Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; thoughts

In Loving Memory of Carrie Fisher

On May 25th 1977, over 42 years ago, audiences were first exposed to the wondrous world of Star Wars and the Skywalker saga. Now, the story ends with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The First Order and what’s left of the Resistance, lead by General Leia Organa (late Carrie FIsher) go up against each other in an attempt to locate a message coming from Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) himself. On one side stands Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and on the other Rey (Daisy Ridley) with her friends Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Chewie (Joonas Suotamo). While the First Order wants to find him to increase their strength and make their rule over the galaxy absolute, Kylo sets out to destroy him before he gets too powerful and the Resistance wants to finally kill him and restore the balance for good.

Despite the runtime of over two and a half hours, there’s not much else to the story. Part of it is attributed to the fact, that The Rise of Skywalker attempts to answer questions from The Force Awakens and, basically, course correct the franchise after the divisive The Last Jedi, instead of continuing the story. One of the biggest things changed is that this part unveils Rey’s ancestral lineage. I won’t spoil it here, but it feels like a complete betrayal of her character. From the first moment, her story was so great exactly because she was a ‘nobody’. She showed that you can be a Jedi, no matter who you are or where you come from. It’s not about what’s behind you, but what’s in front. That’s quickly taken away, because it is actually Rey’s destiny.

All of the actors do the most with what the script offers, portraying their characters to the best of their abilities and the action, especially the aerial battles, is still very solid. The film is shot by Dan Mindel, who also worked on The Force Awakens and crafts some genuinely stunning sequences, like the opening. No matter what the film does, none of it can be fully enjoyed due to how painfully lifeless the entire thing is. Nothing feels even halfway earned and it lacks heart, or any form of an emotional centre for that matter. The Rise of Skywalker is an incredibly dull film, as if programmed by a computer. Or, more likely, micromanaged by a studio to the tiniest detail. And that pains me to say.

In The Last Jedi, we heard Kylo say the famous line “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.”, which became sort of an unofficial tagline for the newest trilogy. It’s a powerful quote, one that should have stuck with Disney the same way it has stuck with fans. In an ironic and twisted turn of events, these films keep bringing back anything and anyone from the original trilogy, limiting our new heroes from growing. The previous two, in a smaller extent, are also guilty of forcing nostalgia upon the viewer. Whereas in The Force Awakens it seemed like a smart way to bridge the two trilogies, here it’s nothing but unappealing fan service. The Rise of Skywalker keeps throwing things at you, mistaking shock value for important plot moments or character development.

This film took a revolutionary wonder-inspiring franchise and turned it to another cog in the carefully constructed machine that’s severely lacking in any trace of a human element. It’s no one’s fault especially, rather it shines a light on the relationship between fans and studios, and how much is one willing to sacrifice to please the other. The Rise of Skywalker brought the past back alive, even when no one was asking for it, killing most of the hope for future Star Wars movies. Don’t expect me to line up for any future releases.

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