Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019)

The following review contains spoilers. Hence, why it is my longest review ever.

"Sigh" The emotions swirling in my head once I finish watching this film back in December 2019 were so strong, but I decided to wait before I wrote a review so I could sit on what I watched, and frankly, the longer I thought about what I watched, the more I disliked this film. It is the worst Star Wars film in the saga. That title used to belong to Attack Of The Clones for me, but as this film served as an ending, its failures have a more profound effect. Of course, this week, I rewatched it as I can't write a film based on a memory from 4 months ago, but it didn't improve anything.

Just to be clear, this isn't me jumping on the bandwagon. I enjoyed the last two films. I was so excited to see how this trilogy ended.

The story follows Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron as they lead the Resistance's final stand against Kylo Ren and the First Order, who are now aided by the return of the deceased galactic emperor, Palpatine. To stop them, the trio, along with C3PO, BB8, and Chewbacca set out to find an item(The name I forget), which will lead them to something or other. Honestly, it doesn't matter.

Going on a journey to find the one item that can save the day has been done before in film, but this film undoes it by the end of the second act, rendering the entire journey pointless. Speaking of pointless, why bother watching the previous films in the trilogy? This one spends almost its entire running time retconning its predecessor and adding painfully conventional 'plot twists' and patronizing reversals in the name of appealing the fans who didn't like the risks that Rian Johnson took.

The action sequences are snoozes. The battle between Rey and Kylo Ren that was teased in the trailers wasn't very engaging. There was no tension or sense of danger. The set pieces weren't that exciting, perhaps except for the opening chase with the Falcon, making those constant hyperspace jumps. Its attempts at humor fell flat. They were cringy and awkward.

Given that this is a film with a massive ensemble, you would think it would be a film with even screentime, but nope. Rey's story, which is Luke's story in the original trilogy, but a woman this time is quite frankly, boring, and it takes the majority of the run time. The whole mystery of her parents never excited me. John Boyaga's Finn was so important to me. A black man, a Nigerian no less who was chosen to be the main lead back in The Force Awakens made me feel seen. A reformed stormtrooper was an angle that excited me, but his story was wasted, being so thirsty for Rey the whole time. The fact that he was force sensitive isn't explored or used creatively. Rose, a major character in the last film barely registers here. She only has a minute of screen time. I guess if enough racist people criticize someone, the filmmakers will listen to them.

The relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey was a highlight in The Last Jedi. The force connection lead to great character drama, but by the end of The Last Jedi, Rey shut him out. Yet in this one, they are still connected. Kylo then, despite killing Han Solo and committing several other acts of evil is then redeemed when he helps Rey stop Palpatine, despite working with Palpatine in the first two acts. Then, after some bringing people back to life force nonsense, the two kiss. Then Kylo dies. What the hell?

The two had tried to kill each other several times. It made no sense. And, if you read the extra Star Wars material, you discover that it was a kiss of gratitude. This film doesn't want to satisfy anyone, does it? Honestly, when Rey takes the Skywalker name by the end of it, it's like she forgot that Kylo Ren was the last Skywalker, and by putting herself in this family, as you do, she kissed a relative. But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.

The use of Carrie Fisher is this film, frankly, came off as creepy and disrespectful to me, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe some found it to be a sweet tribute, with her getting top billing and being present for the whole trilogy, but when she is on screen, I was constantly reminded that she was no longer with us, and the actors are playing off nothing. The scenes with her and other people came off as awkward and unnatural.

John Williams can't save this. As usual, his music was great, yet it didn't elevate what was happening on screen. The visual effects were top-notch as usual, but nothing special. Fan service done right can be very engaging, such as in Avengers: Endgame, but here, it is slapped on and serves no purpose. For example, Maz Kanata, who is a puppet in this film despite being a CGI character in the previous films (continuity at its best) gives Chewbacca the medal that he was denied in A New Hope. The moment is slapped on and is set to please the older fans, but I couldn't help but think that Maz stole that off of a dead woman.

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker disappointingly ends its sequel trilogy with a whimper, leaving the overall skywalker saga with several promises broken or unfulfilled.


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