This is not so much a review as a lament. If you enjoyed the movie, you may want to skip this. If you left going “How could they do that to us?” read on and we can share the pain together.
“The Rise Of Skywalker” was an automatic must-see movie for me. I saw the first Star Wars movie in 1978 and I haven’t missed one since (well, OK, I only watched “Solo” on DVD but that wasn’t really a Star Wars movie was it?). Anyway, how could I miss the conclusion to Abrams’ Star Wars Sequel Trilogy?
I thought the “The Force Awaken” and “The Last Jedi” did a great job of injecting new blood into Star Wars, giving us charcters who were less clearly either good or bad.
I liked that Rey was an orphan, surviving by scavenging. She was tough and believable as a warrior and was free of all the Star Wars history. I thought having Finn, a Storm Trooper who puts down his weapon, as a hero was inspired. Making the man with two names, Kylo Ren / Ben Solo into either the good guy turned bad or the bad guy who yearns to be good added something substantial to play with.
I thought the continuity with Leia, Luke, Solo and Chewbacca worked in the first two movies but my real attention was with the next generation.
Which is one of the ways in which “The Rise Of Skywalker” disappointed me. The tagline on the poster was “No one’s ever really gone”. I’m sure that’s meant to be reassuring to the mystically minded but if no one’s ever really gone then did they really sacrifice anything or do they just get to show up as glowing characters who no longer have to do more than coach from the sidelines? If no one’s ever really gone then when do the old guys get out of the way of the next generation and let them grow up? At times, this film felt like a form of sentimental ancestor worship.
Then there was the poor quality of both the story and the storytelling.
Are we really meant to take seriously an organisation that calls itself “The Final Order” like the last few pints before closing time or a late call to your local takeaway?
And why, if these guys can build a fleet where every single ship can crack open planets, do they leave them in orbit around a planet they can’t leave without help and pack them so close together that even an idiot like Poe Dameron can be a threat to them?
And the final confrontation with the Emporer (another character they just couldn’t let go of. Do we need the old guy in the hood when we have Kylo Ren stalking the universe?) made no sense.
The storytelling was awful. The whole thing was too busy. Too much attention on the (same old – nothing new to see here) CGI and not enough attention on the script. In the other films, we’ve followed parallel character-focused storylines and waited for them to converge. Here we kept bundling up all the charactes and following them around as if we’re not sure what to do with them execpt add in some more CGI.
I thought that Daisey Ridley as Rey and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren did a great job, often in spite of the script. I was impressed by the scene where Rey is on Ren’s spaceship while he is on the planet looking for her and the two of them end up fighting in both places at once. That was clever and powerful. There just wasn’t enough of that to lift the film.
So, my overall verdict on “The Rise Of Skywalker”? Can someone please make it again and cut out all the overly reverential bits with the old guys in it and spend more time giving the young folks something to do?