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The Rise and Fall of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

by Ian Carlos Crawford

If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the last few years or talked movies with, well anyone in the last few years, you might’ve noticed some folks seem incredibly torn on Star Wars. The original trilogy is revered, the prequels are hated, and the first two of the new trilogy seem to be revered *and* hated.

And half those folks are wrong because both Force Awakens and The Last Jedi are absolutely stellar Star Wars films. Rogue One, while quite the mess in the middle, is another great new Star Wars film. Solo is….a new Star Wars film for sure. And now we have The Rise of Skywalker.

Welcome to hell aka more Star Wars discourse!

*Spoilers Ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker*

The moments that worked in this movie were when they let the characters breathe and have their witty banter and cute moments. Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, and John Boyega are all incredibly charming as Poe, Rey, and Finn. But the movie spent most of its 2+ hour runtime with our characters fighting or slip sliding from plant to spaceship back to planet. And while our beloved characters all showed up — almost none of them got any sort of enjoyable screen time. Everything felt rushed and the movie was…quite the mess.

Carrie Fisher, who sadly passed away before this movie filmed, was not given enough to do as Leia. Which, of course, wasn’t anyone’s fault. The studio made the decision not to CGI her character into the film and use archive footage from the previous films. And while that’s all understandable, I truly wish we could’ve gotten something more from Leia. Hell, they could’ve started the movie with Leia’s funeral — given her the iconic send-off she deserved. Instead, we see for about 0.5 seconds that she’s training Rey, gives Rey a hug that we can tell is a goodbye forever hug, then pops back up to pass away in what felt like a cut scene from the original Charmed series. Leia uses her powers to…do what exactly? Barely distract Kylo Ren so Rey can kill him then promptly bring him back to life?

I will give the movie this — I was never once sold on the Rey/Kylo ship, but this film almost made me forget he was a mass murderer. I kept wanting them to kiss even if I knew it was a stupid idea. But that kind of sums up this movie? A lot of things, like their final kiss, happen that are stupid ideas.

Billy Dee Williams was great to see on screen but Lando felt like he floated in and out of scenes with little or no thought to the character or his motives? And where the hell was he when they needed these reinforcements in The Last Jedi?

But maybe the biggest WTF plotline came right out the gate — the re-introduction of Emperor Palpatine being in the opening title scroll! When I walked out of the movie, I asked my friend if I’d missed him being mentioned in the earlier films and, you guessed it, no I hadn’t. The fact that we hadn’t heard peep from this well-known character only for him to suddenly show up as this new trilogy’s big bad felt incredibly cheap. We learn he’d always been there but…why hadn’t anyone mentioned him? It felt like maybe writers/directors JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson, who did the first two films, never had a discussion about where these movies were going — or maybe they did and they both just hated each other? Nothing really tied together in any meaningful way?

I often found myself wondering, “Where are we going here” — and the movie didn’t seem to know? The fight on the destroyed Death Star, while pretty cool looking, felt incredibly tedious. I kept wondering when Kylo and Rey were going kiss rather than who was going to win whatever super long lightsaber fight they happened to be having at the moment.

So, in the end, the movie is the worst of the new trilogy but still ranks above The Phantom Menace. It’s worth seeing because the characters are enjoyable to watch on screen and some of the new character are quite charming, but it needed a better editor. It wanted to be the Avengers Endgame of Star Wars movies but it ended up being more like the Justice League of Star Wars movies.

About the Author:

Ian Carlos Crawford grew up in southern New Jersey and, like most people from NJ, he graduated from Rutgers University. He then graduated from New School with an MFA in nonfiction writing. His writing has appeared on sites like Geeks Out, BuzzFeed, NewNowNext, and other random corners of the internet. He currently co-hosts a podcast about his favorite thing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, called Slayerfest 98 and is shopping around his fiction manuscript. Follow him on Twitter @ianxcarlos

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