By Ryan Keating-Lambert
The Rise of Skywalker is a messy and unsatisfying conclusion that conveniently changes lore established in the previous chapter The Last Jedi and replaces them with frustrating plot twists, regurgitated fan service and some of the most half-assed writing in the history of the saga.
Directed by J.J. Abrams (The Force Awakens), The Rise of Skywalker follows young Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley) and her friends as they attempt to bring the insidious First Order to an end. But in the farthest depths of the galaxy, an ancient evil is stirring, and both Rey and her nemesis Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) must make a difficult choice…
For the record, I liked The Last Jedi. Although long-winded and having one too many mediocre characters and sub-plots to tie up, it gave the new trilogy what The Force Awakens didn’t… originality. The Rey/Kylo Ren dynamic was wonderful to watch play out and director Rian Johnson wasn’t afraid to change things up a bit concerning the lore surrounding the Jedi and the force itself. It didn’t work for everyone, but it worked for me.
A lot of those findings have now conveniently been swept under the rug and shoddily replaced by nostalgia and visits to familiar stomping grounds in order to reel those hardcore fans back in – most of them hated Johnson’s film.
There are multiple twists and turns throughout and majority are either foreseeable or just plain unsatisfying. The most frustrating being sudden last-minute changes to Rey’s origin story. What felt like both a satisfying and original take on it in The Last Jedi has now become utterly ridiculous and convoluted. Why? To please obnoxious fans of course… you know who you are.
As Rey and her friends slowly begin to unravel the mystery and the whereabouts of the Sith, new relationships are formed. Finn (John Boyega) develops a crush that seems way out of left field considering the character’s loyalties lied elsewhere in the previous films (I always thought that he would secretly hook up with pilot Poe, played by Oscar Isaac), but I suppose that’s still a bit too out there for Disney. A few new crew members are picked up along the journey… and the most interesting of them is a droid that looks like a ’70s desk lamp.
Ye olde faithful characters like Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is there again and like the previous two chapters she has next to nothing to do, but that could be due to the tragic departure of the actress two years ago – they give her a bittersweet sendoff, even if it’s a little brief and doesn’t seem particularly well thought out.
Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) also has a brief appearance. And then of course, there’s the much-anticipated return of the Emperor, which despite Ian McDiarmid more than comfortably slipping back into those robes, the character has since become so laughably over-the-top evil that he’s now… well, an animated Disney villain.
Johnson pushed the boundaries of what the force could do in the last film and although the flying Leia thing was a bit much, I more or less bought the rest of it. The Rise of Skywalker brings so much new lore and power to the force that it’s absurd and even laughable at times, especially in the finale.
Rey and Kylo continue to have a little thing here but none of it as interesting or as tense as The Last Jedi, apart from an exciting showdown in the desert which you probably already saw most of in the trailer. Driver does deliver as Ren though (despite the hilarious duck mask) and will always be one of the trilogy’s most interesting characters.
Everyone gives it there all here but there’s always a feeling of doubt in the air. I’d be really curious to know what the cast thought about everything. You often get the feeling that they’re a bit frustrated.
There’s a very not-so-subtle line between fan service and originality and this new trilogy just can’t quite grasp that balance – ironical, considering that that is EXACTLY what the force is all about.
You’re going to see it anyway, so try to make the most of it. The visual effects and sound design certainly deliver, no surprises there, except for the unnecessary Pixar-like CGI which we already saw in Rogue One (facepalm). But yeah, that’s about it? Let me know your spoiler free thoughts.