Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (J. J. Abrams, 2019)

WARNING: The very premise of this film contains spoilers for the series thus far.

The members of the Resistance have escaped from Planet Crait and are now mounting a counterattack against the First Order. However, as they regroup, a shocking, new development occurs. A mysterious broadcast resonates throughout the galaxy, promising a threat of revenge. The voice belongs to none other than the deceased Emperor Palpatine – the despot ruler of the Galactic Empire. In response, General Leia Organa has dispatched her agents to gather intelligence as Rey prepares for the final battle. As the new Supreme Leader of the First Order, Kylo Ren attempts to solve the mystery of this phantom emperor, hoping to eliminate any threat to his own reign.


Usually, when parsing any work of art, it pays to maintain a neutral tone before writing an assessment of its quality. After all, if someone goes into a work actively wanting to hate or love it, one wonders exactly how genuine the observations that follow can be. The Rise of Skywalker is a rare example of a film that, before its operator has a chance to push the play button, already has a significant strike against it in the form of its direct predecessor. Although it could be argued that J. J. Abrams only had a rough outline as to how the sequel trilogy would pan out, Rian Johnson, the director The Last Jedi, ensured a majority of the plot threads The Force Awakens established had nowhere to go. The supposed main antagonist was dead, Rey’s parents were nobodies, Kylo Ren had suffered yet another humiliating loss, and General Hux saw himself reduced to a bumbling clown.

When examining the state of things going into The Rise of Skywalker, there is no suspense to be found at all. Kylo Ren, though certainly a formidable foe capable of easily slaughtering anyone not named Rey, utterly lacks any kind of intimidation factor. With Snoke dead, one would have to go back the original trilogy to find a Star Wars villain worth taking seriously. It therefore seemed like a natural choice for the writers to do just that. Unfortunately, it is with the opening text crawl’s biggest revelation that The Rise of Skywalker suffers a fatal blow from which it cannot recover. The warning signs that the sequel trilogy had no chance of redeeming itself were prevalent throughout The Last Jedi, but outright bringing back Palpatine from the dead marks the exact moment the writers gave up.

To play the devil’s advocate, I will argue that, given the circumstances, the decision to reinstate Palpatine as the main antagonist of the series wasn’t a bad one in of itself. As a highly conflicted person, Kylo Ren was never going to cut it in such a role without either losing credibility as a villain or becoming too unsympathetic for audiences to buy his inevitable redemption. With Mr. Abrams being unable to use Snoke, bringing back Palpatine was arguably the only option he had left that could be considered even remotely sane. As the third installment in the sequel trilogy, it was far too late for the writers to have a hitherto unknown villain casually waltz in and steal the spotlight from Kylo Ren. Reintroducing a villain the audience already knows to be a top-tier threat systematically resolves these issues. The film then establishes that Snoke was a puppet ruler Palpatine created to front the First Order.

That being said, Palpatine’s resurrection continues what many people consider to be the single most damaging aspect of the sequel trilogy. Even if Mr. Abrams got off to a reasonably good start with The Force Awakens, one couldn’t escape the reality that it invalidated what Luke, Leia, and Han accomplished in the original three films. Despite all of their efforts to destroy the Galactic Empire, the First Order rose and continued business as usual. They even managed to construct a giant Death Star to replace the old one. This trend continued into The Last Jedi, which rendered Luke’s arc in the original trilogy moot when he made the fateful decision to consider killing Kylo in his sleep. The Rise of Skywalker goes a step beyond even that by rendering Darth Vader’s redemption, one of the most poignant moments in the entire franchise, a complete waste when it turns out he failed to kill Palpatine in his attempt to save Luke from the dark side. In an attempt to have its cake and eat it, the narrative claims Palpatine did actually die by Darth Vader’s hand, but offers no explanation as to how he was resurrected outside of a callback to one of his speeches in Revenge of the Sith. In doing so, the sequel trilogy effectively made him the Star Wars equivalent of a comic-book villain in that he can and will be brought back as long as he is popular enough – logic and internal consistency be damned.

Another significant setback that doomed this film from the onset was brought about in December of 2016 due to Carrie Fisher’s tragic, untimely passing. She had collapsed aboard a commercial flight upon finishing the European leg of her book tour. Her scenes in The Last Jedi had been filmed by then, but Mr. Abrams found himself trapped when it came time to make the ninth episode. The installments of the sequel trilogy were intended to focus on each of the three main characters of the original films, giving them a proper sendoff. The Force Awakens focused on Han Solo, The Last Jedi in referred to Luke Skywalker, and The Rise of Skywalker would have delved further into Leia’s story.

Because of this unfortunate circumstance, Mr. Abrams had to find some way to bring her character into the movie posthumously. The results were predictably disastrous. He used cut footage of her from The Force Awakens, recontextualizing it for The Rise of Skywalker. They did their best, but it is painfully obvious she isn’t really there. Scenes are clumsily written around her dialogue, and she is only shot from behind to hide the fact that a double is in Carrie Fisher’s stead. With this bit of knowledge, Leia’s scenes are incredibly awkward to watch.

One could argue that Mr. Abrams and his team were honoring the character by not recasting her, but their unwillingness to do so cheapened the story even further. As a counterexample, during the making of the Harry Potter films, Richard Harris, the actor portraying Dumbledore, died in between the second and third installments. Due to the character’s importance to the story, writing him out wasn’t an option. Therefore, the crew had to recast the character; Michael Gambon ultimately got the part. Although Richard Harris was well-liked, even his most ardent supporters understood the need to change actors and accepted Michael Gambon with little, if any, drama. For his part, Mr. Gambon honored Mr. Harris’s memory by affecting an Irish accent when portraying Dumbledore.

Admittedly, the case with the Star Wars sequel trilogy is a bit different than that of the Harry Potter adaptations. While Harry Potter takes place within a shorter time span, one of the greatest appeals of the sequel trilogy was watching the original actors portray their respective characters in later stages in their lives. I can accept that to many people, only Carrie Fisher could possibly have done the character justice. However, there eventually comes a point in which one has to forgo these well-meaning sentiments and make practical decisions. As it stands, Leia’s arc is resolved in the least satisfactory way possible. After several disjointed scenes, Leia calls to her son, Kylo Ren, during his duel with Rey. Unlike the previous two encounters, he actually gains the upper hand and is about to land the finishing blow, but he stops when his mother calls out to him. For some reason, this costs Leia her life. For such a major character to have fewer than twenty lines only to be killed off with little fanfare is ridiculous – even considering the circumstances.

This development also means that Kylo is now responsible for the deaths of all three of the original trilogy’s protagonists. It would’ve been impactful if, for example, they had given their lives to ensure the return of Ben Solo, allowing him to walk a path of redemption. However, that’s not what happens. After the obligatory final battle against Palpatine, Ben uses the Force to bring back Rey from the brink of death, costing him his own life. What was intended to be a happy ending is suddenly rendered extremely depressing when you realize that both the Solo and Skywalker families are extinct. The bloodline that does end up surviving is, ironically enough, Palpatine’s.

Yes, one of the most persistent fan theories, that Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter, was confirmed to be true during the course of The Rise of Skywalker. This would appear to contradict The Last Jedi, which stated her parents were worthless deadbeats who sold her for drinking money. However, Kylo clarifies that Rey’s father was the son of the emperor. They chose to become nobodies in order to protect her. After leaving Jakku and refusing to divulge Rey’s location, they were killed by Palpatine himself.

I find I have a difficult time describing exactly how I feel about this twist. I actually like the concept of a good character being related to the main antagonist – even if The Empire Strikes Back made it a stock twist. At the same time, I have to say the actual execution was appalling. There was very little in the way of foreshadowing to this reveal.  A scene in The Last Jedi implied Rey is a little too comfortable with darkness. On top of that, at one point in The Rise of Skywalker, Rey inadvertently uses Force Lightning to destroy a First Order vessal. Regardless, it was nigh-impossible to extrapolate from either of these incidents that she is Palpatine’s granddaughter. Coupled with the fact that Palpatine was only introduced in the sequel trilogy’s final installment, the revelation doesn’t have nearly the same impact as the world-famous one from The Empire Strikes Back.

It also doesn’t help that this information goes against what Mr. Abrams stated in an interview around the time The Force Awakens was released. He claimed Rey wouldn’t turn out to be related to any established character. Assuming he wasn’t lying, this suggests he never intended for such a twist to occur. By that token, I can understand why he would go back on his word. The Last Jedi failed to meaningfully challenge Rey. Even if the Resistance was worse off than the Rebels ever were, she herself faced little in the way of hardships. At the absolute worst, she would face incredibly minor setbacks – and they all ended up being reversed immediately, giving her no room to grow as a character.

Not pictured: Dramatic tension.

Given how invincible Rey was with little training, Mr. Abrams had to find some way to explain how she became so powerful. Making her the granddaughter of Palpatine, the most powerful Force user in the series, was the easiest way to accomplish that. In fact, this decision is the only reason The Rise of Skywalker has anything resembling stakes. After all, what would happen if our invincible heroine became evil? What could stop her given that she seems to be good at absolutely everything? Suddenly, the idea of her decimating everyone in her path doesn’t sound so pleasant.

Indeed, much of the film’s runtime is spent backpedaling from The Last Jedi. This incensed vocal supporters of the eighth film, but I find it too was necessary. Mr. Johnson’s thorough deconstruction of the Star Wars plot ensured Mr. Abrams had practically nothing to work with. Rey certainly wasn’t going to lose to Kylo again, so it’s time to bring back Palpatine. Rose Tico was a poorly written character with no plot presence until The Last Jedi, so she could be easily benched. Holdo’s tactics were misbegotten, so her success had to be written off as a happy accident. B-17 Bombers in space defies any kind of logic, so the Y-Wings are back in full force. Luke exiling himself made his character highly unsympathetic, so he shows up in The Rise of Skywalker as a Force ghost to admit it was a mistake. The result is that The Rise of Skywalker practically retcons The Last Jedi out of existence while keeping its plot points in broad strokes.

Although I do appreciate Mr. Abrams realizing just how terrible the storytelling in The Last Jedi was, the sheer amount of damage control he had to perform ties into what I believe to be his own film’s fatal flaw. I realize by now that my review of The Rise of Skywalker review is structured very strangely. It would seem as though I’m making whatever random criticism as pops up in my mind. This is because the film is only slightly more comprehensible when you’re watching it. I would describe the storytelling of The Rise of Skywalker to that of a Japanese role-playing game from the 1990s. The heroes are made to go on a fetch quest after a few paragraphs of exposition. When they reach the item they need, a boss fight ensues. Lather, rinse, repeat until the story is over. The result is a film that goes at such a breakneck pace, absolutely none of these story beats have a chance to settle.

Again, this flaw was evident before the film even begins. As a result of the sheer amount of goodwill The Last Jedi lost for the franchise, I found myself uninterested in seeing The Rise of Skywalker. I eventually decided it would be for the best to see it so I could properly take part in the conversation. Before I saw it, I remember stumbling upon an article that said Palpatine was to return. I was irritated because I thought I had read a spoiler. However, as mentioned before, the film doesn’t even try to hide Palpatine’s presence in the plot, spelling it out in the opening text crawl. We don’t even get to hear his broadcast in the film, which would’ve been more impactful had the creators resisted the urge to tip their hands. The only people who did hear it discovered it in the online game Fortnite. The idea of placing a crucial part of the plot in a piece of media that otherwise has nothing to do with the work itself is more than a little questionable.

Worst of all, the Resistance doesn’t have much of a reaction to Palpatine’s return. Leia sensibly dispatches her troops to determine the broadcast’s veracity, but even once it’s confirmed, the Resistance barely loses a night’s sleep over it. This would be like if an infamous figure from the Second World War confirmed dead by various sources suddenly hijacked every television monitor in the world four decades later to announce their return and the populace merely decided it was a bit strange rather than going into a panic. Personally, I think it’s a metaphor for the film itself. For many people, The Last Jedi ended up being the last straw, so hearing of the possibly that Palpatine might return failed to illicit a reaction other than apathy from them. The apathy, in turn, is evident throughout the entire film. Mr. Abrams had nothing to work with, so it felt as though he and his crew wanted to get over with it already. This inspired those tasking themselves with parsing The Rise of Skywalker to follow suit.


Although I find it difficult to fault Mr. Abrams for how The Rise of Skywalker turned out, there is no getting around that it is a complete mess from beginning to end. In a lot of ways, it’s not really a film as much as it is a collection of individual scenes slapped together in a vaguely sequential order that fail to build anything cohesive. In that regard, it is exactly like the trilogy itself. Whatever plans Mr. Abrams had for the third installment were doomed from the outset once Mr. Johnson went rogue with The Last Jedi. Mr. Johnson practicably made a standalone film out of what was supposed to be the second act of a larger story, forcing Mr. Abrams to backtrack.

The Last Jedi may have proven to be the most divisive entry in the franchise, but once The Rise of Skywalker debuted, both sides could finally agree on one thing: the sequel trilogy was a failure. The only real question concerned which installment caused the bottom to fall out.

In the end, it didn’t matter what your viewpoints were; at least one installment of this trilogy was destined to lose you. If you were brought in by the deconstructive eighth episode, the immediate follow-up’s reliance on fanservice had you decrying Mr. Abrams’s name for giving the squeaky wheel the grease. Conversely, if you disliked the eighth episode, there was a good chance the ninth would be considered a return to form due to having retroactively excised a majority of what you felt to be the former’s worst aspects. Even then, you would have story without a second act, making the third borderline incomprehensible. In fact, by the end of the decade, it was highly disingenuous to call what The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker formed a trilogy anymore. Semantics aside, the sequel trilogy should be treated as a case study, warning would-be artists what happens when a group of creators work against each other with no real plan rather than cooperating towards a common goal. The result is a grotesque amalgamation of creative stagnation and unfocused, misguided innovation.

It is sadly ironic that after The Force Awakens got the trilogy off to a decent start, almost succeeding in restoring the magic the Star Wars franchise had lost long ago, the following two installments would violently shatter the illusion. For want of the charisma exuded by the original actors or an artistic vision to keep things consistent, The Rise of Skywalker is a culmination of the sequel trilogy’s shortcomings, offering not a satisfying conclusion for any of its characters. Diehard fans of the franchise might enjoy the trilogy in spite of its flaws, but anyone seeking thoughtful writing in their art should look elsewhere.

Final Score: 2/10

28 thoughts on “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (J. J. Abrams, 2019)

  1. Well, what else can you say. I finally finished the whole trilogy, and it was certainly a depressing failure. It’s funny how the prequel trilogy started with two weak movies and ended with a half-decent one (I don’t know, maybe that’s being too generous to Revenge of the Sith, but just by comparison) and the sequel trilogy started with a decent movie and then tripped up with the last two. Maybe it would have been better if Abrams had just done something completely insane with this movie to end the series. It might have been stupid, but it probably would have been better than what we got. Then again, that’s kind of what happened with Game of Thrones, and that was awful. So I don’t know. I still like plenty of the actors in both series, so at least they’ll all be able to move on to hopefully better things artistically speaking.

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    • Yeah, it’s interesting how now both sides of this argument can agree the sequel trilogy is a failure; the only real difference between their viewpoints is with which installment it failed. Of course, I feel both were total trainwrecks. As you said, the sequel trilogy had the exact opposite trajectory of the prequel trilogy in that it got off to a decent start only to crash and burn with The Last Jedi, leaving it no chance to go anywhere else but down for The Rise of Skywalker. And no, I think Revenge of the Sith was actually pretty decent – even if it had the same problems as its two predecessors.

      Otherwise, I think the circumstances didn’t really leave Mr. Abrams much of anything to work with. It would’ve been interesting to see him go off the rails, but that may have resulted in an even bigger disaster than what we got. Either way, I too hope the actors and actresses move onto better things. Tran especially deserved way better.

      Also, it sounds like you were let down big time with Game of Thrones.

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      • I was, I guess like most everyone else. The show’s ending came out of nowhere and hardly made sense, requiring several major characters to forget about their established motivations or sudden turn stupid to move the plot along. But it really started falling off maybe two seasons before that, about when Benioff and Weiss ran out of book material to base the story off of. I think a lot of us had given up on the show recovering starting last season and were watching partly to see how badly they’d screw it up, and they didn’t disappoint on that count. I’m just looking forward to the next novel from George R R Martin now, whenever (or whether might be better to say) that comes out.

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        • I heard about that as well. It certainly didn’t help their cause that Mr. Martin is a notoriously slow writer. I believe he uses an outdated word processor as well, making the process even slower. But yeah, everyone else has told me the same thing; the quality started dipping with the two seasons leading up to the final one before going completely insane. It doesn’t sound like they played well with the cards they were dealt either way. Wonder if we’ll ever get a Game of Thrones: Brotherhood when (if?) all the books finally come out?

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  2. I saw Rise of Skywalker the first weekend in theaters and I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I feel about the movie. My intial response was the usual “More Star Wars!” but within hours of seeing it, I keep going over different things in the movie thinking “how the hell does THAT work??”. I totally understand that J.J. was put in kind of a lose-lose spot after TLJ but I think you described it as actually as anyone possibly could by using the word – Incoherent.
    The opening crawl was an omen for the rest of the movie, beginning with THE DEAD SPEAK!. The movie began AND continued at such a frenzied pace that there wasn’t a single moment to stop and take in what you had just seen. The movie felt like JJ and company desparetly found any and every shortcut they could take to force the pieces to fit….and still failed. I also thought MAYBE, just maybe if the movie would have been a full 3 hours similar to Endgame or the final installment being split into parts like The Deathly Hallows there would have been a little more room for something to develop. The movie I thought I could use as an example most closely would be Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as it also seemed a movie where the filmakers just seemed determined to find the shortest distance between two plot lines no matter the cost of the film.

    It really is a movie that you need to turn your brain off to enjoy….as I’m telling my wife moments ago, “let’s go see Star Wars again”….:)

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    • I have to admit that reflecting upon The Last Jedi ended up dulling my enthusiasm for this film. I felt that mine wasn’t a unique feeling. Many of my coworkers like Star Wars, and I didn’t hear The Rise of Skywalker mentioned once – not even in passing – on opening weekend. When I finally decided to see it, I have to say that the audience was dead. The last two screenings I went to had some of the liveliest audiences I’ve ever seen, but I didn’t hear a peep out of this one. Compared to my Endgame audience, this was quite jarring. And yeah, even if The Rise of Skywalker ended up an incoherent mess worse than The Last Jedi, I find that I can’t really fault Mr. Abrams too much; he was placed in a completely unwinnable situation.

      Yeah, no, this film doesn’t care for pacing or letting things settle. It pushes every single one of its story beats out the door before you have a chance to think about it. It really was the writers solving problems in the fewest number of steps possible, making it feel like the universe is guiding the protagonists to success. I know even back in the original trilogy, coincidences were common, but they have nothing on how contrived the situations in The Rise of Skywalker are. I myself definitely think that the film should’ve been longer than what we got because two hours and twenty-two minutes was far too short of a time to resolve these plot threads. It feels as though it has a do-over second act to make up for The Last Jedi and a half-hour-long third act. As underwhelming as Crystal Skull was, at least it had a definite three-act structure and was fairly comprehensible. The Rise of Skywalker is a capital-M Mess.

      This is definitely a film one cannot enjoy unless one turns off their brain. Naturally, I’m not especially fond of the practice; I, for one, like using my brain.

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  3. I liked how Palpatine one of the most powerful evil villains in movie history helpfully announced he was back and gave them a time limit before he took over the galaxy 🙂 Why not just stay silent and then boom announce yourself with the fleet?

    I completely agree with the above poster if I don’t think about it I can enjoy it but otherwise it’s a mess!

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    • Yeah, he’s like “Hey, everyone! I have this awesome plan for total galactic domination. But, it’s too awesome, so can you send someone – preferably a Jedi – to ruin it? Thanks.” Considering how meticulous he was in the prequels, that was highly jarring.

      This is a textbook “turn your brain off” film. If you do think about it, the narrative’s integrity shatters into a million pieces.

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    • That it does, Scott. That it does. It’s pretty much spelled out for you in the intro.

      All I can say is that I’m looking forward to your take on the sequel trilogy. As I said to AK, it has the exact opposite trajectory as the prequel trilogy in that it got off to a decent start only to crash and burn with the next two installments.

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      • Yeah, it’s really sad the more I think about it. I remember seeing The Force Awakens back in 2015, there were so many genuine cheers in the audience, and when it was over, I could distinctly hear someone say “see, that’s how you do a Star Wars movie.” Star Wars was magical again.

        It’s for that reason that I still don’t hold J.J. Abrams accountable for Rise of Skywalker’s many missteps (or maybe “utter madness” is more accurate a description). I know J.J. Abrams gets flak left and right on the internet, but I think the man knows how to make fun movies, and I will still stand that TFA was the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy (I would have placed it in the top three up until I saw Rise of Skywalker, knowing its storylines ultimately went nowhere tragically knocks it down a peg). Rian Johnson just completely torpedoed the sequel trilogy. You can’t have a three-part story where the second part repeatedly tells you “that first part you loved doesn’t matter at all.” IT brought it all to a dead halt, and J.J. was left to pick up the scraps, and the studio(s) – whether Lucasfilm, Disney, or both – clearly wanted him to double down on fan service. The man was put in an impossible-to-win scenario, all because Rian Johnson decided his “artistic vision” was more important than continuing the legacy of the story he was working on. Considering Rian Johnson was also going to get to make his own trilogy (funny we haven’t heard about that in a while), it makes even less sense why he would decide to stroke his ego and do whatever the hell he wanted with The Last Jedi, when he could have “done his own thing” with his own promised trilogy.

        And thanks, hopefully I’ll get back to my Star Wars reviews soon. Glad you’re looking forward to reading them. At the very least, they should make for some fun writing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hell, there were more genuine cheers in my screening of The Last Jedi than there were in The Rise of Skywalker. The audience in the latter was almost completely silent – even during the most shocking revelations. Even a kid who ended up talking in the first few minutes was a total taciturn for the rest of the runtime. Considering how lively the audience was all throughout the *prequel* trilogy, this was beyond tragic.

          Mr. Abrams’s film ended up worse than The Last Jedi, but I find it difficult to fault him considering that Mr. Johnson basically torched everything the former set up before tossing a lit firecracker into the hands of whoever was unfortunate enough to take up the reins next. The internet likes to blame Mr. Abrams left, right, and center for being an unambitious hack, but Mr. Johnson gave him nothing to work with. On top of that, the sheer amount of goodwill The Last Jedi lost, which was reflected in Solo bombing in the box office, ensured that Mr. Abrams was not in an ideal position to take risks. At all.

          I ended up reducing The Force Awakens to a 5/10 for the exact reason you described; it’s not worth recommending a story with a strong (or even strong-ish) first act if the rest of it is garbage. The press likes to blame the trainwreck that the sequel trilogy became on trolls, but that, to me, demonstrates their inability to take criticism (criticism of their sacred cows, specifically). The press also forgets that the trolls are a vast minority of the audience, and while I can’t completely discount the possibility that they poisoned the well, I just don’t think many people would’ve turned on the trilogy to this extent unless they thought maybe, just maybe, the detractors had a point. Indeed, as odious as many of them were (and are), I have to begrudgingly admit that they were making far better points at pretty much every possible juncture. Supporters, on the other hand, were only pointing at what The Last Jedi was doing in terms of progressiveness rather than whether or not the story was actually good (even if, as I mentioned before, The Last Jedi comes across as shockingly conservative and chauvinistic in practice). When pressed, the supporters’ most common defense seemed to be “turn off your brain and relax”. And if they were pressed further, they would attempt to lump reasonable detractors in with those idiots who bullied Kelly Marie Tran off of social media. If nothing else, their thesis wouldn’t explain why someone like me turned on the sequel trilogy considering that, according to them, I should be right there with the various left-leaning cultural critics praising The Last Jedi for being such a subversive, progressive masterpiece.

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  4. I agree that it was fun, but otherwise a mess. It felt like it was trying to be both the middle and final installment of the trilogy at once and as a result of so much packed into one movie there was no room to breathe. I think the only lingering shot of the film didn’t come until the very end when Rey was on Tatooine with the deliberate callback to Luke from ep 4.
    And I hated the unnecessary sexual tension between Rey and Kylo Ren.

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    • I can attribute that to The Last Jedi going completely against what was established in The Force Awakens. This means The Rise of Skywalker needed a do-over second act in addition to throwing in a third act to wrap everything up. That the film gives the audience no chance to breathe is a significant problem, though one that isn’t entirely Mr. Abrams’s fault.

      Also, I find it interesting how The Last Jedi was such a hit with progressives despite the sexual tension between Rey and Kylo because the idea of having the heroine develop feelings for the bad boy is amazingly chauvinistic –bordering dangerously close to misogyny. It’s weird that the Twilight novels were decried for doing exactly that (among other things), yet when The Last Jedi did it, it passed without comment. Even the people who would normally object to it were unusually quiet about the matter. The film does try to save face by insisting that Rey is attracted to Ben’s good traits, but it’s still very backwards-looking in terms of gender dynamics.

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  5. For possibly the first time ever, I entered the screening of a Star Wars film unexcited. My feelings on TLJ were aligned exactly with your review and it was all too obvious that somehow, and quite unbelievably, Disney had completely stitched themselves up by not working through overall story arcs and plot points across the whole trilogy during TFA pre-production.

    Despite this, popcorn in-hand, I settled into my seat as the Lucasfilm logo glittered across the big screen. And then, the opening crawl…

    “Wtf is this?” was my first thought as the crawl was used to tell us that Palpatine had already reintroduced himself across the galaxy. Huh?

    So… the marketing for this film, the trailer with Palpatines laugh at the end, the silly Fortnite Star Wars event etc. These are the things used to prepare us, the audience, for Palpatine’s return. Wouldn’t it be much better in the first part of this film for every ship in the galaxy to lose power and in the darkness and anxiety in these moments, across both First Order And Rebel ships, for us to hear the Emperor’s laugh and his own ‘reintroduction’?

    Rather than… y’know, the opening crawl just saying ‘Oh hi! So… the Emperors back’ *facepalm*.

    Anyway, this is a long comment already and I’ve only covered one point, but basically, I fully agree with your review once again 😂.

    One last point (as I’ve read it a few times in these comments); the phrase ‘enjoyable if you turn your brain off’ needs to be cast into a Sarlacc Pit and never spoke of again. 😂

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    • Yeah, it was so bad for me that I wasn’t that interested in seeing it opening weekend. I could tell other people felt similarly because the audience I saw it with was significantly less lively than the ones for The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi. The Last Jedi is where their inability to plan things out cost them, and The Rise of Skywalker was the extremely predictable aftermath.

      And yes, when I caught wind that Palpatine would return, I thought I read a spoiler, but no, he just shows up in the first ten minutes with no fanfare. You’re right; actually seeing Palpatine announce his return would’ve been far more effective. It probably still would’ve been stupid, but at least there would be a buildup to his return. I’m especially surprised that nobody finds it odd; they’re like “Huh, the emperor is back. Weird.”

      I think this is a film that should’ve been longer for the sheer amount of plot points they throw at us. As it stands, it moves through the plot way too fast and thinking about it for more than two seconds causes the entire thing to fall apart. And I too am not fond of the “turn your brain off” defense; especially once professional journalists and critics began using it in response to the criticism to The Last Jedi. I get that people not making logical decisions is a part of drama, but I find it’s more interesting when people do what they think is the right thing only for dramatic irony to take its course.

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  6. I think I’m actually the only plebeian I see in your comments section that liked the final movie a lot. It’s a rushed action-fest, make no mistake, but after The Last Jedi, I wanted that. I didn’t want a movie that attempted to deconstruct Star Wars. I just wanted fun. And for the most part, that’s what The Rise of Skywalker gave me. I liked Babu Frik, I enjoyed C-3PO’s whining, and the lightsaber fights were cool to look at. The only thing really missing was terribly corny dialogue that could later be used as awesome one-liners.

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    • I do yield that Mr. Abrams, generally speaking, went with the least bad options when presented with an array of universally bad ones. I will also admit that I walked out of the theater mostly satisfied. However, when I actually took a few seconds to think about it, I realized it was an even bigger mess than The Last Jedi. As such, I stand by what I said. It honestly is worse than any of the prequels because at least those had actual passion put into them; The Rise of Skywalker’s got nothing. It’s a pretty openly cynical product made in a time when the goodwill of the franchise was at an all-time low. I still kind of admire it for going back on a lot of what The Last Jedi did, but a mess is a mess.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Some great points, I think I’ll enjoy the Rise of Skywalker more on subsequent viewing but, yeah, as it stands the new trilogy as a whole if flawed and inconsistent and a shame since The Force Awakens got things off to a decent start.

    I’m looking forward to the streaming shows but the films definitely need a rethink and to do something fresh and with a stronger creative vision.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, you see, I had the exact opposite experience. I thought what I saw was better than The Last Jedi, but when I reflected on it, I realized it was a total disaster. While I think The Rise of Skywalker has more of an excuse for turning out that way, the sequel trilogy is a prime example of what happens when the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Because of this, I would argue the sequel trilogy as an actual trilogy is worse off than the prequels. The prequels were also a mess, but there was a clear idea of what was going on most of the time.

      Whatever the case may be, the executives at Lucasfilm and Disney need to acknowledge that the sequel trilogy was a failure if they are to have even the slightest chance of redeeming themselves. The amount of goodwill they let the franchise lose is truly unbelievable.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I wonder if having The Force Awakens follow beats from the original trilogy a little too closely it may have sparked the fire with subsequent directors trying to go too hard into breaking those shackles? Lucasfilm had to backtrack massively after The Last Jedi response and bring back JJ but the damage was done and there wasn’t a clear picture for how the trilogy as a whole was to play out. TLJ may have been redeemed a little thiugg if only Rey turned to the Dark Side… That subverting of the story would have been even more appropriate then. Seemed an opportunity wasted to me.

    Despite their many flaws, the prequels did do a much better job of presenting themselves as a whole. Considering the amount of resources and talent Disney has at their disposal it’s amazing to think they couldn’t at least achieve the same.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I definitely think you’re on to something there. I personally think it would’ve been really effective if The Force Awakens mirrored A New Hope only to successfully go off the rails with the next two installments. Unfortunately, that would require foresight and planning, and they were clearly making this up as they went, which cost them big time with The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. Journalists will tell you that trolls influenced the direction of the series, but it is far more accurate to conclude that Rian Johnson left the unfortunate person who had to take up the reins for Episode IX absolutely nothing to work with. And you absolutely came up with a better story right there. Rey becoming evil and teaming up with Kylo would’ve made things really interesting. But no, as deconstructive and cynical as Rian Johnson was, he didn’t have the guts to go that far.

      It’s interesting because I thought fans were nuts for insinuating The Force Awakens was worse than the prequels. Now, I completely agree with what you say; the prequels were themselves messes, but there was a singular artistic vision tying them together. Granted, it managed to be pretty contradictory to the original trilogy regardless when you consider what a petulant brat Anakin was, which makes Luke believing he used to be a good person ring hollow, but because of their position, they were also much easier to ignore. The sequel trilogy, on the other hand, was a mess with a capital “M”. It’s what happens when the right hand doesn’t cooperate with the left.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Man… That’s so much more interesting.

        If the prequel trilogy was about watching Anakin gradually be seduced by and eventually turning to the Dark Side…

        And the Original Trilogy having us follow Luke as he stays true to the Light Side (and ultimately even manages to turn his father)…

        The Sequel Trilogy could have been a combination of both of these. We see Rey seduced by the Dark Side through the Emperors influence, whilst at the same time Kylo is brought back to the Light through his parents and Lukes influence. The ultimate theme: the balance of the Force.

        Yep… That’s the trilogy this should have been. What a waste.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I will admit it was mostly enjoyable when I was watching it. The problem is that once I took two seconds to think about it, I realized it was a complete mess. Sorry, but the fact that the directors clearly didn’t plan anything out in advance really cost the sequel trilogy big time. Critics will tell you that The Rise of Skywalker is where everything went wrong, but I firmly believe both it and The Last Jedi to be failures.

      Liked by 1 person

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