Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Chris Terrio, J.J. Abrams
Starring: Adam Driver, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Domnhall Gleeson, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Lupita Nyong'o, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Richard E. Grant
A recurring theme of forgetting the past and learning from mistakes was prevalent throughout The Last Jedi. So what’s the best course of action to take when your previous adventure is about moving forward and looking to the future? Forget it happened and follow the same formula as The Force Awakens, with fan service overkill to boot. Despite doing enough to stand on its own, The Force Awakens was little more than a soft remake of Star Wars. Although it was an entertaining film, it has too many similarities to feel like a new Star Wars story. The Last Jedi did its best to wipe the slate clean, but clearly JJ Abrams wasn’t interested in capitalising on that. Instead, we are left with a very muddled, at times incoherent and self indulgent fan fiction, with a few interesting moments, but an overall baffling sci-fi movie that leaves a lot to be desired.
From the opening crawl it didn’t look too promising, and the first act was a series of cuts from character to character, with some of the most disjointed and unnatural dialogue this side of the prequels. Everything felt like it was in a rush to hurry back and address Rey’s lineage, which once again is thrust to the forefront of the story, and gets progressively worse as the film rolls on. If you thought Leia majestically force floating through the vacuum of space was cringeworthy (although I appear to be in the minority for liking that part), wait until you get stuck into Rey’s heritage. There were several facepalm moments, and after films of such quality like The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, it’s difficult not to stare in disbelief at what’s unfolding in front of you. These characters that have all gelled so well over the course of the previous films now seem to be snarky with each other and constantly bickering. Whether this is how it’s supposed to come across, or if they were going for a Guardians of the Galaxy dynamic is hard to tell, but if they were aiming for the latter, it has failed spectacularly. In fact, the script comes across like a series of internet fan theories stuck together. One can only imagine how poor the first few drafts of the script must have been if this was what they settled on.
The character development we’ve seen blossom over the previous films seems to have fallen by the wayside in favour of having the dialogue do nothing but lead us on to the next wild goose chase. Finn and Rose have practically had their relationship wiped from the record, with barely any contact between the two, with Rose herself being present for no other reason than being in the previous film, thus being obligated to be present for this one, which is a damn shame as she was one of the highlights of TLJ. Even the brilliantly vile General Hux is demoted to little more than an ambivalent bit part in favour of newer characters who appear to be relics from the original films. It’s common knowledge that Carrie Fisher’s scenes were used from deleted scenes or reconstituted ones, however the dialogue used doesn’t seem to fit in the script whatsoever, and there are times when it feels like Leia is having a completely different conversation to the rest of the cast. It’s incredibly disjointed and doesn’t flow in any way at all. Kylo Ren was one of the most interesting screen villains for sometime, and with such a tantalising ending in The Last Jedi, it was exciting to see where he’d go from there. Unfortunately it seems to be in the same direction as all of the other characters – nowhere. He seems to be used only as a reason for Rey to turn up, and it’s such a criminally underwhelming end to his arc.
Some of the creatures introduced and one or two of the characters are entertaining when they’re around (C3PO of all people?!), but overall don’t save what is generally a disaster of a film. They really fumbled the landing with this one, undoing all the brilliant work that preceded it. It’s completely devoid of any emotion. When some characters have pivotal moments, it’s always underwhelming. Where as previously you’d have at least shed a tear, it’s almost laughable how badly written these scenes are. You can’t help but put your head in your hands at the way these characters are treated. Even John Williams, who once again knocks it out of the park, can’t save these moments. It does have some plus points however, coming in the form of some beautiful locations, a few good set pieces, and the main cast managing to save what’s left of their characters with some solid performances from all involved. Adam Driver in particular gives his all in such a weak bow for his character. This film feels like the franchise has regressed 15 years. It’s easily the worst of the series since Attack of the Clones. You know a film’s bad when C3PO is one of the standout characters.