Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - 2019
Updated: Apr 26, 2020
I still remember seeing Revenge of the Sith in cinemas, and as the fanfare started and the words STAR WARS crashed onto the screen, I thought to myself, “this is the last time this will happen. What a special moment”.
That was five Star Wars’ ago.
Now it’s 2019 and we have a new Star Wars every year, not to mention TV shows and cartoons. Gonna admit, I felt nothing going into this one. I have been worn down by Star Wars after Star Wars, so when it came to officially and definitely the last Star Wars (because they won’t make anymore for sure - most definitely), I was like, “yeah…it’s gonna be a star war”. And it sure is a star war.
This is a Star Wars movie. It's got groundbreaking visual effects and beautiful cinematography and there really is nothing to say here. There is a great moment of CGI face that is really rather well done. However, it's mostly because face doesn’t speak and face is in the dark.
I really can’t stress how much more natural Star Wars dialogue is, when you’re not George Lucas. 4, 1, 2 and 3 don’t feel like they're written by a human person, but rather instead by someone who stayed over at a human person's house once. Of the new trilogy though, The Rise of Skywalker is very clearly the weakest script-wise; dialogue is so much style over substance, that it feels like each line is either a set up, or a punch line to someone else's set up.
This is a colour by numbers Star Wars movie.
If The Last Jedi was too obviously a single person's vision, then The Rise of Skywalker is too obviously written by a committee. There is absolutely nothing surprising or risky about it. If you have read more than one fan theory, then spoiler alert, you know what happens in the movie.
There was a moment before the movie started when I began theorising what the opening crawl could possibly say. Knowing the way the last J.J. Abrams Star Wars film started, I thought it would be funny if it just began with, “Palpatine is back, baby!”…and it basically does. Also, that pretty much amounts to the depth that they give Palpatine being back. I call this move the “spectre”, based on the most recent James Bond film. They connect this villain with the last few films by just saying, “we did it”. No evidence. No reason. No motivation. Just, “we did it”.
Also, I found it kind of weird that this is more of an Indiana Jones film, rather than a Star Wars film. The plot plays out as one fetch quest after another fetch quest, only to find out that the ultimate goal will melt your face off. I don’t necessarily find this bad, just bland. It is a satisfying, yet unremarkable conclusion and now I’m fine if there’s no more Star Wars.
Man, remember when The Last Jedi said something? Like it or not, it has so much to say about: how we perceive war, how we perceive heroes, how we perceive villains, how the age old stories of Star Wars have been told. Well, The Rise of Skywalker says, “forget that, we got Star War”. I wish I could say it is a nihilistic film because of it, but no thought went into what the film is saying other than, “what does Reddit want?”
Man, do you like fan service? Because we gonna shove that fan service so far down your throat, you’ll still be digesting Star Wars references the next morning. Did you not like The Last Jedi? Let’s throw in dialogue that references that fact, with a (literal) sly smile and a nod. Were you upset that Chewbacca didn’t get a medal back in A New Hope? Well, let’s spend a couple of minutes focusing on that! Remember Darth Plageus the Wise? WE DO! I’m honestly surprised midichlorians don’t come up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do and I just missed it.
Also, if you missed the jumps from the prequel trilogy, like if that was the one thing holding you back from liking this trilogy, then they have you covered. There are more than enough jumps and flips to make up for both the original trilogy AND the new trilogy. Not a single light sabre fight scene is nearly as cool or as interesting as the last two, but they do include more jumping, so that’s nice.
Here's the thing: J.J. Abrams doesn't finish stories. He sets them up. Seeing him finally finish something he started and deal with the bullsh*t he throws at other writers is oddly satisfying (DID NO ONE REMEMBER LOST?). The Force Awakens works because it re-introduces us to this world and then asks a bunch of questions without answering anything, yet still fits into a satisfying three act structure. The Last Jedi answers a bunch of those questions, but because fans didn't like it, in The Rise of Skywalker we have this whole weird answering the same questions but not answering the unanswered ones, and also all the answers come from theory videos on YouTube because God forbid we have an original idea in this movie. That was literally how Lost was written and now we have Star Wars-Lost.
I far preferred The Last Jedi for so many reasons, and although this film is perfectly fine, I have a strong feeling that critics are going to dislike this one, but fans are going to love it. I may be wrong, but my lukewarm response tells me that there's not enough to hate, but there's probably enough to like.
PS. J.J. Abrams' friend (who's in all of his movies), Greg Grunberg, dies and no one seems to really care. I cared GG. I cared.