As usual, with my Star Wars reviews, I like to posit a spoiler free review and then go on to nitpick the shit out of it. So watch for the break if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
Firstly, let’s go ahead and all accept the fact that Star Wars is for children and the incredible success of the original trilogy was clearly a fluke judging by the behind the scenes shenanigans. It’s a miracle it is watchable at all and we forgive so many dumb things because of nostalgia. That said, how have we not figured this out by now? Why, in 2019, can we not expect a coherent Star Wars film that is both made well and thought provoking?
Because The Rise of Skywalker is a mess. It’s extremely fast, hitting you with exposition like you’re a fraternity initiative’s butt and J.J. Abrams is the paddle. There’s honest to god lines like, “This is an important mission,” or “Rey is going on her first mission!” “If this mission fails, we are all doomed.” Mission, mission, mission. It is quite literally a bad young adult novel brought to screen. A series of fetch quests, which hinge on some unknown person making a knife and inscribing the directions to the crashed death star from Episode 6, and Palpatine’s throne room.
Which brings us to The Last Jedi. Which I hated. And I also hate that hating The Last Jedi means you’re a whiny fan boy who doesn’t like female characters. I honestly loved a lot of what Rian Johnson did. Rey being a nobody – great. Luke being a recluse – Yoda did it, why can’t he? Luke disappearing – sure. What I don’t like is all the dumbass stuff in between. FUEL. Never a concern before is now a concern in EVERY MOVIE. Bait and switch on Leia dying? Maz Kanata’s weird union busting scene? Leia and Holdo shrugging their shoulders and essentially saying boys will be boys with Poe COMMITS MUTINY? Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.
Rise learned nothing. And they tried to retcon all the wrong things. They did not need to retcon anything. The WHOLE point of the movie is that anyone can be a Jedi. Even some nobody. That’s what the entire new trilogy has been about. And they pull out that rug extremely fast. Because Rey is somebody, and they don’t explain how or why or why it matters. Because it doesn’t. She could have remained nobody and it would have still worked and worked much better.
It all comes down to this: they started this trilogy without a road map. They did not write an outline for each film and for each character. They handed a single movie to a single director and said have fun but don’t stray too far or we will fire you (Trevorrow, Miller, Lord). As someone said on Twitter: the prequels are good ideas made badly, the new trilogy is bad ideas made well. It’s gorgeous. But it’s a mess, with very little originality.
One bright spot. Kylo Ren. From beginning to end – is perfect. I love his arc, I love his acting, and I love the storytelling behind his character. Incredible. There’s a spot before the final battle where The Rise of Skywalker almost earns forgiveness. Where Rey and Kylo battle it out, using awesome force powers. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s gorgeous, it’s meaningful, and it made all that forced exposition earlier worth it. The movie immediately pivots back to dumb exposition, but for a brief, brief moment Rise becomes a good movie. They were close, so close, but it slipped through their fingers.
1.5 out of 4 stars.
SPOILERS BELOW!!!! BEWARE!!!
Why, why, why, why, does there always have to be a planet destroying laser? I laughed out loud when that appeared. And Poe is like, “Every one of those star destroyers has a planet killing laser.” Isn’t it scary enough that there are one thousand star destroyers in Palpatine’s control? How the hell is he staffing them?
And what the fuck is up with Palpatine? Maybe if you teased him AT ALL in any of the previous movies, this would be okay. Because the skywalker saga is totally related to the Palpatine saga, I get that. It makes sense. But he shows up out of nowhere, on some Sith homeworld that sounds like everyone is saying “Icicle” with a thousand Sith witches chanting bullshit in a dark room. Goes back to my point that no one wrote out a story structure ahead of time.
And in the end they just copied the original trilogy because they knew that worked. Only it doesn’t. Let’s count the similarities to Return of the Jedi, shall we? Lando in a dumb disguise – check. On a desert planet – check. Lando pilots the falcon at the end – check. Palpatine begs someone to give in and kill him – check. A woman finds out who her family is – check. Ewoks – check. Planet destroying laser gun – check. And every single one of these new movies did this. Copied their exact predecessor because they were so scared to break the mold.
All right, what the fuck is Maz Kanata? Why is she still here? We don’t care about her at all. And her CGI looked way different – rushed even.
DOMINIC MONAGHAN. WHY.
How many times is Finn going to yell “Rey!” Fifty?
Are we supposed to know who the new first order commander is?
Lando is going to fuck that woman isn’t he? Or are they implying she’s his daughter? Either way, it felt gross.
“Leia knew you were a Palpatine. So did I.” Oh shut the fuck up Luke. No she did not and no you didn’t. Fuck this scene.
Seriously, they did do the best they could with Carrie Fisher. Clearly shoe horned in some lines but decently commendable.
What is with Porkins 2.0?
And (maybe) finally, the final battle. Do you remember the coherency of the fight in Return of the Jedi? It was beautiful, capital ships duking it out, fighters weaving in and out. The joy at seeing the Super Star Destroyer get taken down by accident. How about the opening shot of Revenge of the Sith? Epic when they rolled over that capital ship and reveal that the sky is awash with lasers. And Rogue One! Oh Rogue One, you beautiful thing you. Probably the best representation of space dogfights and filmmaking put on camera. SO WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED. WHAT IS THIS BULLSHIT. How confusing was that? There were so many ships on screen and none of them mattered except for one star destroyer. Just….horrible. It makes me sad just thinking about it. So I’ll think about how much I loved Kylo Ren’s arc. And his little kiss at the end. If he hadn’t died that would have been awkward for Finn and Poe.