A battle scene from Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker
Cast: Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
Director: JJ Abrams
One of the many subplots of Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker is about a mole on one of the two warring sides. The mole’s identity, while not central to the plot, still piques the viewers’ interest. Who could it be? While one might land on the right guess in an attempt or two, it’s the mole’s intention that demands your attention. They say they did it out of spite for another, the one calling all the shots. “I don’t care if you win, I just want *redacted* to lose,” they say.
Watch Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker trailer here[embedded content]
In that moment, having sat through more than an hour of JJ Abrams’ ordeal of a film, I wondered if JJ was speaking through this character. With Rise of the Skywalker, JJ sets on fire the biggest ideas, characters, and their arcs that were introduced by Rian Johnson in the divisive predecessor The Last Jedi. Could it be out of spite? This rising large, dark cloud of a film is a clue if I’ve ever seen one.
In 2017, Rian’s The Last Jedi divided Star Wars fans into two groups — those who liked it and those who hated it with the fiery vengeance. How could Rey (Daisey Ridley) be a nobody? How could Supreme Leader Snoke get taken out without any answers about his origin? How is there not enough nostalgia? A clarification—Personally, I loved The Last Jedi and its many new ideas including Rey’s ancestry and legacy being swept off the plot line. Why do our heroes always have to be special by birth; born to important people who inadvertently die? Here’s looking at you Rowling.
A fight scene from Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker.
And the harsh criticism seems to be the force that flowed through JJ, his only guide as he birthed this confused mess of a film. He set out to ‘right’ all the ‘wrongs’ one-by-one, losing the bigger picture, the film, the trilogy or hell, even the 9-film franchise.
There is fun to be had in individual scenes, how else would they have been able to cut two brilliant trailers out of a movie as dull as this one. The action is still gorgeous and grand but nothing, absolutely nothing, will get your heart racing as much as seeing Laura Dern tear through a Star Destroyer at light speed. Nothing will look as stunning as ships leaving a trail of blood red salt on the battlefield. And no send-off will be as perfect as Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) evaporating in thin air.
Daisy Ridley (left) as Rey, in a still from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Instead of building off the last film and tying away those ideas, we are dragged though yet another infestation of Jedi ghosts, Sith rituals, more chatter about Rey choosing the right side, something one would think was behind us after that month long trainee program under Luke. And yet, like a desperate suitor who just wouldn’t take no for an answer, Kylo won’t stop trying to seduce her to the dark side. It’s a whole exercise and just not fun or even sexy anymore. Adam Driver is not even meme-ably shirtless anymore.
Rey, Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) band together as the Harry, Ron and Hermione of a galaxy far far away. Hopping from one set location to another (most likely one giant green wall), they are always searching for one MacGuffin or another. The motivations are immediate and the missions eat up the scenery. There is no room for emotions, which is a shame considering one is supposed to bid goodbye to these characters, some of which we have loved for decades.
Rise of the Skywalker is a disappointment bigger than The Last Jedi could ever have been. Taking risks and not landing on your feet is still forgivable. You stuck to your guns Rian Johnson and someday the world will appreciate you for it. And someday, no one will remember who made the best ghost of their favourite film.
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