If you’ve been following my movie reviews at One News Page for a while now, you’ll know that I’ve already reviewed the latest Star Wars movies to various degrees of entertainment. None of them – thus far – have been terrible, however, Solo proved to many that life was beginning to drain from the franchise. What surprised me even further was that The Last Jedi became so-reviled – it definitely has problems as a movie, but for sheer entertainment, it did more than enough for me – at the time, anyway.
Since then, the latest trilogy has been brought to a close with The Rise of Skywalker. This time around, Rey (Ridley) and her band of rebels discover that Emperor Palpatine (McDiarmid), the original mastermind behind the Dark Side thought to have perished years ago, is somehow still out there. Kylo Ren (Driver) seeks to consolidate his power as the righteous leader of the New Order, and for that reason, he sees Palpatine as a threat. However, Palpatine holds a secret about Rey that threatens the future of the galaxy – how will things transpire?
Well… they just ‘do’. The Rise of Skywalker is a well-made movie with incredible visual appeal, all the space battles you’ll ever need, and a once-again brilliant score from John Williams. It is disappointing, however, that after all these years, it is largely the music of Star Wars that makes the movies so enduring.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Lucasfilm / Walt Disney Studios)
Skywalker has many problems. The old adage is, of course, that you can never please a Star Wars fan. However, I find it difficult to believe that all moviegoers would find this as appealing as Mr Abrams wants it to be.
My main issue with Skywalker – conversely to its predecessors – is that it’s a foregone conclusion. It really struggles to do anything major, or anything particularly startling. Revelations regarding Rey are – no spoilers – pretty predictable. The driving plot is this balance between Rey and Ren, and frankly, by this point, it feels rather hollow. The script, the pacing and the performances rather make me feel as though we are marching towards a conclusion purely for the sake of fulfilling a contract. Yes – there are plenty of bits and pieces which call back to old movies – but my main issue with Skywalker is that it is relentlessly convenient.
Yes – Last Jedi had these moments. Looking back, the moments of convenience – and those which were really lazy – really shouldn’t have made it off the cutting room floor. However, Skywalker has more of these in spades. I won’t spoil anything, but there are huge chunks of plot which shift around and muddle about as a result of pure convenience. Hours of plot are wasted chasing one thing, or one element, when they really needn’t have bothered.
I was left with the impression that we got a script that felt like it ‘needed’ to end things, not that it ‘wanted’ to. There are barely any challenges beyond those used for shock value. By the second act, I was looking at the time, agog that there was almost an hour plus left to go. This is not how I envisaged a Star Wars movie.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Official Trailer (Lucasfilm / Walt Disney Studios)
The script seems to propel itself forward to cover as much as possible, or at least to try and cater for Last Jedi’s mistakes. Then, however, it creates multiple of its own. There were genuine moments where people in my cinema laughed at action sequences or moments of attempted pathos. I, too, found myself laughing at parts where I really shouldn’t have been.
I really tried to like Rise of Skywalker. For Star Wars fans, it’s likely to be a mixed bag. Last Jedi split fans right down the middle, which means that the last episode was always going to be a fight to reclaim those fans. However, Skywalker does things so haphazardly, without focus, that it’s pretty underwhelming. Instead of blasting the franchise out into a blaze of glory and intrigue, it limps along and fizzles out. That, for Star Wars, is nothing short of being incredibly disappointing.
As a movie on its own, it’s passable. It’s entertaining in so much as that the set pieces look good, the acting is fine, the score is great – but apart from that, it’s just boring. That’s a real shame – and something I really didn’t ever want to say about this franchise.
With that, and Disney rightfully appear to be doing apart from TV adaptations, Star Wars needs to go away and have a nice, long nap, for a while, until new life can re-energise how stale the brand has become.