The Rise of Skywalker Review: a sight to behold, a script to rewrite

Daisy Ridley is Rey and Adam Driver is Kylo Ren in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
Daisy Ridley is Rey and Adam Driver is Kylo Ren in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER /

While the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is undoubtedly a visual splendor, it suffers from a lack of coherence. Rather than feeling like a fitting end to the saga, Episode IX undoes much of its predecessor, making it instead feel like a rather confused film.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

With all the baggage loaded from Star Wars:The Last Jedi’s reception, it’s important to understand that it would be impossible for The Rise of Skywalker to satisfy everyone. There are those who vehemently hated The Last Jedi, dissatisfied by the reveals of Rey’s parentage, Snoke’s history and Luke’s cynicism. Others loathed the Marvel-esque humor and the alleged political messaging of film, most notably the Canto Bight subplot.

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Of course, with a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and an A in CinemaScore, it would be unreasonable to believe that a large sampling of audience members didn’t thoroughly enjoy The Last Jedi; perhaps they instead embraced the film’s deconstructionist message and emphasis on story and themes over in-universe consistency and groundbreaking reveals. The normal response, to this, of course, would be to write and direct a sequel made for the latter category, both to avoid needless retcons and to drive the story forward in the most organic fashion possible.

Unfortunately, The Rise of Skywalker seems to be borne out of an attempt to please the most ardent naysayers of its two predecessors, and consequently ends up alienating everyone else.

There are positive aspects of the film worth noting; it would be a dramatic understatement to say that the visual effects are grand and spectacular. I would actually say that this film is tied with Rogue One in terms of the Star Wars film with the greatest visual flair. The sweeping cinematography is fittingly magnificent for a film directed by J.J. Abrams.

Though armed to the teeth with deceptively good visuals, The Rise of Skywalker fuses the weakest elements and sharpest criticisms of each of Disney’s previous Star Wars outings into one solidly imperfect wreck.

Did the lazy retreading of familiar material irritate you in The Force Awakens? Was the shameless fan-service and poorly paced structure of Rogue One a problem for you? Did you feel that The Last Jedi ignored and undid the setups of its immediate predecessor?

Wait ’till you see The Rise of Skywalker.

The movie is also rushed, almost as if Abrams was hoping that the frenetic pacing and unnaturally fast-paced dialogue would allow this 142-minute film would simultaneously retcon the most important revelations of the previous film and deliver enough of his own story to fit two movies worth of material inside.

Action scenes abound once again, shot and paced with Abrams’ usual frenetic style and almost shaky camerawork. However, they feel a bit more obligatory and perfunctory, and, as Collider suggested in their initial spoiler-free review, none of them hold a candle to the Praetorian Guard fight in The Last Jedi (which, in and of itself, is nothing more than a pretty well-made scene where the main characters defeat the villain’s henchmen).

Palpatine’s return incensed me to no end, but at least Ian McDiarmid pulled out all stops to deliver a performance worthy of a far more well-written film.

Most of all, however, The Rise of Skywalker made me appreciate Rian Johnson’s nihilistic, postmodern take on a 40-year old franchise far more than I did initially. More than anything, The Rise of Skywalker deals a somber blow to the trilogy as a whole by indicating a lack of coherence. Snoke dies, and is promptly replaced by the Emperor by the next movie. Rey’s parents are nobodies, until they suddenly aren’t.

This is how the saga ends; not with a bang, but a whimper.

Next. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is imperfect, enjoyable and fun. dark

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has arrived in theaters.