The Rise and Fall of Skywalker – Rants, Not Reviews

Retrospect and hindsight are almost necessary when reviewing any Star Warsfilm. Flashback to any release date and all my memories are clouded by torrents of angry fans yodelling about the integrity of Star Wars lore or critics preaching from pedestals about the films’ use of feminine figures, rather than actually analysing the film within the context of its own medium.

Flashforward to now, there is now only me talking about it, and probably no one cares. The wet flop of quiet now surrounding the film probably sums up the impact of the film. 

Currently, this all appears VERY negative and you’ve probably got the impression that I can think that I could have done it better. I don’t. Admittedly, when I watched the film, I was entertained. Film is an entertainment industry therefore J.J. Abrams (sort of…) needs a round of applause. He did his job on the most fundamental level. Yet it should not be understated how difficult that job was. 

The trilogy began with Abrams’ own vision. Whether it was too similar to Lucas’ original vision or not, is an argument for another day. Similarities or not, fans were happy. THEN came about the rage-fuelling, hate-inspiring, devil-incarnate, Sith-ridden, Luke-should-not-have-thrown-that-fucking-lightsabre-ing film called The Last Jedi. Which I really enjoyed. And most of the reason I enjoyed it was purely because it wasn’t The Force Awakensand it wasn’t a carbon copy of The Empire Strikes Back, it was its own movie. Unfortunately, with Star Wars you can’t do that because it has to be the fans’ movie. It may have been far from perfect but it made its own choices and Rian Johnson was a brave man. (I can just imagine that man laughing at videos of Star Wars nerds breaking their collectors’ items like a berserker when talking about The Last Jedi).

As a result of Rian Johnson being at the helm for the second film, we effectively had two different build ups, two ideas, two trajectories, a big-bad Sith primary antagonist killed off AND to make matters worse, there was only two and a half hours to pay everything off and finish a nine-film saga. I’d say I don’t envy Abrams but he’s probably shitting gold at this point. Hence, the lack of focused direction throughout the largest movie trilogy and narrative of the decade resulted in it being lacklustre. Shock. I sympathise with Scorsese’s grudge towards recent blockbusters. I know that he targeted the Avengers films more, but Star Wars is in the same bracket at this point. In this trilogy, whose story was told? Not Rey’s – whose artistic mind? What did it all have to say? What did it teach us about its characters on a profound level? What’s the fucking point?

Again, all quite negative at this point BUT it was a tall, tall order to pull off this film. They needed another two films and one person directing each one. 

So what was done well? You know the CGI will be immense. As will John Williams’ score. Those factors will always be the case. The actors all did a pretty good job. Some got less of a role than I would have hoped, granted, as Finn was seemingly relegated to a tag-along side-kick that just loves screaming ‘Wooooo!’ just to tell everyone in the audience how they should be feeling. Props to Daisy Ridley though, I actually thought she did a pretty good job. Rey has seemed a bit stale in the past, a bit too perfect. In The Rise of Skywalker, her history is finally revealed and thus her inner torment intensifies. She is practically invincible though, looking as if she has turned the difficulty down to beginner in an RPG.

Going over the cast briefly: Adam Driver is Adam Driver. Which is fantastic. Kylo Ren was easily the character I was most invested in. Which is often the case with Star Wars, the best characters are the ones that hover in the grey zone of morality. The entire crew did the best job possible with Carrie Fisher’s old footage, piecing together old recordings of Leia so that her story can come full circle and her passing can be respected. Ian McDiarmid was full Palpatine like you could ever imagine and was as good as a stand in for Snoke as could have been mastered (all plot holes aside). John Boyega and Oscar Isaac were both fine, I just don’t think they had the best material to play with. 

In total honesty, I think the majority of the film was very well put together. It is just aspects of the script which made me want to claw my eyes out at parts and unfortunately, that often overshadows all other aspects of a production. 

MAIN GRIPE NUMBER ONE: deaths. Scratch that, fake out deaths. This film went all out Walking Dead. Be warned, spoilers ahead (but in total honesty if you haven’t watched the film then what are you doing reading this review?). When the ship that Chewbacca WAS in, don’t tell me he wasn’t, blew up I got so excited, it’s quite sickening. At that point, I thought to myself, fuck this is bold. Picking up Johnson’s mantel of going against fan’s expectations? Yeah, I couldn’t have been more wrong. One scene later and oh there he is! Two scenes later and the rest of the characters looked like they had forgotten about him anyway. Thus, the most exciting scene so far was ultimately reduced to a set piece just to provide exposition to show the Rey is a Palpatine.

Maybe I could have forgiven them if they only did this once but no, they undermined another one of the best scenes in the movie an hour later. The lightsabre fight between Kylo and Rey upon the wreckage in the midst of a sea storm was stunning, their sabres blazing amidst the raw monotone environment. The emotion in such moments was just not there for me when I recollect upon it though. It was touching that Kylo seemingly dies when his mother does but what did that or the fight itself actually mean to the characters? Not much. This film was once in which can carry the audience upon the wave of its spectacle but when the film ends and that wave crashes, all is left is this empty beach, each promising idea incapable of becoming more than a grain of sand among millions. Like they couldn’t even let Kylo fucking die and make that mean something, no Rey goes OP mode and brings him back to life. But I guess she did it on a better CGI Anaconda so all is well in the world. I feel like this part of the sequence would not have frustrated me anywhere near as much if they had not done the Chewbacca farce earlier.

Side note… in all fairness, the scene between Kylo and his father was pretty touching and critical for his arc. Fan service done well.

In all fairness, the helmet looked cool af.

Damn, that was a big gripe. GRIPE NUMBER TWO: Palpatine. Yes, Abrams had to pluck gold out of his arse to pull off a great antagonist after Johnson killed off Snoke, however, bringing back Palpatine isn’t really the gripe here. It is just the moment when he raises thousands of Star Destroyers out of the ground that A) makes a franchise, that was originally for kids, reach new heights of disbelief, and B) makes the Death Star just look insignificant.  

GRIPE NUMBER 3: Some fan service fell flat. Lando appears magically on the one planet they need something on. Other than that, he is entirely disposable. When Rey hears all the voices of past Jedi’s. Some people might lose their minds on this one but for me, it was a bit unnecessary. I can’t believe I’m actually complaining about Samuel L. Jackson being in a movie.

GRIPE NUMBER FOUR: Myself. Moaning endlessly is getting quite superfluous and tedious in all honesty and if you enjoyed the film, you may well hate me at this point.

So in essence, when I was at the cinema, I had a good time. The film is a feast for the eyes and no one can take that away from everyone involved. Star Wars has always and still is entertaining regardless of its other faults. To bash it to this extent now seems pointless but with its armies of fans constantly being brought to my attention, I can no longer take this franchise at face value. It has been installed upon almost everyone that these must be dissected and they must follow its strict lore and EVERYTHING must always be compared to the original trilogy. This is inevitable but so is a dip in quality when those in charge of production do not follow a blueprint throughout a trilogy and go gung-ho because its profitability is a certainty. 

RATING: *Big Sigh* 5/10.

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