The Rise of Skywalker feels like a film made by committee and because of that it has no soul of its own.
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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final film in the supposed final trilogy of the much adored Star Wars franchise. Directed by J.J. Abrams and starring Daisey Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaacs and John Boyega Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has an insurmountable challenge ahead of it, appeasing fans while ending this epic space opera in a satisfying and earnest way.
It’s been a nondescript amount of time since The Last Jedi and Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Driver) discovers something incredible in a far off place in the galaxy. With this incredible power behind him and a new drive to destroy the only one in his way, Rey (Ridley) he begins his hunt.
Meanwhile Rey and her band of merry men are desperately trying to fend off the newly dubbed Final Order. When they discover that Kylo has a new force behind him that could mean the end of freedom for the galaxy they are also on a race against the clock to find the source of his power so they can somehow destroy it.
I’ll be honest I was worried walking into The Rise of Skywalker. I adored The Last Jedi but it divided the fanbase and the franchise has been unsteady since then. Many wondered could returning Force Awakens helmer steady the ship into hyperspace and I am here to say no, no he could not.
The journey of the Force
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker tries so hard to appease all of its detractors, all of the naysayers that it may be the most unapologetically mundane film in the Star Wars franchise. For example the film rockets through it’s opening first act reintroducing an old adversary with a combination text scroll and montage that you feel like the characters are going through the motions as revelations upon revelations are piled upon them. It detracts from the emotional beats the film is trying to hit and save for one brief sliver of a moment I felt nothing for the characters or their struggles.
Not only that the film feels like there are no stakes. When the nefarious forces of the baddies feel so outlandishly over powered, to a cartoonish extreme, as they do in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker you feel a disconnect to the characters. This was the issue with The Force Awakens, where do you go after a Death Star? A Starkiller of course, a more powerful and potent weapon but then that gets destroyed where next? Well how about a fleet of Sith Star Destroyers with Starkiller weaponry onboard? Well I don’t care now this is ridiculous and any sense of legitimacy has been lost for Michael Bay-esque spectacle.
This is what I would say is almost a positive for The Rise of Skywalker. It is a stunning film on the drawing board, the worlds are gorgeous and filled with unique designs and colours but the people that fill these worlds have none of the character that we’ve seen from previous Star Wars. The scenes happening in these gorgeous environments are boring and unimpressive.
The Rise of Skywalker feels like a film made by committee and because of that it has no soul of its own. It has nothing that will stand out like any of the other Star Wars films, dare I say it it may potentially be worse than some of the prequel trilogy. It doesn’t have the monstrous figure in the shadows that was Darth Maul in Phantom Menace, it doesn’t have the vicious dance that was the duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, it doesn’t even have the bonkers but fascinating Yoda fight in Attack of the Clones but most importantly it doesn’t have the same love and care put into it that the original trilogy had.
J.J. Abrams & The Skywalker Legacy
The main cause of this in my opinion is how director J.J. Abrams steers away from the events of The Last Jedi and because of this the characters and their motivations in The Rise of Skywalker feel far more juvenile. Decisions made about characters and their journey in The Last Jedi have been subtly retconned. Players have been shifted so that they’re still in view of the audience but won’t ruffle any feathers of those that didn’t care for The Last Jedi and in my opinion the film is the lesser for it.
On a technical side The Rise of Skywalker is competent. It looks decent visually and there are moments that instill a sense of awe. John Williams score is once again a noteworthy aspect but even this legend feels tired at this point. In my opinion this is him on auto pilot and it’s fine but at times it felt like the editing of the score was so emotionally manipulative you could tell what he wanted you to feel as the score jumped from sad to happy in sheer seconds.
I even felt the lack of earnestness in the performances of its cast. Even though Ridley, Driver and Boyega are trying their best everyone else around them is on autopilot. Oscar Isaacs is just a quip machine now and it’s just nauseating, Domhnall Gleeson’s Hux has lost all urgency as a character and worst of all is General Leia. Carrie Fisher, in my opinion, should not have been in this film, I understand why people wanted it but the way her scenes are framed felt hollow to me.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: You were supposed to be the chosen one
I walk away from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker a somber individual. I didn’t well up with emotion at the conclusion of the Skywalker legacy and I wanted to.
J.J. Abrams recently stated he can’t end stories and he’s right he can’t. These characters and universe began forty two years ago and they deserved a better send off than this.
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