‘Star Wars: The Rise of Mediocrity’ Our Spoiler-Filled Review of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opened this weekend to the tune of $176 million domestic box office dollars. But is it good? Let me put it this way: before I saw the film I saw a video someone recorded of the last scene and the whole theater was booing as the credits started, and they were right to. I’m just glad we’ve decided that it’s only the last terrible Star Wars movie that you get labeled a Nazi for not liking it and not this one. I don’t need to go through that again.

The Rise of Skywalker starts with a crawl that informs you that Emperor Palpatine is alive and sending out broadcasts: if you want to know how this happened, you should have played Fortnite during a specific ten-minute window last week. Seriously. The the action picks up  in media res with Kylo Ren hacking down a bunch of dudes for a reason that’s never explained in a location that’s never revealed to pick  up some kind of triangle.

The information that this is Mustafar, the volcanic planet where Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi had their fateful duel at the end of Revenge of the Sith, is hidden in the companion book titled Star Wars:The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary. This is a big problem with this movie, a bunch of things you need to know for certain scenes to make any kind of sense are buried in this thing.

Kylo uses this Sith Wayfinder to find Palpatine, who reveals he has a massive fleet of Star Destoyers and also that he a bunch of back-up copies of Supreme Leader Snoke, who was just a puppet Palpatine used to manipulate Kylo. All of which begs the question “Why the hell would you even do that?” It’s never really explained why Palpatine, who somehow survived Vader throwing him down a very conveniently-placed reactor shaft in Return of the Jedi (something that’s also never explained), needs to hide behind Snoke and stay hidden on Exegol building Star Destroyers for 31 years.

After this we move on to a set piece with Finn, Poe and Chewbacca, which brings me to the next problem with this movie: it just sort of moves from one set piece to the next without ever feeling like a coherent narrative. This one ends with the Millennium Falcon crew returning to base and bickering with Rey, who has been training to be a Jedi under Leia; you know, like she should have done with Luke in the last movie but he was too busy sulking and sucking on weird alien titties.

Reunited with Rey, the Falcon crew sets out on the first of many fetch quests that comprise basically the entirety of this movie. Go to a place, get a thing, have an action scene, repeat. This one has a chase scene that ends with the heroes falling into quicksand. Yeah, quicksand. While they’re getting sucked into it, Finn says he has something important to tell Rey, but immediately forgets about it when they’re safe.

After watching Rey use The Force to heal a serpent and collecting the McGuffin the desert planet go to the planet where Poe’s heterosexual and non-interracial love interest lives to get another McGuffin, in this case a hacker who can jailbreak C-3PO to find the next McGuffin, even though it’ll void his warranty.

There’s a side quest here to rescue Chewbacca from one of those Star Destroyers which plays out a lot like a condensed version of the original Star Wars. In addition to plot points you have to read coffee table books and play unrelated video games to understand, The Rise of Skywalker is full of nostalgia bombs like this where the film chooses to do something that reminds you of a Star Wars film that was actually good instead of something that would make this film good.

So the next McGuffin the Falcon crew is looking for is in the wreckage of the second Death Star that Lando Calrissian blew up in Jedi. See what I mean about the nostalgia bombs? I don’t even think space works this way; the Death Star wasn’t inside the gravity well of a planet when it exploded so I’m pretty sure it would have just floated where it was or careened through space at a constant speed from the explosion until it impacted something, which is going to be more “comet that killed the dinosaurs” and less “let’s meet Finn’s heterosexual and non-interracial love interest while picking up a tiny, delicate thing from the wreckage.”

Some people will be disappointed that Finn and Poe were implied to end up with their new love interests and not each other; the Finn and Poe shippers were the second largest group of shippers for these films and were far, far less annoying than the Ren and Kylo shippers. I think the reason so many people wanted to see Poe and Finn together is that they’re the only characters in these films with any sort of on-screen chemistry at all; everyone else seems to tolerate each other’s existence at best. Finn teasing Poe about being a spice runner, the Star Wars code word for drug runner and also what Han Solo was up to before Luke and Ben hired him, is basically the only time anyone comes off as charming or fun. That’s not great considering all Marvel-style quips the characters let off.

And if you’re wondering where Rose Tico is in all of this, they asked her to come along but she elected to stay behind and get Princess Leia coffee.

At the victory celebration, we see two women kiss for a literal second, thus making all gay people in the world feel completely represented

In the process of collecting the last McGuffin needed to find Emperor Palpatine, who she just found out is her grandfather, and save the galaxy from him once and for all, Rey has a vision of herself falling to the dark side and so decides to take Kylo Ren’s ship back to Ahch-To and be a hermit drinking blue alien booby juice. As she throws Anakin’s blue lightsaber into the fire she set to destroy Kylo’s TIE fighter, Luke’s force ghost catches it and tells her “A Jedi’s weapon deserves more respect,” just in case you were under the illusion that anyone involved her liked what Rian Johnson did in The Last Jedi.

Luke gives Rey a pep talk and his old X-Wing so that she can go and kill Palpatine. Oh, and he gives her Leia’s lightsaber as well, in case she needs a spare. As it turns out, she does, because at the climax when Palpatine tries to kill her with his Force Lightning, she blocks it with a single Lightsaber and is about to die but pulling out a second lightsaber to block it with causes Palpatine to instantly explode as if all along his weakness was simply holding a second lightsaber.

At the victory celebration, we see two women kiss for a literal second, thus making all gay people in the world feel completely represented. Except in the Middle East where the happy lesbians were removed. Also, poor Finn never tells Rey whatever it was he wanted to tell her in the first act, and on top of that Lando, the sole survivor of the original cast, offers to take his new girlfriend on an adventure to find her father. Of course, if you read that Visual Dictionary, Lando is her dad. I hope he realizes that, because the movie makes absolutely no indication that this may be the case.

That’s the whole story of The Rise of Skywalker; the Falcon crew goes from one McGuffin to the next until the movie is over and you never get told enough of the plot for anything that happens to feel particularly important. It’s not actively bad like The Last Jedi or The Phantom Menace, and the action scenes are pretty good, but it just feels hollow, like it was only made because Disney needed a Q4 four-quadrant film on the schedule. Which is exactly what happened. Star Wars was George Lucas’s passion project, something he poured his whole self into and beat the odds to be a success; The Rise of Skywalker was made by committee at Disney to make shareholders happy, and it shows.

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2 years ago

Loved it. Did a good job of overcoming the giant s**t Rian Johnson took on Star Wars characters and lore in the previous film. It actually respected the mythology and lore of the franchise. And even better, it was fun. Did it have plot issues? Sure. Name a Star Wars movie that hasn’t. But it hit the rights notes on what a Star Wars movie should be. So it was the best of the new trilogy, and maybe best since ESB or ROtS.

I rate as follows: 4,5,9,6,3,7,8,1,2

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