Max casts his reviewer’s eye over J.J Abrams’ conclusion to the Skywalker finale
*Beware: Spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker*
The Rise of Skywalker is the culmination of a legend 42 years in the making, so it would seem only acceptable that it would have to be epic. It was in a sense, epic, yet it didn’t really get me excited. A lot of the stuff that’s been prognosticated and rumored for the last few years basically came true and for a die-hard Star Wars fan; it is extremely predictable and tropey. The problem starts immediately, sadly with the classic opening crawl. It was just worded wrong and didn’t feel like an opening should. It didn’t carry a sense of trepidation and wonder like the classic ones did and since this is probably the last of them (they are reserved for the main Skywalker films; not the Anthology), it’s disappointing that it is subpar.
One of the few things I liked about this movie was the chemistry and improved characterization of the 3 “new” heroes. In Episodes 7 and 8, I felt Poe, Rey and Finn were boring and one dimensional. In this movie, however, their personalities improved dramatically and I started feeling a connection to them. The way they supported and cared for each other was very uplifting and I genuinely laughed at some of their comedic moments (especially them getting annoyed with C-3PO). The Knights of Ren finally appear in this movie and it’s a total let-down. They barely have any screen time, speaking lines or any explanation of their origins. They are literally like moving statues and cannon fodder and it almost makes no sense to include them. It’s the same with the Sith Troopers. We are teased with their awesome appearance months in advance, and they barely do anything! We don’t even know why they are called Sith Troopers. Do they have a connection to the Sith? Probably. Do they have a connection to the Force? Probably not.
Zori Bliss is also a big nothing, as was Jannah and to my fury, Maz Kanata was barely used. Besides having useless additions, one of my biggest grievances with this movie was that everything moved too fast and the action sequences just overlap each other. Part of the magic of Star Wars is seeing each location with brand new aliens to add to the Lexicon. Yes, of course, the movie had aliens, but we are barely given time to take them in. We are also given little time with Lando and his big return is rushed and limited. He was one of the reasons I was excited about the movie, and we are unfairly given crumbs. Consequences also suffer in The Rise of Skywalker; meaning that Disney is afraid of consequences for the heroes.
Rey accidentally kills Chewie. Woah! Deep. Oh wait, he’s fine. C-3PO’s memory needs to be erased. No way! Oh; R2-D2 can just back up the memory. Rey stabbed Kylo Ren. Holy crap. Oh, she healed him. The list just is endless and when you don’t have consequences for your character’s actions, things become unrealistically easy and you stop caring since you know there is always a safety net. Yet? For a non-important alien character; it’s ok to cut off his head and put it on a conference room desk.
Right. I did not like the way the Force was portrayed in this movie. Rey is like a Force user on steroids and she makes everything Force related look easy. The whole solid astral projection lightsaber duels and the taking of objects from others like a coin trick were totally ridiculous. It’s just lazy writers not wanting to write travel sequences. Hyperspace is also completely wrecked in this movie. Episode 8 introduced the asinine light speed ramming which was bad enough, but this movie introduced “hyper-skips” where the Millennium Falcon would make a jump in an ice cave on an ice world, then jump to a nebula and THEN TO THE ATMOSPHERE OF A CITY PLANET!!! They broke the rules! Yes, I know its fiction and rules bend to the plot; but you can’t take something that’s been done a certain way for 40 years and then utterly throw it under the bus.
They also ruined Emperor Palpatine, making him return; but barely alive, in an iron lung. It was just so weird. So he fell down a chasm, somehow got out of the pit and off the Death Star before it blew and then lived on a dialysis machine for 30 years? Come on. Everything this movie does is silly. I also have this strange aversion to the blaster bolt effect of the Sequels. They are too bright and fake looking. The Original Trilogy was much more low-tech with special effects but if plasma bolts did exist in real life; that’s how I think they’d look. Not flash bombs that light up the whole screen. That being said, I think the Prequel trilogy found a happy medium of visual blaster bolt display. The final space battle was unstructured. I could see they were going for something cerebral in crippling the MASSIVE fleet, but it seemed out of place to see snub fighters fly into a sea of leviathans. Talk about high odds. Sure, it’s not as dumb as Poe taking down a Star Destroyer in a single person ship (cough, cough Episode 8), but it ranks up there.
Despite nonsense, unbelievable space fights, over-done Force powers, broken rules, an overly fast pace, no consequences and a climactic let down of character appearances; the movie actually did have some strong points. As I said, the 3 main characters worked great together and they did well by Carrie Fisher’s legacy with the way her character died. Very symbolic and deep. Also, the blaster to blaster combat of the heroes against Stormtroopers on the Star Destroyer was very reminiscent of the original trilogy. I was nostalgic for Leia and Chewie shooting troopers in the hallways of Cloud City and was happy the character’s marksmanship was relatively skilled.
The only new character who carried any weight was Allegiant General Pryde. Cold and calculating, he showed a sense of competence rarely seen among the Imps/Firsties and his mysterious connection to Palpatine was intoxicatingly cool. Even though I complained about the Force “steroids”; it was pretty awesome to see the full potential power of Force lightning. Fans will not be disappointed with that and Reylo fans will also (to my disgust) get the moment they were waiting for…..All in all, this movie was NOT fit to end the Skywalker Saga and I was not pleased with the final product. I guess Disney lost 4 billion in 2012 and then gained back 6 this year. Not a good deal in my book. I can only hope that the Post-Skywalker era will continue to create things like The Mandalorian; that can keep the series from being sucked into a black hole. I give this movie as a whole, 40% out of 100, and that’s being generous.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is playing in cinemas worldwide NOW!
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Max Nocerino is a new addition to the Future of the Force roster. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter @MaxN2100 where he channels his passion frequently!