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Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker – Review

Overview

Rise of Skywalker acts as the final entry to a 42 year old space opera that has spawned a library full of characters, worlds and lore. The opportunities and advancements even to cinema created by this franchise are notable and worthy of any form of celebration.

This movie attempts to do just that, celebrate the good, the bad and even the obscure. EMPHASIS ON THE ATTEMPT.

Al’s comment: I’ve seen this movie roughly four times and each consequent viewing was preceded by a sense of stress and dread to see a beloved franchise that I grew up with (And yes I did grow up with the immensely flawed prequels) become a victim of corporate and shareholder objectives.

Star Wars Episode IX: Fall of Skywalker – A Review

source: https://auburnpub.com/blogs/citizen_pop/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-is-what-happens-when-fandom-swallows-a-franchise/article_dfb4ec9a-af4c-52d0-8679-07233225a25f.html

This image characterizes the divided fanbase, Source: Auburnpub

Plot

This movie spares no moment and skips no action packed beat. Instantly the viewer is treated to action packed scene after scene throughout the course of the movie’s approximate 2 and 1/2 hour runtime. Even this falls back on the movie itself as it becomes mentally exhausting to watch, even the harsh epilepsy inducing planet of Exagol has trouble keeping viewers in focus.  Each line and scene serves only to push the plot forward which within the first few minutes cements the minimal to non-existent character development opportunities. Though this is to be expected as the final installment of a trilogy. Plot points are loosely explained and the short breaks in between each action set-piece only exist for exposition, how minimal and simplified it is. In addition to the blatant simplification, much of the Last Jedi’s plot points and characters are ignored to the point of minor reference which is confusing due to the limited runtime that a three movie arc can have. It doubles down on the notion wherein the character and world development done in the Last Jedi is wasted by the end of that film and are completely unappreciated at all in this one.

Al’ comment: I find a huge stark comparison between this and Blade Runner 2049. Blade Runner gives the viewer every inch of information to be able to draw plot point conclusions and beliefs to the point where the viewer themselves are convinced that they are right. This movie almost attempts to do that but in the wrong way. Wherein they provide minimal “screen-value” context and expect the viewers to fill in the gaps themselves. The truth is Rise of Skywalker can be a robust movie touching on many elements and items throughout the 42 year history of the franchise. But it requires extensive (and I mean beyond watching the side series) knowledge to be able to put those loose pieces together. Even then, the pieces are not from the same puzzle.

Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewie, C3, R2, Lando, General Leia, Rose, Maz Kanata, and SEVEN new characters (Some introduced as late as over 1 hour into the movie) hear Emperor Palpatine’s mysterious and unexplained threat to the galaxy and search for the source of the message to prevent whatever threat may be awaiting them. The threat becomes clear when another Death-Star-esque planet killer weapon is unveiled. In the meantime Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren (Remember those guys from Episode 7?) ally the First Order with the Sith armada provided by Palpatine. Thus, creating the FINAL ORDER.

It’s a classic Star Wars affair where alignments change and redemption is earned through a series of short conversations and plot holes resulting in a victory for the heroes. Which is inconsequential for roughly 99% of the cast.

The writing attempts to have the wit and charm of a Marvel movie (which has become the mainstream for every Disney parented movie) but nothing really lands outside of a slight chuckle. However, there is the noteworthy occasional throwback and clever usage of homage.

Source: https://www.digitalspy.com/movies/a32901670/star-wars-adam-driver-han-solo-leia-bad-parents-ben-solo/

“I know.” Source: Digitalspy

Unfortunately every little detail and movement of the plot is muddled with blatant corporate intervention. Enemies designed to sell toys, characters acting in ways that would get appeal to demographics, Reylo’s kiss, even returning Palpatine was solely to capitalize on the extremely unappeasable and fussy super-fans of the original trilogy who went as far as bullying a young Jake Lloyd to a state of schizophrenia.

Al’s comment: This movie, and many other movies of this kind are a product of marketing, something I understand to be the norm in modern western cinema. But never, and I mean never has interference been this blatant even for someone who wouldn’t notice these things. It rips you right out of the movie and makes you feel like you’re in the STAR WARS merchandise Aisle.

The story concludes itself with an attempt to have all parts (even including appearances from the tv series) of the franchise appear, creating what would be a fine ending to the series, before the theme of inconsequence muddles that once again. Overall the story and characters are messy and contradictive respectively resulting in a faceplant that nobody would and/or should ever recover from.

Characters

As mentioned earlier, there is a huge roster of characters which is far too many for the final installment of a trilogy. Recurring characters ignored the developments (that in itself was ignored in that same movie) from the Last Jedi and not only regressed in personality, but in ability to be a person. This statement is not to be confused where each actor/tress did a horrific job, they did wonderfully for every little bit they were given. The problem is what they were given.

Source: https://thehealthymouse.com/rise-of-skywalker/

The female leads including two new characters from Rise of Skywalker, Source: The Healthy Mouse.

Al’s comment: Usually this character section is short in my reviews, but there are a couple MAJOR crimes and doing dirties done in this movie.

Rose.

This character was unnecessary in the Last Jedi, she steered Finn’s character off path and created some cringe-inducing moments which did in turn some development. This does not warrant harassment towards the actress (again wonderful job portraying a bad character). However, Rose should not have been sidelined in this installment. She was treated like garbage and as if the director and upper management blamed her for the fiscal loss for the Last Jedi. She should’ve joined the main crew on their adventures wherein the target was to keep all the mainline cast of the sequel trilogy together. She would’ve played a good role in grounding the team as well as the romantic interest for Finn (which was decided by Rian in the Last Jedi).

Finn.

Finn was advertised to be the main character of the Force Awakens and had the most stark, daunting and interesting character arc of the series, even his willingness to die for the cause in the Last Jedi was remarkable. However, (and I think John Boyega would agree) he would’ve been better off dying in the previous film given how his character was reduced to a name screaming madman in this one. Finn was done dirty, his character was treated nearly the same way as Rose. Reduced to such a level of insignificance, the viewer would likely forget his predominance and presence throughout the entire film thinking he had a hand for a handful of scenes.

Al’s comment: I really wished Finn and Poe had a thing. It would’ve been way better than the hype generated for some characters in the background sharing a kiss.

Snoke.

He was a clone. That’s it.

Al’s comment: More like supreme leader Joke. Also I guess Kaminoans are Sith since cloning is a Sith secret.

General Leia.

Al’s comment: I can’t for the life of me find the article I read this on, but when asked about how Leia would be played by Carrie Fisher, J.J. had replied quoting her: “We have everything we need.” That is the most deepest shade of a red flag anyone could ever witness.

Each one of  Leia’s lines were generic, vague and at times obviously clipped from multiple recordings. Her face moved at a separate plane of existence as the rest of her body. It is almost comparable to Will Smith and young Will Smith in the epilogue of Gemini Man. It was a gross misuse of not only the character, but far more importantly the namesake, visage and life of Carrie Fisher.

Palpatine.

“Somehow, Emperor Palpatine has returned”. A line said by Poe, with the acting and conviction of someone who cannot believe the bullshit or even lack of it to explain the presence of such a pivotal and crucial return. Even Ian McDiarmid was insanely surprised to return to the franchise and role given that the creator of the franchise expressed very clearly that his character was dead.

Zorii Bliss.

This characters introduction was badass and added much more background to Poe. It’s a shame she is only present for roughly 10 minutes of the trilogy. The character had so much to offer but was thrown away, much like Captain Phasma, Snoke or DJ who did not ever see the finale of the trilogy.

Jannah.

It was a neat revelation to see and hear that there were others who had been others like Finn (which yes craps on his arc of being a unique stormtrooper case, but strengthens his motive to leave the first order). She (much like Zorii Bliss) has an incredibly badass style and background, but also becomes best friends with Finn over the course of the 20 minutes of screen-time she has. Though her character is nice, it should’ve been Rose with Finn on the Star Destroyer in the finale.

Al’ comment: The only fully fleshed out character to make an appearance is Babu Frik. That’s literally it.  

Aesthetic: Visuals, Sound, Soundtrack and Score

John Williams brings familiar and some new themes of action, adventure, sci-fi and fantasy epics to life as color, depth and emotion are added as backdrops to the visual spectacle this movie boasts. This movie is good looking. Colors pop, practical effects are high quality, environments are jarring (if a bit uninspired, Pasanna is just Tatooine and Ajan Kloss is a mix of Endor and Kashyyyk.) and visuals are striking. When this is viewed with an auto-HDR set, it’s really nice to look at. This is to be expected with a Star Wars flick, so it was nice to have the most bare-bones of expectations met.  Shots capture the purpose of the scene with the only complaint being the nauseating quick turn that J.J. will often use.

Source: https://www.starwars.com/news/5-things-we-learned-from-the-star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-visual-dictionary

Some of the striking visuals from Rise of Skywalker. Source: Star Wars.com

Conclusion

Rise of Skywalker is simply not good. It’s a product of too much producer, corporate and shareholder meddling creating scenes and characters whose sole purposes are to sell tickets before even reading their own lines or understanding their presence in the movie. The writing is cringe-inducing, and generic be it for the small glimpses of acceptable banter and throwbacks that momentarily soothe collective groans.

Too many characters with too pivotal roles are introduced in too short of a timespan for anyone to develop real feelings, connections or even comprehensions of their presence. The only acceptable elements of Rise of Skywalker appear in its aesthetic which has had 42 years to develop by the time of release.

Al’s comment: It’s spineless and shows an immense lack of skill, expertise and creativity to ignore the previous installment of the franchise out of fear for having empty theatre seats. J.J you should be as proud to put your name on this as Jon Favreau is to put on his blatant plagiarism (disguised as a remake) known as the Lion King. Within a year I’ve lost respect and any intention of viewing anything with your names attached. Also Jon, we know that the Mandalorian is 99% Dave Filoni so don’t stroke your ego too hard about that.

Overall the entirety of the sequel trilogy showcases how a level of corporate mismanagement can deliberately ruin the potential for… well… anything.  Something that can be seen in the final scenes where the three main characters embrace one another for the last time knowing that their contracts are completed and never again will they be forced to step into the mess that is the sequel trilogy.

Al’s comment: There will always be people who love these movies, people who grew up with it the same way I grew up with the prequels and every gross thing that those did wrong. And maybe yet just like the prequels, the sequels will age and create a whole new generation who appreciate them. That in itself is a wonderful thing and is why Star Wars will always be timeless. But this movie particularly? Will not.

The stark difference between the two comes down to a simple statement I had read elsewhere:

“George Lucas made the prequels because he wanted to, Disney made the sequels for money.”

This movie, this trilogy is worth skipping if you are someone who has been fortunate enough not to lay your eyes upon the bare innards of a money-making machine. Like a clear plastic Xbox, Nintendo 64 or Gameboy, there is little to disguise in the form of a movie let alone a narrative. For those of which who are growing up with it, I hope that you could prove everyone wrong and love these movies for what they are. But hey, at least Chewie got his medal.

In any case, I do not recommend viewing this movie if: You don’t like the prequels, you don’t like the original trilogy, you are epileptic, you get mentally drained fast, you are easily nauseated, you are a suggestive consumer, you hate the monster that Disney is becoming and if you can’t stand plot-holes.

If you pass that list then this is something you might like.

Al’s abstract: Buy now, this pile of shit, you will, mmmmmm. Rate this, 0.4384673687436 force ghost plot tape instances, out of 10000000000000000000000000000000, I do.

P.S.

Remember this Disney?

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