This will be the first part of a three-part review of the death of one of the most beloved franchises in cinematic history, Star Wars. This is my review and then Sean Clark and Johnny Crane will also provide their perspectives on the film because, my God, does Rise of Skywalker just ruin any sort of love that I had for the franchise for the 15 some odd years that I have been familiar with the product.
Rise of Skywalker is essentially a scavenger hunt. That’s the plot. The Resistance receives a message from Emperor Palpatine(Yes, the Palpatine that was thrown to his death by Darth Vader) is somehow alive for the sake of putting people in the seats for the grand finale after how hated the awful Last Jedi was. Instead of Palpatine telling only his allies that he has returned, he tells the entire world of Star Wars that he is back, which makes absolutely no sense to do because you are going to get a hoard of resistance troops that will try to find and kill him.
Kylo Ren, A.K.A. the only good character with an arc in this trilogy, is the only reason you should pay money to watch this film. Adam Driver’s acting is near-immaculate and the one redeemable quality of this entire trilogy. His internal conflict is the most compelling aspect of the trilogy and it is a shame that none of the three films promoted Ren as the protagonist because that’s how this film plays out. It feels as though we are watching Ren’s story and not any of our three acts. However, I’d much rather follow Ren than any of our bland and useless heroes.
Outside of Kylo Ren’s arc, Rise of Skywalker is essentially a 142-minute torture chamber of re-hashed scenes from Return of the Jedi, weak, corny dialogue and J.J. Abrams, essentially, trying to undo everything that Rian Johnson did in The Last Jedi. It is hard to respect this trilogy on its own because it is so focused on people and events from 40 years ago that it forgets to stand on its own two feet. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and the rest of the Disney corporate heads involved with this sequel trilogy had no road map when they were producing it. The Force Awakens only brought back the feelings that the original trilogy did because the film was the story of Han’s death with our characters watching. Johnson took Emperor Snoke and said “I hate him. Let’s kill him in The Last Jedi”. Thus, leaving Abrams as the scapegoat to take the fall for the scrambled mess that is Rise of Skywalker.
It’s hard to find obvious spoilers in this film because there really are none in this film outside of Rey. Yes, it takes until halfway through the FINAL FILM to learn something about our heroine. However, the problem with Rey is that she is too powerful of a Jedi and can just OP her way through this film. She spent about five minutes with Luke Skywalker trying to learn the ways of the force and now, all of a sudden, she’s the most powerful Jedi…..ever. Every scene is Rey pulling off some magnificent feat that only the top brass of Jedi could do and she does it. How? Well, this movie never explains.
Remember Finn and Poe? Yeah, they are just friends of Rey now. They are nothing in this film.
C-3PO? BB-8? R2-D2? They are in the background somewhere.
Lando Calrissian? Gets about 90 seconds of screen time.
Chewbacca? I forgot he was even in this film.
The other thing I can appreciate in this film is how tasteful and respectful they were to Carrie Fisher and General Leia. I don’t envy anyone who had to go through archived footage and have that footage fit directly into this film. It must have been incredibly difficult and they did the best they could to have her in this film post-mortem.
This movie was so focused on not only being a scavenger hunt for Palpatine but also to fulfill the needs of fans that write fan fiction about a romantic connection between Kylo Ren and Rey. We all dreaded it would happened and it did. Oh yeah, I should have put a spoiler alert but honestly, who cares anymore? Disney has killed any sort of passion I had for this franchise. We had hope with The Force Awakens and Rogue One. Then, The Last Jedi comes along and nukes any of the spirit and adventure that Star Wars is supposed to have.
The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker are the equivalent to if Kevin Feige straight up told the Russo Brothers, “Let’s make Infinity War and Endgame f***ing terrible”.
In all seriousness, Rise of Skywalker is one of the most dissatisfying experiences in a movie theatre I have had. It is ridiculous how off-the-mark the calculations were with the last two films. The worst part about this film is that you will really feel nothing unless you really seek it out. There’s no emotion or heart in this film. It is spectacle for the sake of being a spectacle and not a closing to the end of a saga. Kylo Ren is a great character, everybody acts well and the visuals are pretty to look at but it’s 2019. Your films can’t just rely on visuals and great acting if there is nothing to be said and no story to be told.
This trilogy makes me appreciate the prequels more because George Lucas had a vision. As bad as Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones are, there is still lore that you enjoy following and there is a set path on the story that is being told and we get a fantastic conclusion with Revenge of the Sith.
At the end of the day, Rise of Skywalker is a complete disaster and this trilogy will go down as one of the biggest miscalculations in cinematic history.