Simple Review: I’ve got a bad feeling about this
Well, my fellow film fanatics, we have done it: we have reached the “end” of the space saga that blasted its way onto movie screens and into pop culture way back in 1977. Star Wars started my love of movies all those years ago and cursed me with a lifetime supply of useless knowledge about Jedi Knights, YT-1300 Corellian freighters and armor-clad Mandalorians ( yes I knew about them waaaaay before it was cool!). When Return of the Jedi ended in 1983 I thought my time in a galaxy far, far away was over, only to be visited again in novels and comic books, but then George Lucas decided we needed a prequel trilogy and once again we were transported back but it just wasn’t the same. After Disney bought the rights to Star Wars, we had the excitement of a new sequel trilogy that would bring back our beloved heroes and introduce us to their young replacements. What has followed has been an uneven journey back to the land of Wookies, droids, and stormtroopers all leading to the final battle of good and evil in The Rise of Skywalker. I know the question you all have for me, “Is it any good, Movie Psycho?” The only way to find out is to dive headlong into this trash compactor of a review with me and hope we get through this before the walls close in on us.
Before we jump into hyperspace with this review allow me to explain a few things to you my reliable reader so that I may remain open with you about my process. ( Does that sound especially pretentious, or what?) First of all, I am going to remain spoiler-free in this review as I know many of you have not seen the film. I am planning on writing a piece on the sequel trilogy as a whole and that will be spoiler-heavy so I can vent more with that blog. Second, I am going to try my hardest to review this movie on its own and not link it too much to the movies that came before, or at least only compare enough to the other two movies in the trilogy to help you understand what I did and didn’t like about The Rise of Skywalker. I think we are on the same page so I will get off my high space horse and get on with the review.
I am not going to lie to you, I did not care for The Rise of Skywalker and it pains me to say it. Much like The Last Jedi, there are things that work well but there is so much that falls flat and there were moments in the film where I actually thought of leaving the movie. Do you know how painful that is for me to write?!?! I love Star Wars, but what has been done to it in these movies is just insulting. Ok, I promised to stick with The Rise of Skywalker and I am a man of my word. This movie is a screenwriting nightmare with a plot that reminded me of Revenge of the Sith in that it is trying to make sure it answers all the questions from the previous films as well as “fixing” storylines so that things make sense in the movie. Admittedly, The Last Jedi did not give director J.J. Abrams many threads to follow up on in this movie but the choices made in this film are at the same time extremely safe and extremely lazy.
To be fair to The Rise of Skywalker, it is full of beautiful images and exciting special effects and Abrams has always been excellent at action and pacing in his movies. There are some exciting set-pieces that will keep you munching on your popcorn, with one of my favorites being a lightsaber fight that takes place between two characters in different locations. That lightsaber fight was unique and built off of ideas set in motion in The Last Jedi which was a nice touch to a scene that could have been yet another lightsaber fight. There is plenty of fan service with returning original trilogy characters and locations, as well as Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren using the patented Harrison Ford angry finger point. ( I know you know what I am talking about!) The new cast is given more adventurous and fun things to do together and we learn more about their lives before the events of The Force Awakens, which I wish they would have done more of in the first two movies so I actually knew and cared about these characters. Naturally, the score is fantastic and Chewbacca and the Millenium Falcon will never fail to bring a smile 12 parsecs long to my face!
Here is the tricky part of this review: how do I explain what I didn’t like without spoiling anything? Allow me to clear my thoughts and simply let go, allowing the Force to guide my typing fingers. As was made known in the trailers, the main villain in the movie is The Emperor and everything about how and why he is in the movie is cringe-worthy and lame. Why they bring this character back is beyond me and does nothing but ruin the ending of Return of the Jedi. The worst part of his character is when he explains things that were unanswered or weren’t the answers we were expecting in The Last Jedi. I get that the writers didn’t like what The Last Jedi did with these big mysteries, but instead of doing something creative they simply wrote a few lines of dialogue to fit what happened into their narrative. That is just lazy writing. Speaking of lazy writing, this movie has some god awful dialogue, even for a Star Wars movie. Not ” I don’t like sand” bad, but bad none the less.
As far as the heroes of the sequel trilogy, there just isn’t much there to get you invested in what they are going through. I never felt any sense of tension or dread that they may actually fail at anything in this movie. I take that back, Adam Driver does a great job with Kylo Ren and his character arc is fitting and surprisingly emotional. He shares a scene with an original trilogy character that was touching and bittersweet. Rey is basically the same person, just incredibly powerful to the point that nothing is a threat to her and that is a shame as Daisey Ridley is damn good in the role but there is no depth to this character. I felt nothing for her struggle because she never does anything to make you feel she might turn to the dark side, or that she might fail standing up to the Emperor. Finn and Poe are given more to do and, as I stated earlier, we learn a little more about them but it is simply too little too late for me to connect to them in the story. There are other new characters that are shoehorned into the movie just to get our heroes to their next goal, while poor Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico is more or less a background character in this one. Speaking of background characters, why the hell is R2-frickin-D2 treated like an extra in the movie? HE IS R2-D2 DAMMIT!!!!
The plot of The Rise of Skywalker is pretty simple but the filmmakers take us around Uranus just to get to the moon. ( that’s a solar system joke right there!) There are so many side missions that end up being pointless and I tend to think they were only in the movie because they needed an excuse to get another thing they could make a toy out of in the film. We have characters teleporting to the right spot to find things or other characters that they couldn’t have possibly gotten to. Another character turns out to be a mole in the First Order and when you find out who it is you will laugh out loud at the fact that it makes no sense nor does that plot thread go anywhere other than to give our heroes the information they need. I cannot tell you the number of times I was shaking my head at how bad this screenplay is and I wondered if anyone bothered writing a second draft or they just went with the first thing that popped into their heads!
My friends, I need to end this review as my blood pressure is beginning to rise to the level of Jabba the Hutt’s! To be as fair as I can to The Rise of Skywalker, this is an action-packed and humourous movie that does have a few touching and emotional moments simply because of characters we have loved for over 40 years. I, however, did not enjoy it enough to endorse seeing it, but you are going to anyway! The screenwriting is just to bad to ignore or gloss over and the fact that the filmmakers played it so safe was frustrating. It didn’t need to go to the lengths of The Last Jedi and spit on everything that came before it, but The Rise of Skywalker needed to take some chances just to give it some sense of tension and excitement. Its worst crime is that it makes me not want to attend anymore Star Wars movies Disney puts out. ( But I am all in on The Mandalorian)
I hope you enjoyed this rambling review and it didn’t spoil anything in the movie if you choose to see it. I hope you come back to read my blog on the sequel trilogy as soon as I get it out to the interwebs!
As always, thanks for your time!
The Movie Psycho