Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Dec 21, 2019 18:03:06 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Dec 21, 2019 18:03:06 GMT -5
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Directed by: J. J. Abrams
Directed by: J. J. Abrams
John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
NOTE: Contains absolutely no spoilers and a purposefully vague description of the plot.
Ever since Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released, you might've seen the term "retcon" pop up on one of the many social media websites. "Retcon" is a portmanteau for "retroactive continuity," and it refers to an instance where subsequent installments of a series alter or disregard previously established facts of the world and the characters to fit a new narrative. Retcon wasn't invented when The Last Jedi was released (the term was largely applied to comic books prior), but because Rian Johnson's second installment in the Star Wars "sequel trilogy" defiantly embraced a different path, it was accused of "retconning" the series.
As a casual fan of Star Wars myself and someone who has taken the series at face value, appreciating it more than loving it, I wasn't particularly offended by Johnson's creative decisions. After Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which played more like a retread of A New Hope with some intriguing new characters, it was actually a bit refreshing to see a production that allowed a young director to have a vision and do something different with these storied characters along with the new faces that were introduced. After all, you can make the argument that's what The Empire Strikes Back did, and love it or hate it, The Phantom Menace did in order to kickstart the trilogy of prequels. But after fans bitched and moaned (I'm not going to get into whether or not they were justified, that's to the discretion of those more entranced with this series than myself) loud enough on Twitter and made comprehensive YouTube videos explaining why Johnson's film was an affront to the entire franchise, I expected Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to "retcon" the series to a degree. What I didn't expect was a film that would be so lacking in imagination it would wash over me like just another blockbuster.
Keeping the plot somewhat general, the overarching dilemma is that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is revealed to be alive in the prologue. The Emperor is planning a return of the Sith along with the evil Empire as he's remained on a remote planet. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is told by Palpatine to find Rey (Daisy Ridley), who is with the General Leia-led Resistance, along with familiar faces Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), Chewie (Joonas Suotamo), and the relentlessly amusing C-3PO (Anthony Daniels). The sudden reappearance of Palpatine unsettles the Resistance, as they learn he's planning to lead a cavalcade of ships strong enough to take out the entire group along with several planets, so time is of the essence for them to avoid certain doom. This, too, prompts Rey to track down a mysterious device known as the "Sith Wayfinder" in order to find Palpatine's location while Finn and Poe ready a line of defense in order to stop the Emperor.
It's abundantly clear that writers (I use that term loosely and I'll elaborate why later) Abrams and Chris Terrio (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) wanted to nix most of the gritty details and focus on a climactic battle, which is understandable to an extent. After The Last Jedi, with all of its flaws, tried to push the story forward into ambitious territory, The Rise of Skywalker plays like a disappointing course-correction. Therein lies the ultimate issue: this was a trilogy made without a clear vision. As much as George Lucas' prequels were lackluster, save for the often underrated Revenge of the Sith, one can't deny he at least had a direction, even if someone should've probably stepped in to redirect a handful of his creative decisions.
Age-old news is the fact that The Rise of Skywalker was originally going to be helmed by Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow. Firing Trevorrow and hiring Abrams was all the evidence you needed that Disney wanted a serious reneging to take place after the backlash of The Last Jedi. Point being: I'd much rather have another film that felt as if it were pushing Star Wars into newfound themes and developments as opposed to one that inoffensively stays the course, caught unevenly between homage and soulless fan-service.
Much like Abrams' The Force Awakens, this one, yet again, feels like it was conjured up by a gaggle of studio-heads who spent day-after-day sitting in a boardroom debating on how best to realign this already messy trilogy back to the status quo. Abrams has never struck me as a director who commands a project, but rather, coaches one into becoming what it is, while an abundance of producers, co-writers, storyboard artists, and studio-hands grapple to have their input considered and thus included. A film this driven by the past and underlying fan-service only makes these details rise to the surface in a far more obvious fashion.
The Rise of Skywalker is not without its moments. There's an enthralling desert chase sequence that reminded me a bit of Mad Max: Fury Road, from its variety of camera angles to its loud, intense action. Rey's story is ultimately a huge point of interest because she serves as a significant piece to close the Skywalker saga of the series. Moreover, Ridley has grown with each passing movie to more convincingly embody a strong-willed soul caught unevenly between the negative balances of the Empire and how to properly use the Force and learn from Luke's (Mark Hamill) own misgivings.
But too often, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a big bowl of fine. It has moments of peril, but it nonetheless feels like a comedown from ambition. Even forgiving the need for optimism on part of the Resistance, the incessant emphasis on characters imploring each other to remain hopeful shows there's little desire for any thematic growth on part of the filmmakers. It's serviceable big-screen entertainment, as are most films that begin with the familiar "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." title-card and subsequent opening crawl, but at this juncture, it's fair to say the long-time fans and even the casual ones deserve something more impacting.
My review of Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/5005/star-wars-episode-force-awakens
My review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/5378/rogue-star-wars-story
My review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/5892/star-wars-last-jedi
My review of Solo: A Star Wars Story: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6087/solo-star-wars-story
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Anthony Daniels, Richard E. Grant, Billy Dee Williams, Lupita Nyong'o, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill. Directed by: J. J. Abrams.