Last weekend, I crawled out of my basement to see Episode IX and here are my two cents on the movie and the unholy trinity as devised by J. J. Abrams. As you can imagine, The Rise of Skywalker review contains some spoilers.
On Episodes VII & VIII
Before I get into this whole disappointing experience, I will briefly reflect on Episodes VII and VIII. In short, they are derivative and unoriginal, stuffed with member berries, and, overall, a huge dump on the previous movies and old canon.
Return of the Jedi ended with the victory of the Rebel Alliance, the Emperor was dead, balance was brought to the Force and a bright future was on the horizon for the whole galaxy. Notwithstanding the books that followed Episode VI and the whole Yuuzhan Vong invasion, we had a fresh start. Kinda.
And yet, in Force Awakens we see that nothing has actually changed since Episode IV. The Empire has been rebranded as the First Order, some dude called Snook rules and it’s still a perilous time for the Rebellion…
Han Solo turns out to be a terrible father and husband and dies a pointless death, Leia still fights the good fight using the same old methods, Luke – the symbol of hope and optimism, fucks off to be a hermit for some reason cuz Jedi apparently give up on people and causes. Kylo Ren is the next big thing on the Dark Side, though he throws fits like prepubescent little bitch.
And then there is Rey. A girl with no past, no training and crazy skills, and a major movie plot sized hole in her parentage.
Snook is defeated with disappointing ease, Kyle Ren is Emperor (kinda), Luke dies a pointless death as well. A few more Death Stars are destroyed, and a couple of comic relief droids and weak side plots later, the stage is set for the misnamed Episode IX, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Palpatine is alive and well and living in Exegol
Yeah, apparently Darth Vader, or rather Anakin Skywalker did not kill Palpatine. Now, J. J. Abrams did justify that by referencing a dialogue between Anakin and Palpatine in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Allowing the plausibility of this justification, I still do not think it holds in this particular instance due to its larger implications for the Star Wars narrative. Indeed, Palpatine could have acquired the ability of his old master, Darth Plagueis. However, this satanas ex machina moment disrupts the storyline and overall holistic integrity of the saga.
What Star Wars is Supposed to be About
Pretentious and subjective though it may seem, I see Star Wars as basically a saga about prophecy, doom and rebirth (or redemption) told as a story about a particular, dysfunctional family – the Skywalkers.
We have a prophecy of a person who will restore balance to the Force. That is what makes this story epic, the whole Universe is at stake. And how this person does it, influenced by various agents – friends, family, enemies, is what makes the narrative so fun and awesome. But the mission is what gives it gravitas.
Balance was restored at the end of Return of the Jedi with Anakin’s redemption and the death of the Emperor. This ties together the original trilogy and the prequels.
And now what?
The Rise of Skywalker or the Fall of Star Wars
The concept of the Chosen One, Balance and the Skywalker destiny loses all sense with Palpatine resurfacing. By reviving the Emperor, these plot points and the overall storyline blows up in the flatulent cacophony of a burst whoopee cushion.
It gets worse, though.
As Rey turns out to be the Emperor’s granddaughter, suddenly the role of the Skywalker family is lost. Star Wars turns out to be the story of Palpatine and his offspring. This feels unnatural and artificial. It is not what Stars Wars is about.
Apart from those narrative-related objections – or, dare I say, sins, we have a myriad of unresolved plot points and character arcs.
Throughout the Rise of Skywalker, we are introduced to concepts such as a Dyad in the Force – a phenomenon, similar to a Force-bond, describing two Force-sensitive beings who collectively shared the power of one individual, connecting them across space and time. It turns out that it sounds more important than it really is, as Kylo Ren dies not 20 minutes after establishing that he and Rey are a force dyad.
They are a pair connected in the Force by destiny, transcending time and space. And then, they are not.
Then we have the voices of the Jedi past… Rey tries and tries to open up to their voices and despite logical expectations that this should bear some relevance on the plot later, it doesn’t. She can apparently not only heal with the Force, but can pretty much bring back people from the dead. Lovely that the J. J. Abrams waited for conveniently sized plot hole in the second half of the last movie to reveal this important skill – which Rey can perform expertly, without any training.
Kylo Ren flips the Light Side switch in his head and is instantly redeemed. The ease with which this is done completely undermines and undervalues Anakin’s redemption.
And what is the point of the Knights of Ren, I hear you asking. Well, there isn’t any point to them. The Knights of Ren are a buzzword that got thrown around a few times during the movie, without any impact on the storyline.
Some other questions you might ask are:
How did everyone in the galaxy again miss that planet-destroying weapons are being built? How did Palpatine build a fleet of star destroyers that can actually destroy stars without anyone noticing? How could he amass the resources, manpower and funds to pull that off without raising suspicion?
What is the point of all the flirting between Rey and Finn? What was that thing he wanted to tell her?
What’s the point of Rose? Jar Jar Binks actually had more impact on the story than her. Along the same lines, what is the point of Captain Phasma? Or General Hux?
How the fuck did Kylo Ren see Han Solo? Can Han Solo be a Force Spirit without being Force sensitive?
The fact that the movie is visually impressive holds, but is completely irrelevant. Considering that it’s 2019 and that Disney has the power of infinite money, this is to be expected. In every other aspect, the movie blows.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker does share a lot with the previous two episodes. Most importantly, Episodes VII, VIII and IX share a categorical distinction from the original trilogy and the prequels.
By this I mean that, while the first six movies represent a holistic unit, and are a part of the same saga, the latter episodes – culminating with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, are not part of the same whole. They are something else. They are a mediocre space saga, accidentally named Star Wars.
No identification with actual Star Wars characters (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
As I mentioned above, this is not a definitive Rise of Skywalker review and I would appreciate it greatly if you would let me know what I missed in the comments below.
Stefan is a geek and wordsmith extraordinaire with an M.A. in Philosophy and a professional background in business development, marketing and media. He has a cat called Freya that doesn’t like him very much.