The Star Wars have finally ended thanks to a Star Treaty. The victor of is Solaris the Tyrant Sun. Behold our Star Wars Episode IX: The
Sky Of Risewalker Rise Of Skywalker collaboreview with The Wages of Cinema! It’s made of SPOILERS! ‘Tis a rare double critique weekend!
It was by no means perfect, but I enjoyed much of The Last Jedi. (How could it be a complete cinematic failure when the shots were in focus & sound audible?) JJ Abrams returns to direct the finale to this trilogy, which didn’t fill me with optimism since I was underwhelmed by The Force Awakens. (Colin Trevorrow, who was fired from directing, still has a writing credit.) Kathleen Kennedy couldn’t find anyone new to helm this?
If they’d had the Millennium Falcon blow up Kylo Ren & General Hux at the end, The Last Jedi would’ve felt like a satisfying conclusion to the First Order malarkey. Unfortunately Lucasfilm insisted that each batch of “Episode” movies has to be a trilogy. What’s worse it that this rolls back so much of the previous installment. I don’t know if Abrams personally disliked Rian Johnson’s choices or if he was ordered to do so to appease the whiners. The end product feels like a shambling afterthought rather than a worthwhile finale. Even The Rise of Skywalker is just a reiteration of The Force Awakens The Last Jedi instead of the sentence’s final clause. At least it looks pretty.
This may be the least emotionally invested I’ve ever been watching a Star Wars film. It’s just a bunch of stuff happening. Most of it wasn’t even outright bad, yet I was bored. Shouldn’t I feel more than disinterest on a visceral level? It’s retroactively making me appreciate The Force Awakens more.
Not only does it undo many wise choices from The Last Jedi, it also doesn’t commit to its own events. Who was the chimp that welds Kylo’s helmet together? It doesn’t matter since he quits wearing it (again) about halfway through. Rey’s fears of becoming a Sith starts to have weight once she accidentally destroys the ship Chewbacca was on. No, the Wookie was conveniently on another transport. C-3PO sacrifices his memory for the Resistance’s sake. Never mind, R2-D2 re-uploads a backup a couple scenes later. Rey mortally wounds Kylo before healing him. Kylo is committed to the Sith, but then he’s completely redeemed once he sees his ghost dad (not blue-tinted like a Force ghost though) after a near death experience. The
First Final Order destroys Kijimi & the new allies we just met! It’s okay because Zorii & Babu Frik escaped to help out in the finale. Palpatine fries all the rebel ships’ systems but then they’re fully functional again once he dies. Rey dies, but then Kylo resurrects her instantly. There is such minimal forward progression it’s Sisyphean.
Much of the movie feels like a fetch quest. Most of it revolves around a Klingon dagger. our heroes stumble upon. Not only was it used to slay Rey’s parents, the blade’s inscription also pinpoints the location of a Sith Transponder that directs to the secret Sith planet, Exegol. C-3PO’s programming prevents him from translating the knife aloud, which leads to him getting brain surgery by the adorable Babu Frik in another side quest. The knife says the Sith Transponder is in the second Death Star. (Luckily it wasn’t a knife directing them to the other Sith Transponder Kylo already nabbed.) It also has a little protractor arm that pops out of the quillion to perfectly align with its location in the wreckage. This MacGuffin D’k tahg is both absurdly convenient & absurdly convoluted.
I briefly perked up whenever Rey uses The Force. She’s more creative with it than previous Jedi. Not only does she have the raw power, she also wield it with finesse. (Or The Force flows through her with finesse depending upon how much agency you grant this noncorporeal energy.) Instead of sailing a skiff across treacherous waves to retrieve the Sith Transponder, why doesn’t Rey just telekinetically draw it to her on the shore?
The first big retcon is Emperor Palpatine is alive. He’s not a clone like in the Expanded Universe. Being thrown down the reactor core of a space station that exploded wasn’t lethal to him. Aside from missing some fingers, the ordeal has made him look more human than Dressellien. There’s no explanation of who hooked him up to a life support machine. As much as Ian McDiarmird is wonderfully sinister, the prequels already made me sick of Palpatine being responsible for everything bad in this universe. Quit overshadowing all the other villains!
Bringing back Palpatine this late in the game exemplifies how ill-planned this trilogy was. Since Abrams directed The Force Awakens too, why bother with Snoke when he could’ve resurrected Palpatine there? His reveal feels tacked on. Falling back on Palpatine undermines Kylo’s development as the main antagonist that the prior movie set him up to be. If Kylo wants to be the First Order’s Supreme Leader, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t murder Palpatine as soon as he found him & take the Star Destroyer fleet. (This would’ve even played into Palpatine’s suicidal plans, unless he was just using reverse psychology on Rey.)
With so much of the intergalactic franchise being focused on the Skywalker clan, it was refreshing that Rey’s parents were unimportant. It showed greatness could spring from anywhere, not just acclaimed lineages. Except this movie reveals that she’s actually Palpatine’s granddaughter! (Palpatine having a son seems like something that should’ve been addressed earlier! Who did he procreate with & under what conditions? Did he asexually create a son like Darth Plagueis the Wise?) So now Rey is really adept at The Force because she’s got the genes of the most pivotal Sith Lord. It makes random concentrations of symbiotic Midichlorian bacteria seem egalitarian.
New characters are introduced as classic ones return, which leaves little room for this trilogy’s main heroes to breathe. Despite having the most intriguing background, this trilogy has largely underused Finn. Rose Tico is now sidelined as a glorified extra. At least Oscar Isaac gets to be charming again.
Carrie Fisher’s untimely death casts a shadow over the film. Although her CGI understudy is very convincing, General Leia can’t be the focal classic character to close out the trilogy as intended. She dies making psychic contact with her son. It’s a much weaker rehash of how her brother died, especially since she was powerful enough to automatically survive the vacuum of space. There’s a flashback showing she renounced her Jedi training, which undermines her more. Leia really should’ve just been reintroduced as a full Jedi in Episode VII.
C-3PO gets lots of good comic & heartfelt moments. Much like Sith Rey with her silly folding Darth Maul lightsaber, his red-eyed heel turn was merely a trailer fakeout. I don’t even recall him wielding Chewie’s bowcaster like Target exclusive toy promised. (Hasbro needs a copyeditor.) BB-8 remains cute. Abrams voices another droid, D-O, with intel that makes all the knife stuff superfluous.
It turns out the General Hux is the mole within the First Order. Hux doesn’t care who wins so long as Kylo loses. This is one of the rare moments of characterization that genuinely works. This nihilistic pettiness feels organic to both the individual & the overall organizational ethos of the villains.
Richard E. Grant appears as the First Order’s Admiral
Kitty Pryde. Not only have we never seen him among these officers before, he also claims to have served under Palpatine during the Imperial Era. Between this & Logan, Grant is specializing in villains that confound continuity. (He seems like a delightful chap though.)
Who are the Knights of Ren? Their backstory matters as much as Snoke’s. They don’t even get individual names before Kylo vanquishes them in his redemption arc. (Since Rey stole his ship, did he just teleport to Exogal?)
Is Zorii Bliss Rey’s mum? No, that’s Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer in a thankless cameo. Kerri Russell’s Rocketeer Lady (who needs a jetpack) is just there to in an attempt to no-homo Poe. (Little does Disney realize it’s supporting the bisexual agenda.) This Spice pirate has a cool design & a porn star name! Like Jyn Erso, she has Diet Han Solo personality that turns on a dime. Whither Sidon Ithano, nicknamed the “Crimson Corsair,” the “Blood Buccaneer,” & the “Red Raider?”
Jetpack Stormtroopers have finally made it to the big screen. The other new Stormtrooper variant are the spiffy crimson Sith Troopers. Like Rogue One’s Death Troopers, these guys do so much nothing they could be deleted without anyone noticing. The SDCC edition’s arsenal is irrelevant.
Palptine renames the First Order “The Final Order.” He’s had a fleet of Star Destroyers with Death Star cannons built on Exegol. Destroying enemy planets is such an overused threat in this series that it no longer has the appropriate atrocity weight. Maybe instead of throwing new single biome planets at the wall, they could flesh out the dozens they’ve already established? The Conservation of Ninjutsu further lowers the stakes. Now if they’d opened by having these mysterious Star Destoyers annihilating planets, that might’ve added some urgency & shock value. Exegol’s navigation tower is the fleet’s Achilles heel, so Pryde has command be transferred to his ship. So the Resistance just blows up his ship’s antenna instead. It’s still super easy to board & leave First Order ships.
Rey doesn’t kill Palpatine because he gloats that he & the rest of the Sith will just live on through her. So we’re suddenly playing by Avatar: The Last Airbender rules? Since Rey isn’t Sith, is it Highlander rules instead? (Every time a Jedi or Sith lops off someone’s arms, they absorb its strength.) He switches plans by stealing Rey’s & Kylo’s lifeforces & shooting lightning at all the Rebel ships. She defeats Palpatine by deflecting his unlimited power back at him with crossed lightsabers. That seems abruptly easy. Kylo, a Skywalker, rises from the crevasse he was thrown into to revive Rey.
I did get excited by the few brief seconds of Wicket’s return! This was the only fan service that resonated with me. Make some Black Series Ewoks already, Hasbro! Sadly we don’t get to see him team up with Lando. (Has Lando Calrissian been Orlando Calrissian this whole time?) I’d also like God of Trok & Crisis On Infinite Ewoks spinoffs!
Rey still has Luke’s blue lightsaber despite it being destroyed last movie. Where’s his green one? We only see the yellow lightsaber she makes in the last scene. She adopts the Skywalker surname in the final scene to justify the title, as if she hasn’t been ascendant since this trilogy began. This mystery of Rey remains!
This trilogy teases relationships without consummating them. Rather than this being an artistic choice, it cynically feels calculated so Disney can claim it supports all the shippers equally. Are the formerly friendly Finn & Poe crabby at the beginning due to an offscreen lovers’ spat? I’m glad Kylo dies immediately after kissing Rey because Reylo is icky. (It’s okay that he blew up a planet & killed his dad because he’s mopey about it?) Finn never tells Rey he loves her, & Rose’s love for Finn doesn’t come up again. The celebration scene ends with Rey, Finn, & Poe embracing each other. So this means they’re polyamory endgame, right?
I was more excited to see Cats than Episode IX! The Force justified my feeling. There are lots of Star Wars movies you could watch, & this isn’t one of the better installments. My monocle flew off when I realized the man behind Lost made a disappointing conclusion! It is moderately better than Alan Dean Foster’s pitch. It’s so creatively regressive it supports the notion there’s no viable stories left to tell in this franchise. Disney will continue to find new ways to monetize it nonetheless. Cats may not be a masterpiece, but at least it’s a unique viewing experience.
I don’t have Disney+, but the Interwuzzle decided it needed to spoil The Mandolorian for me immediately! I thought dodging Game of Thrones season eight spoilers was nigh impossible! As you undoubtedly already know, it’s Lone Wolf & Cub … IN OUTER SPACE! Its Big Bad is revealed!
We need a Black Series figure of Fennec Shand that can be customized into Melinda May as Agents of SHIELD got shafted on merch.
If the EU had built Greedo up as a badass instead of a loser, Han Solo would be more impressive. “MACLUNKEY!”
I’m not sure what’s coming up next, but why not stick around to be surprised?