We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the old Clone Wars, Grievous is trying to persuade Kenobi that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes his multi-armed form and says, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”. I suppose we all thought that about Disney, one way or another.
Jeez, could you imagine if I remained so serious? Why do I feel that people forgot that Star Wars is supposed to be dumb fun and not a fervent religion? I honestly consider myself a Star Wars agnostic at this point and find both sides to be getting increasingly absurd. The intrinsic value of Star Wars is this intangible “it factor”, an ability to imbue morals, create a voyeuristic action-adventure journey of heroism, and explore an infinite galaxy of bizarre creativity and endless possibilities. Star Wars as a franchise is something that can be appreciated at all ages, whether as a starry-eyed child or the wise adult. However, I can take a step back and when somebody says, “blatantly awkward dialogue, simplistic conflicts and narratives, frequent inconsistencies/plot holes/ ill-defined rules of how things work, and just constant pandering to the lowest common denominator”. I would go ahead and reply “well, you’re not wrong”.
The Rise of Skywalker reminds me a lot of this other essay/write up I had that will probably eventually be posted on here. If I may be as pretentious as to quote myself (it’s not self-indulgent, it’s an Easter egg); in this essay I was discussing when Scooby Doo became a Warner Bros. property and how the abundance of marketing and general exposure helped elevate the brand to transcend beyond the limits of television media. However, when concluding I reference how nobody really gives a crap about the Scooby-Doo series anymore, at least not to the same degree, and in speculating why that’s so I said:
“However, in becoming an event, the Scooby Doo franchise might have suffered in the long run. It appears mega-merchandising is unsustainable in the long run and all events must end at some point. What exists now is only speculation of what happened? Did spreading the brand thin across licensees lose what was at the franchise’s core along the way, did over exposure eventually wane on the audience’s desire for more, or did just a myriad of poor decisions expose the fallibility of the franchise?”
Disney Era Star Wars has certainly been a movie-going event for the history books, but with this film it does mark and end of that particular event. I’m not saying it’s all doom and gloom for either of these franchises, from what I’ve heard the Mandalorian is a refreshing take in the same fashion Mystery Incorporated was for Scooby. With this last film it felt for me, that The Rise of Skywalker proved the price to pay to become a marketing event, rather than a story. This is no longer the tale spawned from a Renegade George Lucas, a man who had a wild imagination and the passion to explore his novel idea into a compelling story of heroes and space exploration. Now it is a soulless, mediocre, pandering, safe, transparent, and manipulative cash grab painted in a sleek coat of talented actors and dazzling modern effects.
Yet. Unlike most people… I just didn’t care all too much to begin with. That’s why despite having problems galore, I learned to stop worrying and love the Chinese box-office bomb.
The Opening Crawl Made Me Giggle
I think everyone wondered how the hell Palpatine was going to shoehorn his way into this trilogy. I thought it would be kind of difficult to magically resurrect him in the third film of a trilogy that didn’t foreshadow it in the slightest, but it actually ended up being super easy, barely an inconvenience. We explain it by not explaining it at all (a common trend you’ll see) and you just got to accept it because someone has to be the baddie and it ain’t going to be our female empowerment character, and it ain’t going to be fan-favorite redeemable hunky boy.
When I heard Palpatine was giving a calling to the universe all I could think was, imagine Palpatine being presumably dead for like 30 years and then on the space radio your broadcast gets interrupted and you hear Ian McDiarmid’s voice going “GOOOOOOOOOOD MORNIN’ Aldraan!”.
Palpatine’s evil lair/mother’s basement is actually visually spectacular, and a nice ominous atmosphere. You really get to enjoy the splendor of it as long as you don’t think about: how he survived his fall from ROTJ, where did he get a cult like following from, how did he get hooked up the ink machine from Teen Titans Trouble in Tokoyo/what Nagato from Naruto used, who feed him grapes for three decades so that he lived up till this point, why didn’t Snoke just send out the Knights of Canon fodder to Capture Rey anytime in-between when she was separated from her parents till before she was trained in the ways of the Jedi. You’d think after you tried this exact same plan 30 years ago you would have adapted and maybe, not have your evil scheme completely rely on whether or not you can convert a Jedi into a Sith (Palpatine really is running the final order as well as he’s currently running the Dallas Cowboys).
Palpatine’s return seems emblematic of most of the villains of the decade which have been shallow motivation, super evil guy; at least he didn’t shoot an evil doomsday laser into the sky…. nevermind. I don’t think there was anything they could have done as Kylo Ren is on the path of redemption and really couldn’t heel turn that quickly, Snoke even if we brought him back, nobody is going to take him seriously after how weak, stupid, and silly he came across in The Last Jedi, and to bring in a completely new villain into the fray would have been undeveloped. Personally, they should have just brought back Count Dooku in some goofy sleepy hallow fashion. You might say that sounds ridiculous, and that Christopher Lee died four years ago, but both of those things are on par with this movie.
I Know How to Perfectly Describe This Film
If someone wanted a very succinct and quick way to describe this flick, I got the answer. Rise of Skywalker is “please say sike” the movie. We kind of knew that a lot from The Last Jedi was going to be retconned to escape the corner Rian Johnson crashed his X-wing into; what was more jarring was the film retcons everything that happened in this very movie. Shall we run down all the things that waste time happening just to within no more than 30 minutes say, “just kidding”.
- Chewbacca’s death (we clearly saw him get onto the ONE ship, how the f—k did he get on “another ship”, teleportation?)
- C3PO losing his memory (I can’t believe people thought the one last look at my friends line was sentimental… prior to this movie he had less than 5 minutes with all of these characters. You were more friends with your high school lunch lady then C3PO with the new characters)
- Finn confessing his feelings for Rey
- Power ranger lady and I’m going to call him Jub Jub dying in a planetary explosion
- General Hux turning good
- Evil Rey
- Kylo Ren stabbed to death
- Kylo Ren’s ultimatum that Rey has to come with him to visit Palpatine (why didn’t he just destroy his Tesseract? He was already there, did he think he was going to forget?)
- Palpatine striking nearly all the ships with lightning (I count this one because despite research telling me that modern planes can endure lightning strikes, we are dealing with magic lightning from a zombie man’s fingers. Even if we are to believe all the space crafts would act like you just took the batteries out of them, why did his ships stop shooting at the disabled ships)
- Kylo Ren dies a 2nd time (3 strikes and you’re out apparently)
- Rey’s death
This movie is just blatantly allergic to any consequences, I don’t think we are even playing by the same rules of the force anymore.
So “The Force” has evolved from a spiritual nirvana/enlightenment, to Genjutsu, to literal force manipulation to push and pull objects, to tiny microscopic life forms, into whatever the fuck I want it to do. That includes being able to stop ships in mid-flight, being able to grab objects out of your Freddy Kruger nightmares, and Full Metal Alchemist soul energy that can be used to heal all wounds, resurrect the dead, or gain unlimited power!
It’s kind of sad to think that Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood established how souls work in their universe and how it connects to lore and all the ways it works fine in that universe… and how over the span of 64 episodes the ability to reverse consequences is used far less than in this singular film. This film that is already part of an established lore and trilogy that had never featured any sort of healing powers whatsoever. When literally anything can happen to write yourself out of any situation it really makes you wonder why any outcome, they use is interesting. It’s so overpowered and convoluted it starts to feel like these movies now operate on little sibling logic who will just bypass any rules or logic they don’t like or don’t care for.
The Grossest Pandering
The Rise of Skywalker in the bluntest terms is the Star Wars movie that everyone deserved. Disney is almost taking everything the fans wanted and distorting them like a wicked genie. Some fans wanted Rey to not be a Mary Sue, so we show her doing an American Ninja Warrior in the Woods (HAPPY?) and clearly define that yes she is OP but her conflict is the inner conflict and responsibility that comes with pretty much being the messiah. The scenes where we explored the inner conflicts of these characters are all rather good. All of which oddly played out the same (former cast member has a heart to heart with our conflicted current protagonist) but these moments are few and far between.
Some fans wanted diversity of the characters, you know more ethical and sexual representation. Congratulations, they are all Tokens. Oh, and I mean every last one of them. If anything the token from the original series actually does more in the scheme of the entire trilogy than any of the new characters. Let’s break it down:
Rose Tico: It almost feels Kelly Marie Tran is only here out of contractual obligation, where I’m sure most of us can agree the treatment she got from “fans” was abhorrent and reprehensible, her treatment in this film is almost just as gross. Way to prove all those death threat writers that their voice matters, really truly spineless moves here to reward sycophantic behavior. I’m not going to lie, Rose’s character was awful and unnecessary that I certainly didn’t miss her inclusion, but to constantly tease her conclusion and say once that she’s busy with chores, then again later, she can’t come along practically because she’s worthless and there’s nothing she could do in the situation. If that wasn’t rude enough, let’s have an obvious surrogate, replace her and be Finn’s 2nd space horse riding buddy.
Jannah: Fans: “We want a black woman in Star Wars”, Disney Exec: “She’ll have 8 minutes of screen time, and the personality of a chalkboard”. Fans: “Thanks, we love it”.
Unnamed Lesbian A and Unnamed Lesbian B: According to IMDb these characters did have names, but as someone who isn’t going to see this film until self-induced Stockholm syndrome convinces me that I’m in love with it… I sure as heck ain’t going to know it. I can’t believe anyone who wanted LGBT+ visibility meant this and the fact that anyone finds this a celebratory thing is rather bewildering. You’re being used as sort of a PR prop; doesn’t it feel kind of gross to admit that they could have just replaced these characters with a mailbox with a trans flag on it and it would be treated the same. IDK, I get that people want to be acknowledged but I felt that this moved the goalpost in the wrong direct that as long as you do the bare minimum to earn some click-bait you’ve earn your woke-ness card. At least I’ve seen others agree with this sentiment as well.
Finn and Poe: Yes, I think that even the talents of John Boyega and Oscar Isaac were wasted on mere token inclusions. In case it wasn’t clear I want to affirm; token characters are not necessarily bad characters or completely pointless characters but ones that “broaden the appeal by presenting identifiable characters and avoid criticism from those groups” (TV Tropes). There are some amazing characters that are considered to be Tokens: Mr. Moseby (The Suite Life of Zach and Cody), Andre Harris (Victorious), and Titus Andromedon (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) to name a few.
Finn is maybe the most wasted character in this whole trilogy because he had a large part in the beginning only to really just become the “black guy in Star Wars” which would have been awesome if it was to the reverse effect. The fact that Finn becomes just a guy who shoots at storm troopers, and yells at people not to do things is kind of a waste of what could have been. “But K, JJ Abrams said he was force sensitive”, great I say Rey has a giant purple elephant named Dikembe Mutombo… it’s not in the movie so it doesn’t count. Might as well be fanfic for all I can say.
It Just Doesn’t Feel Real
I give Disney a lot of credit because this film literally comes across as though an A.I. was given the list of demands from the masses and what they wanted from The Rise of Skywalker. It turns out, all of our ideas suck, at least when unfocused and underdeveloped.
Jenny Nicholson went over a treatment from one of the Star Wars novelists Alan Dean Foster, who had an absurd concept of Luke fighting a series of Snoke clones, then I saw the Snoke clones and almost burst into laughter.
Mike Stoklasa on his satirical Nerd Crew Podcast jokingly said the emperor was going to come back with a million-star destroyers and stab Baby Yoda with a magic star crystal. While these were absurd fan theories, were they really much different than what really happened, they both ended up being partially true.
The fans wanted Chewie to get the medal he never got from A New Hope. What does he do to earn a medal? Watch all his friends die. Good enough? I want C3PO to have glowing red eyes and be an evil Sith droid like a bad Creepypasta.
I want answers to JJ Abrams mystery box? We got answers alright, but at what cost?
I want Reylo, let my ship sail! The ship will sail, but it’s the ship Anna and Elsa’s parent took off on. Nothing says romantic like trying to figure out if necrophilia is an option or if you should give you’re life away for a smooch. Kylo Ren is truly the Sasuke Uchiha of this trilogy, the cool badass edgy boy who flip flops constantly and makes you wonder why this whiny jerk is so liked by everyone. Kylo Ren and Sasuke are both interesting characters in terms of their journey through trauma and adversity and have interesting skills and battle instincts that I see why people ignore just how irredeemable they are most of the time. I don’t quite get why everyone wants them to be their boyfriend… to each their own.
I just keep thinking, who wanted this? Why was the Batman Vs Superman guy allowed to write for this movie? Why do people not call out Disney for such blatant crafting of teaser trailer material? Elsa jumping the wave, Rey jumping over the ship was really organic and didn’t feel like we brought everything to a screeching holt just to have a cool thing that spoils nothing happen, right guys.
That’s the big problem with The Rise of Skywalker, it is just a collection of things happening. Not things motivated by character or even plot but just the desire for them to happen. Some people are okay with this, as long as I get my “cool things happening” quota fulfilled, I’ll love the movie to death. Others desire structure and story so this hodgepodge of cool stuff and shitty ideas is an absolute mess.
To me, The Rise of Skywalker is a mystery flavored lollipop; and it’s got a weird flavor to it. I would never seek out this flavor if I knew what it is but the nice wrapper caused such intrigue and mystery that I just had to find out what it was; and see what my friends also thought about this strange flavor. I never found that I was indulging in these because I wanted to taste this flavor, I just wanted to know what they did indeed taste like. I guess you could say I’m a sucker for these suckers, and maybe there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as you know at the end of the day you’re just being manipulated into eating a weird tasting lollipop and not storming the beaches of Normandy of a petty culture war. Extended metaphors, neat huh?
At the end of the day, different strokes for different folks. Don’t like this Star Wars film there’s 8 other ones, hundreds of novelizations and comics, and all the toys so you can make up your own story. I think the one thing we can all agree about Star Wars is that it has been a shared experience. Whether we are sharing it with friends, family, extreme internet personalities or complete assholes it’s been fun to share, listen and express such opinions from across the world.
So I end this unnecessarily long rant just by sharing some of my favorite reviews around and I’d encourage you to go check these people out. Chances are they give more straightforward answers than I do, so you’ll probably like what at least one of them has to say:
Funny story, one of The Future of The Force people wanted to know if I wanted to potentially write for them… I think I just blew my audition. I don’t know, if all Star Wars reviews are a desperate plea for attention at least I have a sense of humor about it.
Thanks for stopping by, send me your death threats in the comment box below. As always, may the force be with you.