Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on basement television.
I can’t say that I came to Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker with an overwhelming amount of hope. I might have been a lot more excited about this had I watched it before the current controversy concerning the film and the role of John Boyega. Boyega recently came out aggressively about the way that he and his character Finn were treated in general. He has a real point. In The Force Awakens, Finn was clearly put forward as one of the major new characters. His role was severely curtailed in the next film and in this one. And, honestly, he’s right.
I don’t tend to make massive pronouncements on this blog, but sometimes the circumstances force me to. I grew up on Star Wars. I saw A New Hope no less than 20 times in theaters as a kid. I loved the universe and the very idea of the universe. And now, having seeing The Rise of Skywalker, the truth is, as painful as it is for me to say it, that the Star Trek universe is a better one. It has a better overall message, and the creators treat the characters better and with greater respect. I hate that I had to say that, but it’s true.
I’m not going to try to break down the plot here because I’m not sure that I’m capable. The Rise of Skywalker goes in about 50 different directions at all times, bringing in characters from the last couple of movies for a line or two, adding new characters for no evident reason other to add them, creating new Force powers on the fly, and generally just moving from the opening of the film to get us to the climactic battle we know is coming for no other reason then the fact that we know it’s coming. We’re also going to get the final footage of Carrie Fisher as Leia, evidently pulled from unused moments from the previous film. We’ll also get Mark Hamill as Luke and Harrison Ford as Han showing up as Force ghosts. We get the reappearance of Billy Dee Williams as Lando, and for a brief, shining second, Denis Lawson shows up as Wedge Antilles in what is absolutely the film’s best moment.
But, and I hate that I have to say this as well, I spent a great deal of the film’s run time simply confused at what was happening. We’re going to spend a great deal of time dealing with new Force abilities because Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are spiritually connected through the Force. What this means is that they are (somehow) capable of interacting physically with each other no matter where they are in the galaxy. So, Kylo can strip Rey of a necklace despite not being near her and then have it analyzed to find out where she is. They can fight with each other lightsaber-style despite being light years apart. And, bluntly, it doesn’t work for me at all.
We also get Force healing, and evidently the ability for Sith and/or Jedi to possess other people. In fact, that’s a big part of the story here—Emperor Palpatine (Iam McDiarmid) is back somehow and living on a secret Sith planet because of course he is. Why create a new enemy or simply keep Kylo Ren as the bad guy when we have the opportunity to go back and once again pick the bones of the Orig Trilig? All of this just feels like fan service, and not here for any useful narrative purpose, but instead to direct the fans’ response to what is happening in a very specific and directed way.
I’m just going to say that I’m putting a lot of the blame on J.J. Abrams. John Boyega suggests that Abrams should be absolved of a lot of guilt, but it’s his name on the film at the end, like it or not. The Force Awakens was also helmed by Abrams and it was almost a direct reboot of Episode IV: A New Hope. Rian Johnson came in for The Last Jedi, and while there were people who didn’t like where he took the franchise, it was at least an attempt to do something new. Evidently, scared by the fans who didn’t like Episode VIII despite it clearly being the best of the third trilogy, Disney decided to go full-on in “giving the fans what they want.” In trying to please everyone, they’ve ended up with a film that is loud and bombastic and colorful, but that feels empty.
This could have been so much better. It should have been so much better.
It’s depressing, but it’s also true that The Rise of Skywalker is flashy and showy and bombastic, and ultimately disappointing. Like it or not, people are still talking about the MCU. They’re still talking about the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. But Game of Thrones, which took up so much time and space in the general public’s mind for years ended so badly that no one talks about it anymore. I fear The Rise of Skywalker might lead Star Wars down that same path.
Why to watch Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker: It ends the epic.
Why not to watch: It could have been so much better.
I saw the film in the theaters and it was packed but unlike my experience with Avengers: Endgame which was loud, lively, and full of energy. The experience I had was more like "huh?" "what?" and "uh..." At the end of it, everyone was like.... "that's it?"ReplyDelete
I have the film on my hard drive and I'm tempted to re-watch it but I'm also replaying the film in my head and... there's things that bug me about it and Boyega was right. All he does in this film is scream "REY!" I was one of the people that enjoyed the hell out of The Last Jedi and liked the fact that the film took risks and also suggested so much more. Having skimmed through the Duel of the Fates script written by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow (who was supposed to direct the film), it's a story with flaws but it at least did more with the characters and had some ideas that I think with a few re-writes could've been well executed.
Instead, J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy got scared and catered to the worst kind of fanboys who have sand in their vaginas and made this. And yes, Star Trek over Star Wars. Anyone who saw the final credits of Avengers: Endgame would know where producer Kevin Feige got the idea for the final credits.
I like The Last Jedi the best of the final trilogy, and not by a little. I think it's the most interesting film and the one that tries to do the most. Sure, not everything works (and General Phasma is Boba Fett-levels of underused), but at least they tried to do something good and to stay true to the original stories.Delete
I agree that this was bad fan service. They got scared and rather than risk for something great, gave us what the most toxic of fans wanted. Properties like Star Wars need to divest themselves of those fans, but never will--it seems to be about the quick buck rather than the long-term story. So disappointing.
I like this one better than most, but I definitely agree that it could've been, and should've been way better. Fan service gives us nice moments, but do not a narrative make.ReplyDelete
I'm not even sure I like the fan service moments that much. This all seemed nonsensical in so many ways and so disappointing.Delete
I'm still so disappointed in TROS. I was always dreading Trevorrow directing it and was so excited when he got fired, then JJ just came in with the same unimaginative shit he always does. I think the fan service is even more glaring after Avengers: Endgame came out and had fan service that actually felt natural to the plot.ReplyDelete
Right? That giant fan service moment at the start of the giant battle worked because it was what we needed in the moment. It fit in with the story that had been building, and while it could have come across as cheap, it didn't. It really worked.Delete
I don't object to fan service, but, as you say, it has to work with the plot. It can't stand in for the plot.
I really like that notion you hit on throughout this review; that this film is the epitome of the concept of "giving the fans what they want" when it's taken to its extremes, and how that exact "style" of filmmaking (or producing films, rather) is exactly what's wrong with a lot of big-budget, mass-produced features today. Give the fans literally everything they want, and cram as much of it in as they want, and this is what you get... empty, soulless movies whose aim is just trying to jerk off its fanbase to get them to feel pleasure instead of trying to get them to actually FEEL.ReplyDelete
I've always abided by the phrase "too much of anything, even a good thing, is a bad thing", and this review sums up a lot of why I hold to that belief.
I'm also with you on liking The Last Jedi the most of the sequel trilogy; the film has flaws, but it was at least trying to do something new and different with the universe. There's other reasons I liked that one over the other two, but they're mostly irrelevant to the topics you've brought up here.
I agree with you. In the moment, the battle and the climax of that battle is bright and shiny, and there are things happening, and there's constant movement. And when it's over, it becomes clear just how empty that experience was. It's the embodiment of sound and fury signifying nothing.Delete
The end of The Last Jedi is so good. It's what pissed a lot of people off, but it's the purest distillation of exactly how Luke would use the Force. It shows such a deep understanding of the character that I will forgive the movie a lot of faults for that moment.
"The Last Jedi" was the movie to which I devoted a ton of column-inches and mental energy because it brought out some very interesting ideas. But like you, I was thoroughly disappointed by "The Rise of Skywalker," and by the end of this trilogy, I was also suffering from Star Wars fatigue. Within the Disney context, the saving grace of the franchise will be the spinoff movies and TV series, I think... unless Lucas manages to (1) grow a spine, (2) de-couple his brainchild from Disney, and (3) allow aggressively creative talent (along the lines of a Dave Filoni) to write future scripts.ReplyDelete
In a perfect world, this is exactly what would happen with Star Wars. Disney will always follow the money, though, and will make terrible decisions about the franchise long-term for short-term profit.Delete
Lucas is no longer in the picture. Disney owns Star Wars completely. Not sure Lucas is even being consulted. I agree that Filoni should be involved in everything Star Wars.Delete
The entire sequel trilogy was mishandled by Disney. They should have taken more time, had the trilogy planned out in advance, and given us a complete, well-structured story with a new storyline and great characters. Instead, they mimicked the original trilogy story and, as you say, included way too much fanservice. The return of Palpatine was stupid and the plotholes numerous.ReplyDelete
Very, very disappointing.
Ultimately, I agree. I hate to say it because the original trilogy was so formative for me, but Star Wars disappointed me in the end.Delete
I wonder how much appeasing their Chinese overlords by Disney ruined this franchise. I can only hope they don't destroy the Marvel one as well in bowing down and groveling for more of China's ticket sales instead of U.S. ones.ReplyDelete
From today's Hollywood Reporter, "John Boyega is stepping down as a brand ambassador for the British perfume and candle company Jo Malone after the brand reshot a video he created for the Chinese market."Delete
Hard not to side with Boyega, honestly.Delete