Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Rating

Director

J.J. Abrams

Screenplay

J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow

Length

2h 22min

Starring

Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Greg Grunberg, Shirley Henderson, Billie Lourd, Dominic Monaghan

MPAA Rating

PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action

Original Preview

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Buy on DVD/Blu-ray

Soundtrack

Poster

Source Material

Review

There comes a point when studios need to understand that fan service can only do so much heavy lifting with a film. It requires a convincing narrative, strong characterizations, and a commitment to taking risks to elevate a film beyond the pablum of box-checking. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is not the film Disney should have made, it’s the film fans demanded to their own detriment.

As the final film in the Skywalker Saga, The Rise of Skywalker is an overlong mess that tries to tie every single other film into the narrative without doing so convincingly. The film features countless cameos and throwbacks to the prior films that it almost feels like a documentary about the saga itself rather than a fully-formed idea of a film.

As Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training under the tutelage of Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), the threat of a thought-dead villain threatens the forward momentum of the rebellion while Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) work to find his location. Through a series of roadblocks, all three continue trying to find the necessary course while Rey continues to insist that only she can stop the threat.

Nearly every character that has dotted the landscape of the last four-plus decades of films features at some point in the film. The prequels see the least representation, but the originals are well represented with the likes of Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Billy Dee Williams all making requisite appearances. It’s a film almost entirely built off of fan service without giving them anything suitably deep or thought-provoking to latch onto. The lackluster screenplay by Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams struggles to find something worthy to say that doesn’t devolve into pointless regurgitation of series tropes and characterizations.

Further, characters with a great deal of promise like Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) have been sidelined while new characters like Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell) were added with seemingly little need. A great deal of effort has also been made to retcon the prior outing from Rian Johnson simply because fans were unreasonably angry about it, the end result is something that feels almost half-baked.

That isn’t to say that the film doesn’t work. Fans are sure to be enthralled by the movie even if some are disappointed by the direction the final film ultimately took. Those fan service moments largely excite and there are plenty of emotion-filled moments thanks to John Williams’ always-exciting score.

The problem is and always will be J.J. Abrams who has never been a fan of creating his own unique vision. Every franchise he gets his hands on is stripped bare of its essence and retrofitted to his exacting mediocrity. If he’s not outright copying other, better work (Super 8, Star Trek 1 & 2, The Force Awakens), he’s creating something as unchallenging and frequently dull as The Rise of Skywalker.

Review Written

April 6, 2020

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