I feel as if the only way to really open this review is to discuss where I was as a Star Wars fan going in. I think that’ll really convey why I feel the way I do about this movie. I really do love Star Wars, and it holds a very special place in my nerd heart. I love all 3 original trilogy movies, although Return of the Jedi is my favorite amongst them. I do not like the prequels but can acknowledge some good aspects about them. I am not a fan of The Force Awakens or Rogue One. The Last Jedi is easily my favorite Star Wars movies and one of my favorite movies of all-time. (Send your hate mail to @crpWritescom on Twitter). I also really enjoyed Solo. So, I was 50/50 on Disney’s venture into Star Wars. Which brings me to The Rise of Skywalker. What did I think of the final film in the Skywalker Saga? Well, Star Wars is a pathway to many opinions that some consider to be… unnatural.
I’ll give J.J Abrams this much... he makes very pretty movies. Some of the visuals and shots were top tier. He knows how to point the camera. His style is also different enough to separate himself from Rian Johnson. It’s nice that the two of them brought their own voices to their own films, even if that did muddy the waters a bit when it came to making a cohesive trilogy at the end of the day. Abrams isn’t strong at concluding stories, so he was an odd choice to come back for this. This isn’t an exception, it is the rule. He also paced this movie terribly. The first half is rushed beyond belief and the second half slows down far too much. It becomes a drag and it ends long after I wanted it too. So, the movie never shakes the feeling that is a mess. Because it is a mess. Abrams is to blame for that.
This is one of those movies where it is all plot and no story. What does that mean? Well a lot of events happen in this movie. It has so much going on and so many characters doing random objectives. This creates the illusion of story. However, for the life of me I could not tell you what this movie’s story is or what it is about. I could tell you plot points and scenes that happen. But it is not wrapped together in any real coherent story. Stuff just happens, but it means nothing. So, it is rather boring for the most part. The first half is almost unwatchable. It starts out with a traditional Star Wars crawl that already asks the audience to accept a lot. Then the plot jumps into the lightspeed for the next hour. We go to several different locations and planets in the span of an hour. The movie never stops to let the audience breathe or take in anything. A lot of stuff is revealed throughout the movie, but it never pauses for the audience to digest what the implications of each reveal means and how it makes them feel. It is too much. Far too much. It also tries to connect all 3 movies in this trilogy together, but it is sloppy. One of these movies doesn’t fit into J.J. Abrams’ equation and he makes that aspect felt. It also suffers from having a strong lack of vision. This all feels so tired. It’s the most “Been there, done that” of the entire saga.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The problem here is not the actors’ fault. All of the cast gives it their all. They are all trying, and almost all of them seem to be having a good time making this. I do like almost all of the characters here. Ian McDiarmid slips seamlessly back into his greatest role and is a welcome presence despite the way his character was used being uninspired. Adam Driver continued being the best part of this trilogy. Daisy Ridley anchors the movie well. The problem is that the writing fails almost each and every one of these characters. No character leaves the movie unscathed except for General Hux. Each of them either regress, become boring, or get screwed over. The movie doesn’t balance any of the characters properly. None of them get enough time, and then the movie has the gaul to introduce new characters on-top of everyone else for highly cynical reasons. Don’t be surprised when you see a few Disney+ shows coming out of this.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
This is getting a full score solely out of respect for John Williams. The themes you all know and love are used to great effect here. However, I have some gripes about the score as well and it is not John Williams’ fault. There are some weird choices when it came to the placement of music or lack of it. There are sequences in this movie that could have been epic and would have been elevated by Williams’ score. But J.J. Abrams or the editor or whoever chose to not use it. There is a lightsaber duel near the middle of the film that uses diegetic sounds instead of a traditional score and I feel that was a mistake. That scene would have held more weight if they allowed Williams to do an original score. I mean, you have John freakin’ Williams. Use him.
This movie uses both practical and CGI effects to great avail. Much like the other two movies in this trilogy. It does what a Star Wars movie should do. The effects are good and the practical creatures are also great. The design of Palpatine is also really well thought out. Props to the crew for this. I know these movies are hell to make and it paid off in that regard.
Look, nobody wants a mixed bag for an end of a massive trilogy that means so much to so many people. I wanted to love this movie with all of my heart. I wanted to be here congratulating J.J, Disney, and whoever on a trilogy well done. However, I can’t do that. I didn’t love this. I don’t feel they stuck the landing here. It’s not a disaster and it’s nothing to get angry about. However, I can’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed in this. I was. Plain and simple. I have always said that Star Wars has been built on risk. A New Hope was a massive risk on Lucas’s part. Empire and Jedi were too, for different reasons. The prequels for better or for worse were built on a massive risk. Both Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker play it too safe for my liking, although there are several good things to be found in this movie. If you are a Star Wars fan, there will be something you enjoy. I loved most of the stuff with Lando and Chewie, for example. However, this movie was not the movie I was looking for.