Friday, December 20, 2019

A Review of "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker" AKA #NotMySkywalker

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker Review
MASSIVE MASSIVE SPOILERS LAY AHEAD OF THIS REVIEW. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW...DON'T READ. COME BACK WHEN YOU DO! THIS IS YOUR FIRST AND ONLY WARNING. SPOILERS SPOILERS

Now that this third trilogy of "Star Wars" movies, has come and gone. Now that we've seen some other Star Wars media made by Disney. I have to be honest, I don't think any revisit to the Skywalker Saga was really needed. Disney has proven that they can tell stories in this fictional galaxy apart from the Skywalker Saga and make them just as compelling and just as entertaining. I guess the need to make money off nostalgia was just too enticing I suppose. 

To really discuss how "Rise of Skywalker" lives, breaths, and fails, we are going to have to get into spoiler territory. We absolutely have to, the film's misgivings are embedded in the storyline and I need to get really real as to what happened here. 

After the typical opening scroll we see Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) killing some random aliens before making his way to a dark planet and meets Emperor Palpatine. He's still played by Ian McDiarmid, which is nice and about the only nice thing I can say about it. It's THE Emperor Palpatine. How is he alive, you may ask? I am not really sure, he gives some vague lip service and homages one of his own speeches from "Revenge of the Sith," but an explanation for how he is alive is never given. How an old man survived a hundred upon hundreds of feet fall is anybody's guess. But hey, in "The Last Jedi," Leia survives being stuck in outer space. Apparently, death is a very liquid idea as long as you are a force user. Palpatine also explains that he created Supreme Leader Snoke. Again, how he did this isn't touched upon. We as the audience just have to know that the Dark Side of the Force gives you random crazy powers out of convenience. He orders Kylo to track and kill Rey as he reveals a fleet of Star Destroyers.

The new trilogy has gone under lots of heat because each film is basically a remake of the Old Trilogy. Even though I did enjoy "The Force Awakens" and still stand by my positive review I wrote in 2015, but I do acknowledge that it is basically a remake of "A New Hope." In "The Last Jedi," there are elements of "Empire Strikes Back" as well as a dash or two of "Return of the Jedi." The next logical step is to think "Rise of Skywalker" is completely original, right? Nope. Like I said, Palpatine is back. His fleet of Star Destroyers have weapons so powerful, they can destroy entire planets. And the movie ends with Palpatine fighting Rey, as good a Jedi as ever and a reformed Kylo Ren. Because of course Kylo Ren was going to redeem himself, right? Even the Ewoks make a come-back in this movie!

The finger pointing for why "Rise of Skywalker" is such a turd can start anywhere. But I am not confident enough to put this all on J.J. Abrams. I kind of wish we got a full trilogy where he was directing all of the movies. He made "The Force Awakens," got things started, then left. The plan was each film in this new trilogy would be made by a different director. The problem was Rian Johnson came along, burned down everything Abrams established and told his own narrative. Except it was angsty, "edgy," emo and depressing. Like a troubled teen made a "Star Wars" movie. Colin Trevorrow was set to make Episode Nine, but left for unknown reasons, opening the door for Abrams to come back in. Telling from "Rise of Skywalker," it feels like Abrams crammed all the ideas he had for a movie into this one movie. There's new characters. There's old characters. There a bunch of different doodads our heroes are looking for. There's a Chewbacca rescue mission. There's more training for Rey. It's all convoluted, disjointed and feels out-of-place.

Did I mention the big reveal yet? Because there is also plenty of retconning going on in this movie. Remember how Kylo told Rey in "The Last Jedi" that she was a nobody. Well, apparently that isn't true. Eventually Rey has a showdown with Palpatine and he drops a bomb. Palpatine is Rey grandfather! Yep, you read that right, Rey is related to Palpatine. And this one seemingly abysmal detail almost makes never want to watch another "Star Wars" movie ever. Why you ask? It completely hobbles the rest of the movies. The prequels. The Old Trilogy. All of it. Why does Palpatine go through so much trouble to turn Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side in the prequels if he has a son running around? Imagine how much easier it would have been for him to conquer the galaxy using his own family. Sure, you can bring up the prophecy, but that was a lie created for the Sith. You can't tell me Palpatine couldn't manipulate his own son, that motherfucker manipulated everybody. Anakin, Padme, Jar Jar, an entire fucking Senate. You really don't think he could have manipulated his own son? Because of his family and because he's apparently omnipresent, it renders Anakin and Luke's journey's meaningless. That's worse than any sin Rian Johnson committed in "The Last Jedi."

Honestly, it seems odd to really call this The Skywalker Saga, it's really the Palpatine Saga at this point. That doesn't have the same ring though.

Rey comes by all this information by Kylo, since they're both related to the two biggest Sith Lords, they have some Force connection. So they know where each other is at all times. Kylo at first wants Rey to join him to rule the Empire. But Rey then turns Kylo good, after a lightsaber duel of course. That Rey wins of course. I have to say, Kylo Ren is the shittiest Sith Lord in this whole series. Who loses three times to a person who has had, minimal at best, Jedi training? General Grevious could mop the floor with Kylo Ren.

The final battle with the DEATH STAR STAR DESTROYERS  is fairly anti-climatic. The Rey/Kylo versus Palpatine is pretty anti-climatic too. Also laughable too. See, another dark side power Palpatine can just pull out of his ass for plot convenience is the ability to drain life from others in order replenish his. Which I guess isn't that stupid. Earlier in the movie, Rey kills Kylo then heals him, which makes you wonder why Luke didn't just save his father after "Return of the Jedi." There are so many new Force powers introduced in this movie that its head-spinning and ultimately comes off like a story that is just making up things as it goes along in order to try to remain provocative. The Palpatine-Kylo-Rey fight as so much life drainage, healing and bringing back from the dead going on that it comes off too stupid by the end. There is a strange scene where Rey is harnessing the power of all the Jedi that came before her while they whisper to her. Keep an ear out for Liam Neeson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ewen McGregor, Hayden Christensen and even Freddie Prinze Jr reprising his role from "Star Wars: Rebels." I know its supposed to be an emotional sucker-punch but it ends up being what it truly is...fan service for fan service sake.

Also, Rey and Kylo Ren kiss! Even though due to their development as characters throughout this series, that makes no sense!

Also, we finally meet the Knights of Ren! Just like Boba Fett, Darth Maul, General Grevious and Captain Phasma, they are totally wasted as villains and leave like a fart in the wind!

Also, General Hux is a spy! Instead of that leading anywhere compelling, he is killed!

Let me calm down a bit. Maybe, just maybe there could have been a great "Star Wars" movie with a resurrected Palpatine and so many new Force powers that will give you headache. The problem is there is enough story, ideas and scenarios in this one movie that needed not just one trilogy but multiple trilogies. J.J. Abrams wanted to let loose with his own ideas. He was also doing damage control and it simply got out of his hands. Each movie in this new trilogy feels like its separate fan fiction.

You all are probably sick of this comparison, but when you look at what Kevin Feige has done with Marvel, all of his movies connect. He makes them connect. He makes sure every movie that gets made in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is another piece of the puzzle that he is selling. He still gives his artists creative freedom, just as long as it holds up on the story he's telling. The actors, directors, writers and producers he works with all understand this, and the series makes sense. Its like a bunch of kids going to a friends house to play with his action figures. You can bring your imagination to the game, but at the end of the day, they are the other kids action figures. The new "Star Wars" trilogy seems like a bunch of kids go to daycare and play with the classroom toys. There is no structure and no belonging to the play, so everybody just does their own thing. (Say what you want about George Lucas and his prequels. But one thing those had going for them was a straight line. They had a beginning. A middle. An end.)

After two hours. After Kylo Ren is dead. After Palpatine is dead (?) Rey goes to the planet of Tatooine. She knows her family history but she still remains a good character. A woman asks her what her name is. Guess what she says?

I am Rey Skywalker.

Umm. What? No, you're not. Of all the names you could have chosen to conceal your true identity, you land on Skywalker? I guess I get why she did it, but because she's not a true Skywalker, the emotional impact falls overwhelmingly flat. It's a dumb scene and an idiotic last line. Which is why I present the hashtag #NotMySkywalker.

Hey, at least "The Mandalorian" has been awesome on Disney+, right? "Star Wars" will for sure have a future. But the Skywalker Palpatine Saga ended in my mind at "Return of the Jedi." Much like Star Wars' own Legacy Universe, this is all just a fanfiction that I refuse to accept now. 

FINAL GRADE: D+ 

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