Director: J.J. Abrams
Staring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Oscar Issac
Release Date: December 19, 2019

Star Wars: Episode XIV – The Rise of Skywalker as a movie is one of the laziest, unimaginative and most audience-coddling movie going experiences one can endure. The story wreaks of Disney’s poor planning, highlighted by the reinsertion of an old recognizable villain who exists only to be a scapegoat and crutch. The Rise of Skywalker puts the Skywalker saga out to pasture with a whimper, reminding fans of the Star Wars franchise and Hollywood itself that a lack of conviction brings cataclysmic problems.

The experience watching The Rise of Skywalker reminded me of a political debate. You have the candidates (the show runners) on stage saying everything that you want to hear to quell your nerves. How they will address what you want and handle problems you’ve had with care and appreciation. These same people are avoiding the tough questions and stealthy avoiding the consequences of decisions made by those in power before them. They treat the audience like they are children, feeding only the delectable tid-bits that they’ll want to eat up.

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Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley as Kylo Ren and Rey

That’s how The Rise of Skywalker approaches its story. The crew of writers took the stance (whether be encouraged by higher-ups or not) to treat this conclusion as a feeding tube of nostalgia. The only problem is that you must earn that fan service. You can’t build something to simply pay homage and reference the past without a strong trunk of an original screenplay to let those branches of satisfaction stem from.

After the controversy of Star Wars: Episode XVIII – The Last Jedi, one of the main questions surrounding The Rise Of Skywalker would be how J.J. Abrams and crew would try and blend its predecessors risks with the obvious motive of fan lassoing.

Here is the answer: a complete and utter cover up. A retcon.

This approach was illustrated with the re-introduction of Emperor Palpatine. Rather than dabble in the grey-area that Rian Johnson painted, Abrams immediately made things black and white again. A paint bucket of “uhh no thank you” was used to make things purely good versus evil. No longer was there room for philosophical debates. In other words, the conglomerate in charge of Star Wars didn’t like the direction of The Last Jedi and decided it was time to just throw enough familiarity at the wall for the fans gorge themselves on.

Death Star

Seeping between the obvious motivation for The Rise Of Skywalker, there is an attempt at a coherent single-movie story. Attempt is the key word, because there is no flow to what unfurls. As the audiences watch Rey, Finn, Poe and crew travel about the universe, there is little to nothing of aesthetic awareness.

What made the original Star Wars trilogy so strong was that it took time immersing you in the environment. Think about Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope on Tatooine. Luke speeding in his cruiser looking for R2-D2, and that same scene-setting concept when Obi-Wan Kenobi is with them on the way to Mos Eisley. Or again on Tatooine when C-3PO and R2-D2 initially land and there is just a minute of them trying to traverse desert landscape. There is no such appreciation for the spacious atmosphere in The Rise Of Skywalker. There are scenes of wilderness and environment, but there is always something going on like action and or constant dialogue. There is never quiet tranquility; never a moment to breath in the Star Wars mood.

Look at Disney+’s The Mandalorian for how to establish a world that people love being immersed in. People want to live within Star Wars themselves. They want to be able to breath it in and live within it. Once you start confuddling that idea with over-plotting and over-thinking, then you’ve started losing the perception battle.

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Pedro Pascal as Mando

That rushing isn’t limited to just the aesthetic. The story itself has moments that are meant to act like a gut punch, but instead they are shadow punches that don’t even make you flinch. Everything that is requisite to telling the actual story is cut together as if you are watching a movie clip-cut version of a video game on YouTube. As minimal cinematic story telling as possible with action intermingled.

The Rise Of Skywalker is a lot like the final season of Game Of Thrones. So much build up amidst worry and confrontation. Both suffer the same fate of trying to stuff too much in and give too many people the ending they thought they wanted. Both iconic stories seemed to suffer from lack of planning and foresight for their culminating moments, and in the end the story and characters within it suffered.

Speaking specially for The Rise Of Skywalker, the supposed-to-be moving moments roll over like a dead bug in the wind. There is nothing to pay attention too because it’s impossible to get emotional about the characters with the final third of their saga being so poorly planned. But the lack of fruition isn’t just this one adventure. Because The Rise Of Skywalker immediately takes white out to its predecessors story choices, the same happens for its character building moments. If The Rise Of Skywalker can’t pay honest respect for The Last Jedi, why should the audience pay respect to that part of their journey?

The way Episode XIV unravels results in much less appreciation for the talents involved with the movie. Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Oscar Issac try as much as they can to bring some personality to the movie. Unfortunately they just don’t have a lot to work with. The best performance of the movie is Anthony Daniels as C-3PO…yea, you read that right. The protocol droid has spunk and personality that brings the most of the few smiles in The Rise Of Skywalker.

C3PO
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO

This is a PSA for Disney and the Star Wars conglomerate: you will not be able to please everyone. It is impossible. They worst thing you can do to your billionaire dollar cultural media conglomerate is to start making content that’s bad.

The Rise Of Sykwalker is the worst screenplay of the entire Star Wars Skywalker saga. It tells the worst story, and while the action and acting raises it above a pair of the prequels, there is no denying that it’s an immensely disappointing finale to a heroic journey that deserved so much more.

STANKO RATING: D

“Star Wars: Episode XIV – The Rise Of Skywalker” IMDB
“Star Wars: Episode XIV – The Rise Of Skywalker” Rotten Tomatoes

 

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