disney’s budget that’s not hard, but that’s it.
The painful thing with this particular trilogy, even when taking Star Wars out of the equation, is that he managed to make his own story contradict itself. Remember, Abrams was the one who kicked off the trilogy, setup certain expected payoffs and managed to simply forget them.
There was a great interview he gave where was quoted as saying “fuck it” when approaching the film. And it truly shows. Now, how much of this is Abrams’ fault or Disney’s, I don’t know. I know Disney was limiting creative control, especially after The Last Jedi, but exactly how restrictive they were being this time around remains to be seen.
The Fall of Star Wars
The screen turns black and you finally have time to reflect on the past 6 years of Star Wars. What are we left with? You’re favourite characters from the original trilogy are now all dead or an absolute husk of their original selves; please see Lando and Chewbacca for this.
The lore and mechanics of the Star Wars universe are now entangled into so many contradictions. Any meaning one took from the original or even the prequel trilogies is now lost.
It seems that anything is up for grabs; the Force can now do anything. All the sacrifices made along the way have basically been nullified which also means that any story which is now set before any of these films doesn’t matter as we know how it concludes and oh dear lord nothing will make this end justifiable. Rey is still a Mary Sue who acts with anger, completely juxtaposing any Jedi teachings we’ve been shown, what’s the point?
Unfortunately there is far too much to unpack in a simple review like this, there are a lot of issues but there’s no point putting more effort into a review than Disney did with this film. For now, my very bias and clouded opinion basically regards this trilogy in the same light as Game of Thrones season 8. What is the point in going back and watching all that if the end is just going to spoil everything before and after? Anything which is now created has to deal with the new rules Disney have introduced into the universe.
To quote Mr. Abrams, “fuck it”, RIP to a beloved story.