Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker Review

I’m going to get into spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and you’re planning on it, come back later and see if your opinions match mine. I have strong opinions, but an open mind. I usually love talking about Star Wars with people, so hit me up!

And before you go, I want to throw out a quick note that I finished the first draft of Synthetic Dreams a couple of weeks ago. It’s currently a little over 100,000 words. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s going to take a couple of drafts before it’s presentable, but I think it’s something special.

Also, if you’re bailing on this post early, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday!

Now let’s talk about Star Wars.

** Spoilers Below **

In Rise of Skywalker, we learn that Emperor Palpatine has returned from the dead, Rey is his granddaughter, and nothing makes a lick of sense.

At this point in time, I do not like this movie. It was visually stunning, but a sloppy mess in every other respect. Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley did great. There was a few moments that were cool. Other than that, it was in a mad rush to deliver shallow fan service to people that I don’t believe are actual fans.

What did I find so sloppy? Let’s get into it.

In the beginning, Kylo Ren is kicking ass in order to find one of two Sith triangle thingies that will enable him to navigate this weird region of space to arrive at a Sith planet. The point is, not just anyone can go to this Sith planet. It’s dangerous and mysterious.

Kylo gets there and finds Palpatine in the flesh. Not a Force ghost or anything. He’s shabby and messed up, croaking and laughing, telling Kylo that’s been pulling the strings the whole time. That he made Snoke and pretended to be Vader. If he had a mustache, he would have twirled it.

So, for anyone upset about how Snoke was treated… are you happy? They even showed a vat where Snoke-like beings were being grown. You wanted to know Snoke’s backstory? Here you go!

Honestly, I’m not bothered for the explanation of Snoke. I don’t care about him! His presence in the story was exactly like Emperor Palpatine’s, and he had exactly as much backstory as Palpy for how he got to be an evil raisin, which is none. Neither needed it, so dropping this little side note feels like an effort to appease a noisy subset of the fan base.

But I’m getting sidetracked, and I’m not sure anyone else even noticed all the stuff about Snoke. That includes the fans for which it was targeted.

The point is, Palpy is back in the flesh, miraculously, and he’s living on this Sith planet where he’s been building a brand new fleet of star destroyers, each equipped with a weapon capable of destroying planets. And we’re not talking 5 or 10 of these ships. There were dozens, maybe hundreds, on screen.

So… wait.

Who built these things? Who’s operating these ships? Where did the material come from? These ships rise up from this remote and treacherous Sith planet that you need a special pyramid just to get to. How did these ships come into being? How did we get enough people here to run them? How can there be so many people involved in this, and yet this place is still a secret?

I like stories to make me ask questions, but I’m these are questions I’m probably not supposed to ask. There are no answers. Palpy brought himself back to life off screen, somehow, and he conjured a huge and deadly fleet to threaten the galaxy… somehow. And there are people running these ships… somehow.

Meanwhile, our heroes are rushing around and quipping, and I’m not sure they’re actually doing anything that matters. A spy has informed them that Palpy’s back, and Rey knows from sacred texts and Luke’s notes about the pyramid thingies that can take you to the Sith world. So they rush for a McGuffin, almost die, Chewie’s captured, then killed by Rey(!)… but not really, because this isn’t a movie about taking chances or telling something new. It’s more about throwing disconnected plot elements at the screen and offering spectacle as distractions while hoping the audience doesn’t notice all the raging gaps.

I’m going to jump around a little bit, because I feel like the points I’m trying to make are starting to sound like baseless attacks. There are a few different McGuffings, including two pyramid thingies and a weird knife. The knife points out the location of one of these triangles… but don’t think about this too much, because you’ll quickly realize that the knife would only work if you’re standing in the exact place where the ridges in the blade would line up with the ridges of the remains of the Death Star… and why would someone go to all the trouble of making a dagger like this again? And…

Focus, Brian.

Rey runs off to get this pyramid thingie — she runs off a lot during the run of this movie — and has a conflict with Kylo Ren. He destroys the thingie, they have a tense fight which is actually effective, Leia dies at exactly the right moment to distract Kylo, and Rey runs him through with a lightsaber.

This conflict works for me. The story could have gone in a couple of different directions, and I’m okay with the one they chose for this moment. This is one of the highlights of the movie for me.

Rey leaves Kylo Ren behind, stealing his ship and flying off to the planet where Luke had been hiding out. Luke shows up, they talk, and he sets her right. There’s a lot in this scene I like, too.

But now we’re back to the sloppiness. Rey is convinced that she needs to go and confront Palpatine, and Luke tells her that she has all that she requires. Then she remembers that she stole Kylo’s ship, and his pyramid thingie is in it! Now she can go meet her destiny using Luke’s X-wing!

However, something I failed to mention previously…

Earlier, in a scene they showed in one of the trailers where she jumps up with a lit lightsaber as Kylo’s TIE fighter is about to run her down, Rey destroys Kylo’s ship. He walks out of the wreckage and they have a bit of a showdown, but she definitely destroyed his ship.

So later, when she steals his ship and finds the thingie inside… it doesn’t add up. He could have taken it from the wreckage of his other ship and put it in the new one, but that would have happened entirely off screen, and this is a plot point. They focused on this to make it seem clever, but since Rey destroyed the ship that probably had the McGuffin, it doesn’t feel clever at all. It feels sloppy and stupid.

I didn’t care for the relationships. Finn ghosted Rose for Rey, but was too scared to actually tell her how he felt, so that whole thread goes unresolved. Rey kissed Kylo/Ben for some reason.

Oh, and Palpy. Everything about Palpy was unsatisfying. If he just kept his mouth shut, his plan would have worked. Rey would have chopped up his bits and he would have possessed her and ruled on the throne. And when the hell did Palpy make a baby? Why didn’t he try to possess his child instead of his grandchild?

I’ve focused pretty heavily on what are effectively plot holes, and I’m usually fairly forgiving of that sort of thing. Most plot holes don’t matter. The ones I’m talking about bug me because so much of the story rests on them.

Let’s talk about themes. What was this movie trying to say? One of the themes is that together, we are stronger. Sure enough, whenever Rey runs off by herself, something terrible happens. It’s when Kylo/Ben shows up at the end to stand with her that they are able to rise up and be victorious over evil. The Rebels would have lost if the rest of the Galaxy hadn’t shown up at this impossibly difficult to reach location to shut down The Final Order. We are stronger together is a consistent theme in the movie.

So why is the last scene of the movie Rey going off on her own to Tatooine, without her friends, to bury Luke and Leia’s lightsabers?

Parting Thoughts…

Maybe I’ll enjoy the movie more in the future. I don’t know. The more I think about it, the more flaws stick out to me. There were some good moments, and then there were some moments that were almost good.

I’m sure this movie will make some people happy. Maybe I’m being too nitpicky and too harsh. I wanted to have a good time. I just didn’t.

If you enjoyed it, great. I don’t want to yuck your yum.

I’m reminded a little of when I went to see Star Trek: Generations. I could not get over the stupidity of the plot. I still can’t get over it. I hope I’ll like Rise of Skywalker more in time, but since I never forgave Generations, I’m not holding my breath.

2 thoughts on “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker Review

  1. Here are some spoilery observations, having left the non-spoiler ones on the Facebook thread.

    I can understand from an executive producer’s point of view, why they would think bringing in Palpatine was a good idea. But it was a little too late, and a little too blunt. There are tons of ways they could have done this, I even liked some of the elements of it, like using Sith ‘sorcery’ to bring him back, etc. But he would have worked far better as the Sith Lord ghosts have been used in the comics and novels, a voice, a mental presence, threatening to take over those that they are attempting to influence.

    On the issue of Snoke, the big difference between him and the Emperor in the original trilogy is… that now we have an original trilogy, and a prequel. Those films set up the universe, when the Emperor was set up, there was no predefined status quo we knew about. Snoke comes out of nowhere, in a story that has already gone somewhere, that required I think, better handling than he was given. Again, you show us a gun, you better use it. Of the things that I found fault at in TLJ, this was one of the highly rated ones. He ended up being rather inconsequential.

    I read a review that had some points I agree with. My biggest issue with the ‘It was Palpatine behind it all along!’ is that there was no actual set up to this. There was no foreshadowing, nothing TFA that pointed us this way. It makes it feel like this was inserted to try force this new trilogy to tie up to the Skywalker Saga, but it misses the point of what the Skywalker Saga was about.

    Rey and the rest should have got their own trilogy. The idea of a Palpatine being heroic is not bad, is just not the story of the Skywalker family. Ben was kind of pushed to the side, in a way that made the whole trilogy not feel about the Skywalkers. Unlike Vader’s, his redemption arc did not feel earned and that kiss at the end was just weird. I saw it coming and cringed and was like, please don’t.

    There are some things I’m satisfied with. I’m satisfied with the fact that we got a last trilogy within our lifetime, or at least mine. Star Wars was such a big part of my growing up, and my identity that seeing it continue truly makes me happy. Rogue One easily became my favorite Star Wars film after ROTJ and ESB, and the Mandalorian has been excellent so far. So I do look forward to the future of Star Wars, and hope many more stories within that universe get to be told.

  2. Sadly, Star Wars lost me 2 movies ago. I became a fan 40 years ago with you. I even liked Jar Jar. That being said, I do think he would’ve had a much longer life and made more sense with Bugs Bunny and friends.

    I’ve listened to a couple of die hard fans talk about the last 2 movies excitedly. I shake my head because nothing resembles Star Wars, for me.

    I am glad that you’re still enjoying them.

    Merry Christmas!

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