REVIEW: “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”; Overcorrecting Episode 8 Makes for a Disappointing Conclusion to the Skywalker Saga
“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.” – Kylo Ren, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
And for me, that is my biggest problem with “The Rise Of Skywalker”… Whoever was in charge of the decisions made for this movie had a complete lack of respect for George Lucas, the fans of the Original and Prequel trilogies, and even some of the major characters of the previous Star Wars trilogies. They only catered to a third of the fan base of the Star Wars saga, and even that fan base is divided. The backlash is going to be massive among many Star Wars fans, and Disney only has itself to blame by not anticipating the impact that some choices made in this movie will have on Star Wars fans.
Is there any good in this movie? Definitely. Both Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver have performed excellently throughout this trilogy. Neither of them have ever been a problem in the series. Rey has always been the reluctant hero that has grown throughout the series. Kylo Ren has always been the conflicted villain that has struggled with who he was meant to be. In a way, both are two sides of a coin. They are the only ones that truly understand each other. Under different circumstances, the two of them would be a perfect couple, his Ying to her Yang, or maybe vice versa. Unfortunately, it is their wills and their convictions that keep them apart. This trilogy has always been about Rey and Kylo Ren, and mostly everything else was just filler. It’s good to see their story conclude.
With the passing of Carrie Fisher before this trilogy was complete, Abrams had the task of respectfully honoring the late actress and her character’s storyline. What Abrams did was very well done and it provides closure to General Leia Organa’s character. This movie would have been vastly different if Fisher was still alive at the time of filming. Sadly, we will never know how much of an impact her character would have on the overall film.
The visual effects are absolutely stunning at times. There are some truly memorable and epic moments that really stand out. There is also a lot of callbacks made to several characters in the Star Wars saga that will make fans smile just to see them, or in some cases, hear them.
John Williams rarely disappoints with his score and this time, it is probably his best in this trilogy. I’m glad that he was able to complete the music for the final chapter in the saga and it is quite an accomplishment that he was able to score all nine movies in the saga and come up with some classic themes for each trilogy.
Finally, it was nice to see C-3PO shine again. This is probably one of C-3PO’s and Anthony Daniels’ best performances in the Star Wars saga. His story was very heartfelt, and his comical moments worked every time.
Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good, and you have to begin with the story. It’s convoluted, feels rushed, and sometimes it is just plain boring. And the conclusion, although satisfying for some, is just going to create so much hate and disdain in the Star Wars community. I am sure that they were well aware of this, but it seems like they decided to move forward with their narrative to push their own agenda.
Another failure with this trilogy is other than Rey and Kylo Ren, no other characters have emerged as standouts. In the original trilogy, practically everyone was a standout character. Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Lando. Even R2-D2 and C-3P0 were all standout characters.
Finn was an interesting character in “The Force Awakens”, a stormtrooper that defects to the Resistance. After that, he had nothing to do except endlessly pine for Rey, who really doesn’t want to give him the time of day. It’s like watching a schoolboy going after a girl who just sees him as a friend. It’s embarrassing to watch in real life and it isn’t much better in this movie. And now that this trilogy is over, I’m glad that I don’t ever have to hear Finn scream “Rey!” on that the top of his lungs ever again! Yeah… that’s never going to get her to like you, dude.
Poe was also great in “The Force Awakens”, but after that movie, he was perceived as a hot-headed dope. I don’t know if it’s Oscar Issac or Poe, but neither of them have the best comic timing. Just fly and kill people, that’s all we want to see. He’s a little better in this movie, but I still felt his character could have been much better overall.
It was good to see Billy Dee Williams back, but it would have been even nicer to have seen him much earlier in the series, maybe working with Han and Chewie, in “The Force Awakens”. It would have even worked better in “The Last Jedi” if Lando could have had some scenes with Leia. Come on! Lando had a significant role in defeating The Empire! It just seems like a case of too little, too late.
The Emperor is just bad in this movie. He really feels like a last-minute substitute for Snoke, after Ryan Johnson killed him off in “The Last Jedi”. It’s never revealed how he survived after being killed by Darth Vader at the end of “Return of The Jedi”. It really feels like they assumed that everyone has seen the trailers for “The Rise of Skywalker” revealing The Emperor, so we don’t have to explain how he is here. This isn’t much of a spoiler, but they actually reveal him in the opening crawl! That is just lazy storytelling. Abrams has been saying since last year, that from the very beginning of this trilogy, it was always their intention to bring The Emperor back. If that was the case, he would have been seen in “The Last Jedi” in the final scene as a cliffhanger. Not in the opening crawl of the last film!
Disney and Management are mainly to blame for the film’s pitfalls, with abrupt, unexplained changes to the storyline based on fan feedback and corporate decisions, rather than creative choices by filmmakers.
Lucasfilm never had a plan for the three movies. Kathleen Kennedy was confident that each director would come up with their own fascinating story for each movie and that it would eventually lead to a final conclusion. And when you go along with that line of thinking, “The Rise Of Skywalker” happens.
When “The Force Awakens” came out, I was excited over the potential of future movies expanding the Star Wars saga. Abrams and Kennedy had the opportunity of uniting a divided fan base by bringing them together with a satisfying conclusion to the Star Wars saga for all fans. But after “The Force Awakens”, they chose to ignore that fan base and felt that pushing their agenda was more important to them than telling a good story and making everyone happy. Abrams was asked recently about the potential backlash from fans, and his response was,“You can’t please everyone”. Well, you can’t if you don’t try. “The Mandalorian” is a perfect example that proves that you can get a divided Star Wars fan base to universally like something Star Wars again. Help us, John Favreau, you’re our only hope!
This movie is really for a new generation of Star Wars fans, and I am sure they will enjoy it. I just don’t like that they’ve lessened the impact of some classic characters in order to make the new characters shine. Without a doubt, there are some spectacular moments in this movie, but it could have been a lot greater without dividing the fan base even further.