Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – Movie Review

movie reviewLet’s start with the fact that I really liked what they did with The Force Awakens. I wouldn’t call it too clever but it’s a well made “soft reboot”. The film managed to find the right strings to play and sparked the imagination of all fans. JJ Abrams did a fine enough job. The Last Jedi, the follow up film, written and directed by Rian Johnson was very polarizing to say the least. I guess the task he was given was to cut ties with most of the familiar Star Wars elements and give the franchise a new direction by subverting expectations. I completely understand the motivation for that step and in some parts the movie actually did fine. But other parts got me angry. Especially how they treated the character of Luke Skywalker. It wasn’t so much the place and state of mind he was in. It was the presentation of him and certain actions I would never expect Luke to do. So the ultimate message of that film was to leave everything behind for something new. It did not work too well. Especially that chase plot throughout the film. Nothing really happens in that 2 hour film. Now we have JJ Abrams back with The Rise Of Skywalker. The film to bring all the threads together and find a satisfying end to the most popular scifi series, in the making since 1977.

After the backlash we’ve seen for The Last Jedi it was quite a challenge to please the fans with this last film of a nine movie series. My hope for this film was a longer break in the timeline. The ending of The Last Jedi was very dark. The Rebellion/Resistance was pretty much defeated. So why not start the next film a couple of years later? Leave some room for speculations for the fans. It would also detach this new film a little better from The Last Jedi and what happened there (not too much… but still!). Instead of giving it time we start what seems like almost immediately after the last film.

There will be spoilers in this discussion.

The film starts and not much has changed from where we left off at the end of the last film. The First Order is still wreaking havoc in the galaxy and our heroes lick their wounds and hide on a jungle planet (too familiar? yes!). The Emperor, through his almighty force powers he did let the galaxy know that he’s not dead and preparing a comeback. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) manages to obtain a Sith Wayfinder that leads him to Emperor Palpatine’s (Ian McDiarmid) hideout. It’s well hidden, outside the known regions of the galaxy. When Kylo meets Palpatine we get our first load of “trying to fix what Last Jedi did”. And these fixes are sprinkled in throughout the film. Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the meantime is trained by Leia (Carrie Fisher) to complete her Jedi training. Of course our heroes start their journey soon too. There is a second Wayfinder to be found! We get to see a load of new places and characters. The film leaves no breathing room and jumps from one setpiece to another. It’s all spectacle and no room for character development. There is only one real personal character scene in this film. A confrontation between Kylo and Rey in the middle of the film. This part was executed really well. Only these two characters and their struggles embedded in a nifty lightsaber fight. We get another fight between them later and it’s alright too but by far not as good as the first confrontation. Throughout the film we see our protagonists hunt objects that lead to another object that eventually leads to Palpatines hideout. On that journey we get a lot of scenes that have an Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi vibe. Much like The Force Awakens we have a lot of familiar stuff sprinkled in. It kind of does and doesn’t work at the same time. If there is a second movie like Last Jedi that tries to cut ties and does something new… we should follow that up in the third film. Now it feels as if the second film doesn’t really exists. You could play The Force Awakens and Rise Of Skywalker back to back and you wouldn’t miss the Last Jedi at all. Which leads to the unfortunate conclusion that Disney had no plan at all for these three films. Especially this last one feels very rushed when it comes to its plot. And beside Kylo and Rey all the other characters (that are very likeable throughout the films) fall completely flat. Adam Driver acts the crap out of his Kylo Ren character and for me he’s the only thing holding the films together. Rey is a nice character too but by far not as conflicted as Kylo. The bad guy, as usual, is far more interesting. Ultimately, as a long long long time fan it’s frustrating to see this story unfold. So many wasted oportunities in favour of plain and flat spectacle. Oh, and the final space battle is one of the worst choreographed space battles I’ve ever seen in a scifi film.

After an Indiana Jones like hunt for places and objects we get said final space battle of course. Along with the confrontation of Palpatine. And while most of the things that happened before could be shrugged off, a lot of things start to make seriously no sense anymore in this third act. A lot of “How did he…?” and “How is it possible…?” questions pop up. And there are no answers. And while watching the film you don’t have much time thinking because it moves so fast from one thing to the next thing to the next thing. Almost deliberately. Just don’t make the audience think too much while watching the film! Keep them busy at all costs! And when the credits start to roll it’s almost a waking up moment.

I saw this film relatively late. Went into it without big expectations. Avoided spoilers as much as possible. I admit it, Last Jedi left a mark on me. Immediately after the film was done I felt a hole in my stomach. That waking up moment. “So that’s it now?”, I asked myself. Growing up with all the Extended Universe novels (that are not part of the Star Wars canon anymore), I expected something so much grander. Especially when it comes to how they treated our beloved characters. Now this new trilogy definitely has its moments and a lot of entertainment. And that’s what these films are reduced to, “moments” and “entertainment”. There is almost no depth. It feels shallow. After seeing all three films it seems that The Last Jedi, the movie everyone hated so much, is probably the best one! Because itat least ‘tried’.

Now I would still place this trilogy above the prequel trilogy but the original trilogy still is on top. By far. Should Disney attempt a new movie series (and they will), it needs to be planned out and not be done on a movie by movie basis. The good thing is that they are forced to do something new now. Sure, you can sprinkle in some references here and there I’m sure… but overall it needs a new story and new characters. I’ll be there and watch it. I’m too much of a Star Wars nut to miss it. Did the prequels and the sequels ruin the original trilogy for me? Absolutely not. Still, I expected more heart and depth from these new films.

My conclusion: Star Wars desperately needs a new identity.

A 6.8/10 for me.

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker on IMDb

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