Review – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Spoilers)
This is the final chapter to my nine-part episode review of Star Wars; you can go back to the Phantom Menace if you want to go back to the start, or just stay right here.
Disney Star Wars has proven one thing. No matter how much money you throw at it, if you don’t have a plan for a trilogy; you only make garbage.
The actors and the production crew no doubt worked hard to make the film, but it’s clear that a bad story and interference from the Corporate Overlords cut and chopped this film until it no longer resembles a Star Wars film. There are some great performances in this film, but reshoots and cuts have left no context and no emotional engagement.
C-3PO and Chewy were the two characters I liked most in this story, 3PO actually made some funny jokes and seeing emotion from Chewy in a couple of key scenes twanged on my heartstrings. But the only reason that happens is because of the connection formed from the OT and Prequels, not because of this film, or the Disney trilogy. If anything, it makes me sad to see a glimmer of properly using original characters, because they showed that they can do it, at the same time choosing to deface and disrespect other OT characters.
The Rise of Skywalker does not feel like the end of the “Skywalker Saga,” to be fair, none of the Disney movies feel like they are part of the “Skywalker Saga,” since the main character isn’t a Skywalker. And no, whatever Rey says you don’t become a Skywalker just because you say so.
I went into this film with low expectations, and somehow the movie still disappointed me. After spending eight weeks re-watching and analysing the previous films, I couldn’t see a path for the story to resolve satisfactorily, and I didn’t have faith that JJ Abrams could see a path either. But I wanted more than anything to be surprised; for the movie to be the epic heroes’ journey that is a baked-in part of Star Wars. What we got instead was a mess that mutilates the previous movies.
With the lore breaking of The Last Jedi, it was always going to be hard to finish this movie. But the movie retcons some things blatantly, then doubles down on others. The Last Jedi damaged the OT characters after Return of the Jedi, but this movie damages the universe, destroying Luke’s story in the OT and Anakin’s story in the prequels. Not only that, but it feels like a 350-million-dollar whine at the previous movie. Over and over again, the crass retcons of The Last Jedi jarred me out of the film. I get it JJ, Rian broke your toy; get over it. And if you couldn’t get over it then why did you take the job?
Outside of the retcons, the movie adds a tonne of new Force powers and slathers that with unneeded or unfinished storylines. I literally sat through the credits to see if there was going to be an end-credit scene to finish the plot thread with Finn. Nope. Finn’s story is not resolved at all.
The pace of the film is so quick that it’s easy to miss things as the next fast-paced action scene tries to paper over the bad plot. The scenes are cut to just the bare-bone facts and it makes it feel like the first half of the movie is a montage.
When I left the cinema, I wandered around in a daze and tried to answer all the questions I had. When I saw Endgame, which concluded the recent phase of Marvel movies, I had nitpick questions about why a character did this or that. I don’t remember asking what the hell happened. I didn’t feel dejected when I watched Endgame. I wasn’t disappointed. I have spent more than a week going over this movie trying to order my thoughts on it. I think there is a part of my brain that is still trying to find a way to make this all make sense, trying to see some part that I missed. There isn’t. This movie is a dumpster fire. And the worst part is that the brand of Star Wars is so powerful that this movie won’t get the reaction it deserves. This movie deserves to lose money at the box office, but it won’t. This movie deserves to be despised by the fans, but if we learned anything from The Last Jedi, there will be fans who bend their headcanon until it fits into a Star Wars shaped hole.
The one thing that I decided when I left the cinema is that Star Wars ends with Return of the Jedi. Disney proved that just because they had enough money to buy the IP doesn’t mean they could add to it. It’s a shame. When it was announced that Disney was buying Lucasfilm I was excited; I hoped that they could spend the money to do Star Wars justice. Instead, they sold tickets to a performance of them defiling its corpse.
There are three major plot problems that this film either creates or doubles down on. Palpatine is back, which seriously damages Anakin’s sacrifice. Force Ghosts can interact with matter and still use the Force, which begs the question: why should an untrained living Jedi ever take on the Sith when there are powerful Jedi Master Force Ghosts. And they introduce Force healing. If Force healing exists in this universe, then why would Anakin be so fearful of Padme’s death and ultimately lead to his fall to the dark side? The film compounds these huge franchise shaking problems with inconsistent time movement, teleportation, and instant travel.
Beyond that there is a pile of little plot conveniences and contrivances that hurt the overall film. Not just bringing Palpatine back from the dead, but they fake-kill Chewy, C-3PO, Babu Frik, Zorii Bliss, All the main characters, Kylo 3 times, and Rey in this film. They resurrect characters at least 12 times in this film, the movie has no suspense; because after a while you are surprised when a character stays dead.
I wrote a deep dive into all the plot holes and story problems, but it made this post 9000 words long, so instead, I thought I would split this into two posts. If you don’t want any more than my thoughts on the film feel free to go read some of my fiction, but if you want to read a novella about how this movie is terrible then click here for the deep dive.