Our journey has surely come to a close as the fate of Skywalker’s legacy hangs in the balance on an off-screen. With the divisive but oft ill-reviewed Star Wars: The Last Jedi, many have awaited the final chapter in the Star Wars trilogy run that began with The Force Awakens. And before us now stands the monolith that is Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker.
Will the movie be seen as a capstone or a tombstone of the Star Wars franchise. Could certain events like the return of Emperor Palpatine be a ploy to hinge on the Jedi Mind Trick that is Nostalgia. A tried, but true tactic to blind and usher us away from any narrative flaws? Or is it a concisely crafted device to advance the mythos of Star Wars.
You may hate this review by the way because Babu Frik is as much the highest as it is the lowest point of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. Just so you know.
⚠ SPOILERS AHEAD ⚠
A Compass Leading To The Edge of Nowhere
Kylo Ren burns red hot in a field of misery and battle. His motivation… well, if we remembered anything from The Last Jedi was to do away with everything remotely linked to the Force, and to rule the cinerary pile in the thereafter. And at the beginning of our story, Ren jailbreaks a Sith-finding compass to lead him to the stronghold nether realm where –surprise – the once-thought-dead Emperor Palpatine had been hiding all this time.
And already we become intravenously fed DLC patches to unanswered questions and musings conjured by The Last Jedi and the resurrection of Palpatine. Snoke was a clone fearfully made by Palpatine’s own shadowed hand, ruling from behind the curtain all this time. Our guess is Emperor’s already feeble body was too delicate for the cloning/transferring process, but at this point who cares. the fact the end of a trilogy brings more questions than answers is a slight judgment in and of to itself.
Ren, however, decides not to do away with the spokesperson of the Dark Force because Palpatine offers to upgrade Ren’s First Order to the Final Order – an endless fleet of Destroyers mounted with planet-ending weapons.
Meanwhile, the Resistance gets wind of this ghost fleet via a precarious Rogue One-esque data transfer and Rey, Finn and Poe go on a mission to discover where the fleet of the Final Order is to destroy them before they can land a devastating blow to the Resistance. Meanwhile, the burning question of who Rey’s parents gets answered conclusively, and while we ultimately do not care about them, her grandpops is certainly upper echelon in the ways of the force. And it ain’t Obi-Wan.
Explain me the new Force
It happened. Healing with the force. This and other unique, time-space jumping may have spoke more to the editors’ prowess and the smoke-and-mirrors technique of Lucasfilm storytelling than to anything particularly compelling or expansive to the Star Wars’ mythos. However, it’s always the explaining that will always seem clumsy and forced. Now listen to my explaining why.
Great Rey, the healing trick used some of your life force. Thanks for explaining. Hey Palpatine, you are draining the terrible twins like a double-A battery to rejuvenate your youthful looks like the foreskins of Chinese babies in facial cream. Gotchya. But please, tell us in detail how awesome this new find is.
New force powers aside, was there any need other than a narrative sleight of hand? It was never a particularly ‘wow’ moment, so piling on new powers felt like a last-minute rush to reach a matrimonial trifecta of old (nostalgia), blue (LUTs and Rey’s lightsaber) and something new.
And they chose as many moments as possible to show the healing powers of the force as much as possible. Ever heard a big snake moan? And the ultimate selfless sacrifice of Ren trying his hand at the healing force. He obviously had to use more to bring her from the brink of death, at the cost of his own life.
This has to be one of the more disparaging character developments we’ve seen in a Star Wars movie. And yes, even rivaling Star Wars long-standing love affair with the incestuous. As if taking hints from a disturbing Tumblr thread of hentai-esque artwork of Rey and Kylo sucking each others’ faces off (#KyloRen), they decided to make Kylo Ren and Rey kiss in the end.
My hope is that whoever is reading this, if they have some connection to the movie’s narrative or creation, that was about the shittiest moment ever viewed on screen. It was so bad, there was an audible, synchronised scoff in the cinema when it happened. And that says a lot. Aside from ill-timed, prolonged laughter at a weak joke, British audiences are usually reserved.
Kylo Ren and Rey’s relationship was an intense one, granted. However, their type of relationship has been skewed into a romantic one. Despite a more brother-sister/plutonic bond fits the bill better. Learn to read the room, guys.
It all just gives a very limited outlook and understanding of the multi-faceted spectrum that is human connections. The only conclusion from all this has to be: stop reading Tumblr feeds and taking poorly drawn anime erotica Star Wars art as fan feedback.
An Emperor without subject
Emperor Palpatine is back. Back like he never left. You already know my stance on the Soap Operatic ploy of resurrecting dead characters. A tell-tale sign of creators scrapping the bottom of the ideas bucket. But we remained optimistic. Palpatine is Star Wars Darkside staple, after all.
However, it would seem his re-emergence does not have the same foresight as villains of beloved trilogies; no sense of foreboding or specific hints at Emperor Palpatine being alive. This leads me to believe his return was more of a late addition in pandering to fans’ nostalgic sensibilities. There is no explanation for his resurfacing. Nor would it help.
What is irksome, however, is that the creators must have known no one would see this as anything but a ploy. I can assure you if The Last Jedi was received differently, we most certainly would not have had a Palpatine.
Potentials and Credentials
With the Skywalker saga coming to a close, we have to take stock of the arc and trajectory of the main trio of friends that had been united by the Force – Rey, Finn and Poe. We also have to take into consideration Kylo Ren’s legacy and the point of Snoke. If your wholistic conclusion to any of these characters is growth, I would have to bring to you a strong challenge.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is but a sum of its parts in relationship to the trilogy and as such its perceived flaws inevitably carry over from its predecessors. For the past two films, the revolving door of creators and directors at Lucasfilm and Disney could not decide whether Finn was a milksop or a man that went against the grain when his friend needed him the most. A sad state and a missed opportunity. The final film showed the Finn character coming into his own, which ultimately made us feel Star Wars: The Last Jedi was being treated as a skip and a misstep, something in the same vein as how Terminator: Dark Fate disregarded all the other Terminator films post-Judgement Day. The thing with retconning is whatever you are trying to make us forget should not be engrained in our memory as fresh as 2 years ago.
Poe was, well, as uneventful as one would not expect from a firebrand upstart that went from disobeying orders from authority to… inheriting authority and pussying out in wanting to share the responsibility of leadership and any resulting failure spurred by it. Just how I read it, anyway. Maybe it is because I am a loner *shrugs*. Frankly, however, Poe has the greatest potential for spinoff/offshoot series.
And Kylo Ren? The force was indubitably weak on the Darkside. It’s fair when the bad guy’s motivations and directions seem muddled. Firstly, Kylo Ren is presented to us as a petulant man-child who wants to be Vader. Then he wants to do away with the past and kill everything the connects him to it. To now conflicted-turned-good champion. A swift turnaround prompted by *feeling* the death of his parent Momma Leia. Not the actual death of a parent by his own hand. Patricide is easy. As you can probably could tell by how poppa Solo bit the stardust in The Force Awakens.
And when you consider the hype built around the Knights of Ren to what we got, it feels much of the lore behind the new generation of Star Wars characters is ill-got. Lurking in the shadows, doing much of nothing like a ‘murder’ of galactic crow-like goths.
But hey, Boba Fett was not exactly graceful in his debut, but now his lore stands greatly revered. Things can change. However as it stands right now, the trio’s legacy lacks the luster and brightness of a young Luke or an Obi-Wan or a Darth Vader.
The Rey Delusion
Star Wars‘ latest trilogy bout has always felt like a slight rush to a new plateau. A select part of me cannot out to what exactly. Could it be hastily creating a link to the old, before rinse and recycle to a younger, franchise-friendly cast? And as such what has suffered the most is character development. And I mean every main character. The most being Rey, understandably as she is the lead, she deserves the most attention. Her development as a character and as a Jedi has been one of the most stunted arcs I have witnessed in a while. And while I do not like to throw around the Mary Sue label, there is an argument for it.
When we first see Rey, she is a meditating yogi, a nucleus in a revolving field of stone and debris. This was not a beholding moment. Not even in the slightest. It would not have garnered any bewildering effect even if it happened at the end of The Force Awakens. Rey was and has always been powerful. As a result, there is no sense of any true dread or risk of failure. In The Rise Of Skywalker, Rey shows no development in the ways of the Force other than, well, trying to hear the voices of dead Jedi. That (and healing) was the last and only hurdle that they could think up for her.
Again, to present Rey as if she was battling some dark impulses has been a cheap diversion given to us since The Last Jedi and is, at its core, untrue to her very nature as a character. More smoke and mirrors.
And while we have to respect her tutelage and blood course with the finest of caliber Jedi, you have to consider the enemy she faces in Emperor Palpatine. The dankest, lowest, most powerful epitome of the Darkside. The one that gave Darth Vader, and the mightiest of Jedi a run for their money. For someone of the Light like Rey to enter Palpatine’s domain, see thousands of Sith chanting hideous forbidden mantras… she would certainly have felt smothered by the putridness of it.
For Palpatine, as powerful as he is, his stature commanded his takedown be done by a tag-team. Snoke himself was taken out by the duo. So how can someone more powerful be undone by one alone. Oh, I get it. With two lightsabers. Alas, making an enemy look terrifying when immobile would be a tough gig, and would certainly involve rethinking what powers and safeguards Palpatine would have in his arsenal.
And to top things off, can we just say we still have not been able to get a furiously-epic lightsaber fight since Obi-Wan took on Anakin on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith. Which kinda makes me sad.
Let’s not beat around the proverbial bush. Between what The Last Jedi and The Rise Of Skywalker is the perfect Star Wars film. The former strayed too far, the latter felt more like safe, fan-service. And not for nothing, I felt like I was seeing something for the first time with The Last Jedi over The Rise Of Skywalker. Whether it be the characters, the enthralling milieu of panoramic vistas or the feeling of true discovery. However, here we have Palpatine, the baddest of the bad who we thought was dead suddenly resurges and the general feeling was, “ah, so, apparently, he is not dead”.
Now let us take a moment to observe that The Rise Of Skywalker is part of a trilogy run of a Disney-governed Star Wars franchise. On second thought, I honestly do not see the point in critiquing that either. Which leads us to wonder if Disney should even be allowed to head up a trilogy. Because we should now also assess Disney’s run of the Star Wars franchise. And it has not been a good one. A few hits and moments with The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and even The Last Jedi. However, the blows that did most of the crippling brought way to much tarnish that The Rise Of Skywalker had to overcome. A valiant effort to do this would have gotten praise. But JJ Abrams chose to colour within the lines, with centimeters worth of gap to spare.
This leads to more concerns for the future of the franchise when Star Wars head honcho Kathleen Kennedy makes mention of a diversion from the Star Wars trilogy in the future to a more long-flowing form of branching narratives. Alas, we all see people eyeing the gamma ‘greener’ grass over at Marvel Studios, but the last thing cinema needs a run-on sentence of movies with no oversight and no logically-perceived end. As in life, nothing lasts forever. So one should strategically end it on terms you control (a beautifully crafted trilogy or a finite number of connected films). The alternative is nature, dwindling interest and loathing will do the ending for you.
And this review seems unfair, I get it. It sadly is the capstone and ultimate victim of a Disney-run Star Wars trilogy that started of rocky and went askew from there. And I don’t agree that Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker played it safe. The Force Awakens played it safe. This movie played itself. The same trio we met in The Force Awakens have not undergone any noteworthy transformations. So the embrace we get at the end of the film is not as heartwarming as it could have been if we felt the characters had been through personal, emotional and physical hell.
It’s not all bad. The moments I felt that really delivered. Moments for pause, reflection, and emotive gravitas. The characters were right. The narratives have either pandered too much to fickle fandom or strayed too far from the source. This is partly why The Rise of Skywalker stalled straight out the gate. However instead of ending strong, much of what we got was a heavier lean into nostalgia, this time not just restoring the feeling, but the physical resurrection of things long thought dead. And whatever we saw that was ‘new’ was not exactly impactful, unique or lasting. And the twists. Bah. Rey was more interesting when her parents were nobodies. And if destiny is in a name, she literally branded herself by taking the name Skywalker. I personally think her character deserved independence from the past and the right to forge a new path within the Force.
Some characters deserved tho have their narrative arcs fleshed out more. Others deserved to have their pivots and turning points rationed out better. While others should have been cut altogether. I will let you come to your own conclusions as to who is which.
The movie felt like an “okay, let’s just wrap this up”. Nevertheless, the worse trilogy from Disney to date surely still is Guardians of the Galaxy. Thought I would just fit that in there. And, ironically, the ‘Baby Groot’ technique employed in giving us The Mandalorian‘s Baby Yoda and The Rise Of Skywalkers‘ Babu Frik is getting very tired.
- Limited, but interesting set pieces
- The trio do have good chemistry on screen
- Leia being called Master
- Potential of Rey, Finn and Poe character arcs fall short
- Palpatine resurgence hurt more than helped
- Can we ban all deepfake until the tech gets extremely good?
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