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It was weird, goofy, ridiculous and pissed people off. But it was extremely subversive and no one expected a film like this, especially fans of The Last Jedi waiting on a sequal.
It also take's Rey's character to a suitably subversive place, even if the audience and critics won't be satisfied with it and it didn't really make sense.
Rian Johnson himself said that catering to fans is a mistake and they should be challenged, so there is no reason for him to be unhappy with this sequal.
Edit “I think approaching any creative process with [making fandoms happy] would be a mistake that would lead to probably the exact opposite result,” Johnson said. “Even my experience as a fan, you know if I’m coming into something, even if it’s something that I think I want, if I see exactly what I think I want on the screen, it’s like ‘oh, okay,’ it might make me smile and make me feel neutral about the thing and I won’t really think about it afterwards, but that’s not really going to satisfy me.”
Johnson added, “I want to be shocked, I want to be surprised, I want to be thrown off-guard, I want to have things recontextualized, I want to be challenged as a fan when I sit down in the theater…What I’m aiming for every time I sit down in a theater is to have the experience [I had] with ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ something that’s emotionally resonant and feels like it connects up and makes sense and really gets to the heart of what this thing is and in a way that I never could have seen coming.”
So for all its flaws, for all it may leave the viewer scratching their head or unsatisfied or finding parts of the film completely implausible, Rise is truly the perfect sequal to TLJ ad Rian couldn't have done any better himself
I'm sad to say that this time, I get the criticisms. Sure, it brings back the thrilling Star Wars film style that I loved in TFA, and has the same strengths in characters and comedy...but the film does not commit to the plot decisions from The Last Jedi and has fundamental plot points that feel either hard to swallow or wrongly "safe" as a result. It screams that the trilogy is not a collaborative effort, but the result of a director returning and trying to put back together a plot that can't exist now. There is an astonishing lack of self-awareness, then, that a scene shows Kylo Ren having his mask repaired, with the result showing ugly cracks across its surface. This film is that mask- a refusal to move forward into new territory, but no longer able to wear the old image well.
The characters, again, are okay. They interact well, and Rey continues the harrowing flirtation with the Dark Side. I do think the film backs out on the chance for her Dark actions to have real consequence, thus nullifying some drama, and her ultimate decision comes too soon in the story. I loved the uncertainty, that I couldn't be sure of her morality, and wish her choice had been saved for the climax.
Kylo Ren is weaker, since he is not given the chance to operate on his own like we were promised in the last film. His relationship with Rey is suitably antagonistic given their parting before, but the film doesn't really earn back their tenderness. Ren was scary in TFA, and tragic in TLJ. Here, I didn't think he had enough weight to elicit much emotion from me at all, and his fate was not what I expected from a trilogy that built itself on new turns.
Poe and Finn are a little reduced, which is a shame. Finn was originally an equal player to Rey, but he's gotten less and less time.
Leia is sent off as best they could. It's unfortunate they couldn't fully complete the parallel stories of two generations of heroes.
I was skeptical about Palpatine, and I still am. It feels like the story is putting itself back under the shadow of the original trilogy and rejecting TLJ's setup for something really new, and he brings two horrendous plot points with him that fit the problems of "not established" and "walks back the plot of TLJ." You'll know them when you see them, but they're sloppy and damage the emotional weight of Rey's journey and Ren's history. The Emperor's return just feels unimaginative. Could they really not have carried the conflict solely with the substance of Ren and Rey's fractured relationship and Rey's terrifying pull to the Dark Side? I think they could have. I was intrigued by the Snoke confrontation because it was ROTJ done early and so the climax of this film would have to be completely original...but it's not.
Also, there are no big couples by the end, which feels weird. Finn and Poe are given new love interests seemingly to combat fan perception of them being into each other, but nobody enters a relationship, with Finn/Rose dropped. I never saw Finn/Poe as a thing, and can't say I miss Finn/Rose, but Finn/Rey, which I did see, never happens either. It's an odd choice.
In the end, this film feels like Star Wars to me, but really doesn't hold up under scrutiny. It has great moments and ones that make me understand the "remove it from canon" mentality, and ultimately exposes that the sequel trilogy isn't creatively unified.
I really do not understand why Abrams actually created that plot as of The Force Awakens in the first place. How could THAT be so important? Why would Rey be so obsessed in finding her parents? Try to see it like this: She has been surviving by herself for YEARS. Sure, she has been lonely for so long, but hey she had a pretty decent life. Lonely, but decent life. She had problems with Unkar Plutt being abusive to her, so what? She already has piloting that could have taken her anywhere away from Jakku if she was actually willing to leave. All in all, her life was not as bad and lonely as she made it out to be. Now, TFA was clearly trying to be “realistic” Star Wars movie by making the characters act like how real-life people would act if they were in Star Wars universe. This is pretty apparent especially compared to horribly emotionless or emotionally dissonant characters in the Prequels. By that logic, shouldn’t it be more realistic if Rey didn't actually care and was more like: “If I could ever be reunited with my parents, cool. If I couldn't, well, I have been living on my own pretty well for years. So what if they never returned?” This is why her obsession to learn and find her parents is actually really annoying and wasted too much time throughout the Sequel Trilogy.
Then, TLJ went with “Rey was a nobody.” I was like, okay.... because when you think about it, LUKE freaking SKYWALKER was actually kind of nobody before learning that Darth Vader is his father. Think about this: Yeah he was told that his father Anakin was the famous Jedi hero of Clone Wars, but so what? He really didn’t know ANYTHING about his father at the time. Even if some people in Rebel Alliance knew about Anakin, they either wouldn’t believe that Luke was actually Anakin’s son or they wouldn’t know anything about Anakin at all. That is why I’m considering that, before Luke learned that Vader is his father, Luke was actually kind of nobody himself. He WAS a freaking farm boy, for the Force’s sake, he’s not a royalty like Leia was. TLJ depicted Rey had Changeling Fantasy about who her parents might be, and might be fantasizing about one of her parents being none other than one of the Original Trilogy Power Trio. But THEN AGAIN, Luke also more or less created Changeling Fantasy himself about what his father’s heroism throughout Clone Wars could be, and that’s why he’s so shocked when he learned that his father, the great war hero he had been fantasizing about, actually was THE VILLAIN.
That is why when Rian Johnson made a big deal about Rey being nobody and supposedly for inclusivity’s sake to the audiences, it really wasn’t that special for me and eventually I only said “Meh.” Especially because in The Clone Wars, we’ve already seen plenty of Jedi whose backgrounds we didn’t even know, not even they care about it. The revelation about Rey being nobody was only a big deal because of Rey’s obsession to find her, because of her Changeling Fantasy, and because it shocked her so much to know that her parents are complete losers. Again, it wouldn’t shocked her so bad if she was never so OBSESSED in finding her parents since the beginning. So, in the end, her obsession is merely annoying instead of intriguing.
I mostly blamed Abrams about this. If he never made Rey being obsessed in finding her parents since TFA, the Sequels wouldn’t be too plagued with it. Seriously when you think about it, it’s annoying that TFA ends with Rey being hopeful in finding her parents, then TLJ went with telling her that they are nobody, and then TROS went with telling her that her grandfather actually is THE VILLAIN.
Of course, I wouldn’t just give the critics and I would try to be more constructive by giving out my opinion about how this plot should’ve been handled so it could be more somewhat tolerable. Here is my opinion: Rey shouldn’t care about her parents AT FIRST because for all she knew, they might have abandoned her and she already had pretty decent life on her own in Jakku. So, it’s really not that important to find out where they might be unless she thought they’re in some kind of danger. However when Kylo Ren mind-probed her, it SERIOUSLY broke her and made her realized she’s never felt more lonely in her entire life. And THIS is where her Break the Cutie made her snap that she is suddenly obsessed to find them. The rest is pretty much the same with what happened in TLJ and TROS, but I believe the impact would’ve been stronger because the plotline would’ve been like this:
1) She’s content with her lonely life and didn’t care much if her parents were still alive
2) Kylo Ren’s mind probe broke her psychologically. She snapped and as the result, she suddenly becomes obsessed to find her parents
3) She tried to consult with Leia about this, but Leia (who may already knew since the beginning that Rey is a Palpatine) tried to convince her that she already has new family in Resistance and that she’s like a daughter to her. But this dissatisfies Rey in a somewhat similar way to when Anakin was disatisfied with Obi-Wan in AOTC, so she decides to find her parents without help
4) She found they’re nobody. She’s broken at first, but then laugh at herself and wondering why she suddenly cared about them, as she never truly cared about them until Kylo Ren messed with her mind
5) She eventually cleared her mind and is content with her past, now she’s trying to make a new life by having Jedi training under Leia, whom she started to regard as her own mother.
6) THEN she found out she’s actually granddaughter of Palpatine, the biggest bad of the galaxy. At this point, Rey has officially become Cosmic Plaything and she crossed Despair Event Horizon while running away to Achto to exile herself would’ve been more hurtful to watch, and even Luke (as Force-Ghost) would take some time to snap her back to reality.
Yeah, that’s pretty much my idea about what I think how the plot involving Rey’s parents should’ve been handled. I actually kind of agree to Abrams when he said “I completely understand 'you're nobody' is a devastating thing, to me the more painful, the more shocking thing was the idea that you're from the worst possible place. And is that thing that you feel that you know is part of you somehow, that you're haunted by, is that your destiny? And the idea that there are things more powerful than blood, as Luke says, that thing was a really important thing to convey for us.” Yeah, I don’t actually mind about Rey being a Palpatine. What I REALLY don’t like is how the plot is handled, as it plagued the Sequel Trilogy and becomes painfully clear that Abrams and Johnson were Writing by the Seat of Your Pants.
If The Last Jedi was good but full of weird bits, The Rise of Skywalker is bad but full of good bits. And when I mean full, I mean crammed. This story moves at a ridiculous pace, spending the first half hour or so leaping between at least three threads, multiple planets, and a plethora of conflicting tones. Scenes end before they've barely started, and long before we have chance for you to get into them. This movie is like a taster menu at a terrifyingly dysfunctional restaurant, where even if you enjoy an individual morsel, the next one is being rammed down your mouth by an impatient waiter.
I won't spoil story, but on that front, there is one big element I can talk about as it is revealed in the trailers. Palpatine is back in some shape or form. But not in the most sensible or economic way you might expect, and the movie has to waste a lot of time explaining how he works, how to find him, what he's after etc. It feels like a 90s comic book retcon. Abrams evidently had a specific vision of how the new trilogy was going to go, and he wasn't going to let the drastic plot twists of The Last Jedi stop him realising it. Thus it damages a lot of the novel ideas from the previous movie to awkwardly put things back on track, and for our heroes to once again face down a big evil wizard.
Putting aside the lack of imagination or originality, the movie majorly bungles its story telling with an absence of streamlining, and with the inescapable plot holes that become apparent the second a new twist or element is introduced to the viewer. Some parts of the film also look plain stupid, for instance, we are shown a plastic, dollar store toy dagger early on - one of several ultimately unimportant Mcguffins - and I'm amazed that a movie that cost $300 million would include something so plainly crap.
I mentioned good moments, and there are a plenty that you might get a fleeting opportunity to enjoy. C-3PO (my favourite character as a kid) ends up getting a nice heroic moment, there's a couple of new locales I liked the look of including a hilarious Bollywood dance planet, and I liked enough of some of the new vehicles that I started googling for their lego sets straight after. Kylo and Rey's relationship ends up being the most interesting thing about the movie, even if they waste a little too much time sword fighting one another. I want to end on a positive, because I'd have liked Star Wars to end on a positive too. I suppose the best thing you can say is that on completion, you feel like the unspoken obligation to watch any more of these has been lifted forever.
The entire premise of this film is that Emperor Palpatine has returned from the dead and is a threat once again. That premise is SO FUCKING RIDICULOUS. It comes out of nowhere and feels very much like a Diabolus ex Machina (even though it’s technically not since it’s an established character instead of a new one).
Besides the dumb premise, there were a few of other things I didn’t like. There are a few cases where this movie tries to retcon things from the previous one, such as questions regarding Rey’s parentage leading to a Broken Aesop. The pacing is too fast, making the movie feel like someone just put a bunch of plotlines in a blender. The Knights of Ren are under-utilized, as is Rose Tico. I found the ending scene a bit unsatisfying. Lastly, having a certain weapon on the new Star Destroyers seems like unnecessary shōnen-esque Serial Escalation.
However, despite the dumb premise and the other flaws I mentioned, I still enjoyed it. It is fun to watch and “feels” like Star Wars. The action is great, especially the Force-skype lightsaber fight. Despite the blisteringly fast pace, there are still a few good Quiet Drama Scenes. The characters are believable and relatable, with little of the wooden-ness found in some other movies in the franchise. Finally, I liked the new aesop of You Are Not Alone, which is an important thing to remember in our tumultuous modern world.
I give it a 7/10 overall. If you haven’t seen it yet then there are two things to keep in mind: first, you have to just accept the premise of Palpatine returning and not get hung up on how dumb it is; second, if you disliked The Last Jedi and are hoping for this movie to “fix” everything then you will be sorely disappointed.
For much of my life, I saw Return of the Jedi as the end of Star Wars, at least outside of the EU. When I saw The Force Awakens in 2015, I was excited to see Star Wars return to theaters for the first time since the prequels, but The Last Jedi diminished that enthusiasm, and this film ultimately extinguished it.
The film is about the conclusion of the war between the Resistance and the First Order, a war that involves the return of an old enemy, as well as some old friends. Without spoiling too much, some plot threads from the previous film are taken to their logical conclusion, while others are abruptly dropped or retconned away(for example, Rey's parents aren't actually "nobody"). Somewhat similarly, while many significant characters die in this film, it shies away from killing off others, which can be disappointing. Other characters, particularly Finn and Rose, are highly underutilized. The directorship going from J.J. Abrams to Rian Johnson and back definitely shows in the dissonance between The Last Jedi and the two adjacent installments.
This isn't to say that the film doesn't have its strong points. The action sequences are as exciting as always. It's nice to see the film do something with Leia being a Jedi, apart from her highly controversial use of the Force in the previous film. While Rey had been accused of being a Mary Sue in previous installments, here, her feats of heroism come off as earned, rather than given to her. It's also nice to see many familiar faces and locales one last time; say what you will about the ending, but it does feel like a Grand Finale to the saga.
While there were many things I enjoyed about this film, as I mentioned above, after I left the theater, my mind kept going back to the things I didn't like, and the parts that I thought didn't make sense. In the end, Rise of Skywalker has its merits as a film, but they will likely be overshadowed by its flaws, cementing its status as a disappointing end to an iconic film saga.
J.J Abrams had his work cut out on this one. TLJ had thrown most of the plotlines he created under the bus, and now he had to salvage the plot. Did he succeed?...Sorta, I guess.
The film still suffers from the lack of creativity TFA did. The story doesn't completely follow ROTJ's plot structure, which is better than TFA, but bringing back Palpatine was very clearly a cop out due to the lose of Snoke. It would have been much better to follow on from TLJ with Kylo remaining as the main antagonist, keeping the gist of his "kill the past" shchtick in TLJ, therefore giving the film a much more interesting human antagonist, but the main antagonist of Star Wars always has to be pure evil for some reason. Also, the bad guys have some new tech in this movie that is somehow less crative than what the FO already had.
Also, the plot is a bit messy on occasion. The Knights of Ren finally show up and they are grossly underused, as is Lando. There's an abundence of fake out deaths for some reason. The movie moves at a blisteringly fast pace that feels like it's making up for lost time from the previous two films, and it leaves Finn undeveloped in the process, especially consdering the people he meets in this film.
That said, the movie is not without merit. Rey and Kylo's chemistry is still pretty good, and the force link from the previous film remains open and is used in interesting ways. Poe is used much better here than he is in the rest of the sequel trilogy. There's a lot of laughs, and the action and CGI is as good as you'd expect from a Star Wars film. The fast pace mentioned above, while it damages character development, keeps the movie moving forward and means the film never ends up being boring. Despite it's flaws, the film remains enjoyable, and it is probably the best film in the sequel trilogy. It will probably end up being a guilty pleasure like Episode III.
Overall, I view this film in the same way I view Kingdom Hearts III: it's not amazing, and it's definitely not the sendoff the franchise deserves, but it's still undeniably fun.
The Rise of Skywalker is a relentless cinematic onslaught. JJ Abrams’ script feels like a rush job due to the departure of Colin Treverrow, and could have benefited from one or two rewrites.
The bulk of the film is devoted to chasing one underdeveloped MacGuffin after another on a series of under-explored planets. The film refuses to slow its breakneck pace even once. Star Wars films are often fast and chaotic, but even the worst ones slow down occasionally to give us space to process what has happened.
‘'The Rise of Skywalker’' has powerful, dramatic moments: moments that would have been even more effective if Abrams had taken the time to build up to and come down from them, instead of sprinting frantically from one action setpiece to the next.
Strong character moments are lost in the cacophony. The best scenes in the film revolve around the connection between Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. This is unsurprising: their chemistry has been the emotional core of the sequel trilogy since its beginning, through all of its highs and lows. Their Force bond is taken in new and visually creative directions in this film.
However, the other characters are kept out of focus. Poe and Finn are chess pieces who exist in this story only to get from one place to another. And that’s to say nothing of how Rose Tico is- or rather is not- handled.
Two fan-favorites- Lando Calrissian and Emperor Palpatine- return as well, but both are criminally underused. Two of the most charismatic characters from the original trilogy are reduced to flatly spouting exposition in their limited screen time. Abrams decided to bring both characters back in order to excite die-hard fans, despite having no idea what to do with them. If you're excited to see Lando and Palpatine on the big screen again, you may want to temper your expectations.
The climax of the film is similarly disappointing. It cuts between three battles, but due to a rushed pace and a lack of visual and storytelling creativity (save for one neat trick with the Force bond), none of them achieve much emotional resonance. The threat the heroes face is graver than ever, apparently. Yet somehow, I'm more bored than ever.
And the final scene of the film, the last note in the Star Wars symphony, is a plane landing on autopilot: no bumps, but no humanity. It is drenched in the iconography of the franchise but has no idea what those icons actually mean.
The Rise of Skywalker was marketed as an epic finale, a celebration of the history of Star Wars: the good times and bad. It feels more like a futile attempt to win back the fans who were alienated by The Last Jedi. Futile because Disney should have realized that many of those fans were hoping for The Rise of Skywalker to fail years ahead of its release, and will respond to nothing short of seeing The Last Jedi removed from canon. On the upside, The Rise of Skywalker does have the potential to unite a broken fanbase: in dislike of it.
Rise of Skywalker is a Film Designed by a Committee, and when we say that we mean not only an indictment of how the Lucasfilm and Disney execs worked over the story, but the obvious and huge retcons of the story line not only from eps 7 and 8, but also the original trilogy.
In the original trilogy, we cared about the characters. We were curious and even inspired by the force and samurai wizard mentors such as Obi-Wan and Yoda dishing out ice cream koans like [The Force is] "an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together" and "Do. Or do not. There is no try."
Episodes 7, 8 and 9 eschew the samurai warrior/wizard mentor stuff and goes for an origin story of the protagonist Rey. But after three movies, we still know almost nothing about her, and she knows almost nothing about her origins. Why is it that so many strong female characters are devalued by spending their entire story line angsting about "who am I?" I mean does John Wick or James Bond get all emo about their identity?
Special effects are wonderful, of course. The script is just miserable. Lawrence Kasdan this is not. Acting is serviceable. Adam Driver still seems weirdly miscast to me as an evil Sith wannabe overlord. He comes off more like a creepy abusive satanist boyfriend. Daisy Ridley gives a solid performance as Rey. She really gives it her all physically and emotionally. Her whole fierce elf aesthetic made me think of Elfquest.
The music was not John Williams best. It was bombastic, overly dramatic and had only sound and fury, nothing really memorable or lyrical.
One of the things which made Fury Road a great movie was how the battles were set up, you could tell exactly who was where doing what. Ep 9 is the opposite, it's a huge mess.
Trying not to be too spoilerish but there are also big issues in terms of even the internal logic of the third trilogy leading to a problematic and improbable deus ex machina.
The best I can say about ep 9 is that it re-retconned a lot of the scurrilous and disrespectful retcons in ep 8. But continuity is out the window totally. And for folks who enjoy the Old Republic and the legends continuities these three last Star Wars films gave us nothing and disrespected or devalued a lot of what we thought we knew.
Skywalker is a well-made movie in terms of production values. As a story, it is very unfullfilling as a way of ending the Skywalker series and fails in theme, plot, characterization, and continuity.
2 of 4 stars.
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