The original Star Wars trilogy is one of the best movie franchises of all time. It’s remarkable for the sense of wonder it instilled in its fans. It kick-started a wave of movies with incredible special effects and mythic storytelling. And even though those films are over forty years old, they still hold up. Unfortunately, we can’t say that for the modern movies. The prequel trilogy missed the mark in a lot of ways, and the sequel trilogy that just ended, didn’t care about the rich history of Star Wars.
I wrote a scathing review of Episode VII when it came out because it was a terrible story that tried to appease fans by simply rehashing what had already been done in the original trilogy (Episode IV – VI). I didn’t write a review of Episode VIII, but I really should have. I enjoyed that film. It had its problems but it is definitely the best one of the modern trilogy.
I avoided all spoilers and went into The Rise of Skywalker with an open mind. I wanted to enjoy it and get transported back to the feelings I had when watching the early films. The first two thirds of The Rise of Skywalker managed to do that, but the last act of the film is where everything fell apart. Warning, there are spoilers ahead.
My biggest criticism of the film is that it threw out everything about how The Force works. It’s not supposed to let you reanimate the dead or pass objects through great distances. I could have forgiven those missteps if they served the story or showed that these characters were extremely gifted. Instead, they were used to introduce a romantic plot that made absolutely no sense.
And new Death Stars, seriously? Except this time the weapons are small enough to be mounted on starships. And when one is used to obliterate an entire planet, it doesn’t hit any kind of emotional mark. Worse still, the fleet of these terrible ships is immobilized and can’t leave the atmosphere of the planet without a special antennae that is easily destroyed with a coordinated attack. Sound familiar?
This was a train-wreck of a movie in all aspects of the word. It didn’t bring closure to the new heroes or the original cast. It tried though. I appreciated that Chewbacca finally got the medal he was denied in A New Hope. I liked that the final battle brought us back to Endor, but I can’t figure out how the Death Star that was destroyed in Return of the Jedi is still in tact on the planet. The wreckage of it was a cool image, but Rey finding an artifact in the Imperial Chamber side room, that was a bit of a stretch.
They totally missed the heartwarming story of Kylo Ren turning from the dark side and becoming Ben Solo once again. It would have been perfect. The movie showed how both Han and Leia never stopped trying to reach him. In fact, in one scene, Leia did just that. It was a great scene that only ended in his death. But through Rey’s unnatural command of the Force, she heals him completely. He returns the favour in the final battle, but she can’t save him, in return again.
The final kick in the pants for Star Wars fans is when Rey gets adopted by the Force Ghosts of Luke and Leia and proudly announces her new heritage. This could have been a Ben Solo moment. He deserved it.
I walked away hating this movie. It could have been so much more.
For further reading, check out Calvin’s great post over at The Cave of Cool.