Autistic movie enthusist, (the bio needs to be 60 characters long, so this is just filling up space)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review
Published by Matthew Hunter
It’s insane to think that it’s been 42 years since the original Star Wars came out, and that 42 years later, it’s still just as loved as it was back then. The franchise has gone through many highs & lows from the beloved Original Trilogy, the widely-hated Prequel Trilogy (Controversial Opinion: I actually really liked Revenge of the Sith), and now the Sequel Trilogy, which has gone in all sorts of directions both positively and negatively.
Force Awakens (2015) Directed by J. J. Abrams was a gigantic smash hit both financially and critically, though some had a problem with it seeming very derivative of A New Hope. Then Last Jedi (2017) came out, which replaced Abrams with Rian Johnson, who went for a more subversive and shocking approach to the franchise, while critics liked it, and the film was a success as expected, audiences went everywhere with this one, with some enjoying its bold direction, and others deeming it as an insult to the whole franchise. Now we have The Rise of Skywalker, which brings back Abrams to the directing chair, can he restore balance to the force with this installment, or shall it only divide the fanbase even further.
As mentioned before, Last Jedi wasn’t exactly the big crowd-pleaser that everyone had anticipated, and in order to make up for that, Abrams decided to go and create, the most rushed finale possible. Rise of Skywalker is an extremely unsatisfying conclusion for what started off as a really promising trilogy, and the biggest issue about it is the script. It feels when watching this movie like the writers were banging their heads on the wall, trying to come up with how to conclude the story, after all Abrams ain’t really known all that well for satisfying conclusions (*coughs Lost).
Then again maybe it would’ve helped if Abrams had more involvement with Last Jedi, now that Snoke’s out of the picture, where could the writers go to add more of a threat to this trilogy-capper? Oh, I know, Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious (it’s not a spoiler, it was in the trailers), y’know, the same person who was taken care of in Return of the Jedi, that other trilogy-capper that everyone loved; let’s just use him again, because there’s no other possible area to explore, after we’ve just wasted our previous villain. Ignoring how Palpatine’s return makes no sense, the decision for him to return ends up ruining any of the uniqueness this trilogy had from the previous two, instead of defeating the First Order, the focus shifts to the main characters defeating the Sith again.
Maybe some of this would’ve been easier to accept if there was more emotional weight to the film, but unfortunately, Rise of Skywalker is more interested in big elaborate action scenes, then it is in actually trying to develop any of the characters. The first half-hour in particular moves a mile a minute, going from one big sequence to another without pausing for much downtime, in fact the whole movie has this kind of pace.
At the expense are side-characters, who have gone from being fun and interesting members with unique backstories and personalities, to falling into the background when something isn’t exploding. Many people complained with Last Jedi that the sub-plots involving Finn, Poe & others got in the way of the bits with Luke & Leia, but at least there was an attempt to do something with them, here they are completely indistinguishable, and could easily be written out with anyone else in the same role. At the very least, Leia (Carrie Fisher*) is handled with taste, and 3-PO is in more of this one than the previous two, and delivers his usual humor to the mix.
With all that said, anytime Rey or Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are on screen, the movie actually comes alive. While the writers didn’t seem to care about anyone else, they knew who the most important players are; much like how they showed that Luke & Vader aren’t so different, they show in this that Rey and Kylo aren’t too different either, both of them have a very important position in their group, but while at the same time they’re trying to defeat one another, they realize that they need one another to learn more about themselves.
These moments will either leave you shocked, or on the edge of your seat, and in a better film, could easily count as some of the best moments in the franchise, it helps that the acting from the two of them is killer. In fact, all of the acting from everyone is really good, it’s just a shame that the script is so terrible, either they committed to the parts and didn’t ask for any changes, or they hoped that just their performances alone would punch-up what is such an obvious rush-job.
It has been stated that a hero is only as good as their villain, while that might be true here, it doesn’t make the story and writing any better, especially when the stated villain is actually a secondary villain, to a previously defeated foe. Seeing as how Endgame earlier this year was able to give a satisfying conclusion to 20+ movies, Rise of Skywalker in comparison has no excuse, I would say not to see it, but let’s face it you already have.
© 2021 Matthew Hunter