With “The Rise of Skywalker” having been out in theaters for nearly a month now, I felt it was time to write down my thoughts on this new trilogy of Star Wars movies. Initially, when a new Star Wars movie was announced, everyone was absolutely hyped. And with good reason: it had been the first movie made in the series in a decade. So when “The Force Awakens” hit theaters in 2015, it was an event. There was so much press coverage and so much excitement that it was actually a struggle to avoid any spoilers for the movie. Someone at work actually went to the lengths of covering his ears any time Star Wars came up during our news broadcast.
So yeah, it was a thing.
But fast forward to now, and “The Rise of Skywalker” sort of hit theaters with barely more than a whimper. I saw almost no posts on social media about it, and the news coverage was scant, aside from the traditional package about Hollywood and movies that we run every morning. It came and went without making much of a splash.
So what happened? Where did all the excitement go?
Part of the issue started with “The Last Jedi”, the second movie in the trilogy. It took things in a different direction than what people were used to, which polarized the fans as a result. Some people liked the movie. Some people didn’t. I initially liked the movie, although nowadays my opinion is more of a “meh, it was okay” than anything. There were good and bad parts of it. Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) had the strongest part in the movie, with her obsession over knowing who her parents were driving her to make a bad decision later on. But then there’s the awkward third of the movie with John Boyega’s character and Rose Tico (played by Kelly Marie Tran). It feels lopsided, with some bizarre preachy moments about rich people not caring who wins the war but profiting off of it.
I have no issue with movies tackling real life issues, but Star Wars just doesn’t feel like the place to do it. Especially when you consider that the villains are literally space Nazis. It just feels out of place here. In fact, Finn’s whole third of the movie just feels out of place and inconsistent.
But I digress. “Rise of Skywalker” was viewed by many critics and viewers alike as almost a sort of apology for “The Last Jedi”. And therein lies the problem.
“Force Awakens” was an apology for the prequels.
“Last Jedi” was an apology for “Force Awakens”.
And “Rise of Skywalker” was an apology for “Last Jedi”.
Every movie in this trilogy was a response to another movie. They don’t stand on their own, because they’re trying too hard to make up for the mistakes of the previous movies. So in the end, we get characters that don’t have a proper story arc, a finale that doesn’t feel justified at all, and the random resurgence of an old villain who, by all rights, should be dead.
Yeah, Emperor Palpatine being back was dumb and a move that seemed like it was only made to appeal to the nostalgia in the fan base.
Now, when I walked out of the movie theater after seeing “Rise of Skywalker”, I thought it was okay. It wasn’t great, it didn’t really feel like a proper ending to the trilogy, but I still had some fun with it. But the more and more I think about it, the more I start to dislike it. There’s so many stupid things in the movie that just feel lazy and rushed.
And honestly, if you asked me after the first half of that movie, I would’ve said I downright hated it. Because the first half of “Rise of Skywalker” can be summed up in one word: McGuffin.
For those who don’t know. a McGuffin is a trope in fiction where an item serves to drive the character’s motivations but has no real significance on its own. And my god, that first half was chock full of them.
“We got to go to the planet to get the thing so we can find the planet and use the thing to find the other thing so we can find another planet”. I wish I was joking.
When the movie finally slows down and has some character moments, it definitely gets better. But it doesn’t feel deserved. In fact, it feels like they crammed three movies worth of story development into one. The other two movies feel basically inconsequential as a result.
There’s a lot more specific things that bother me with “Rise of Skywalker”, but for the sake of spoilers I’m not going to get into that here. Bottom line is, the trilogy as a whole does not stand up on its own. At times, the movies barely feel connected with each other. It feels as though there was no proper plan, no story sketched out beforehand. It’s like Disney just didn’t care, and let the directors make things up as they went along. It’s astonishing how lazy the trilogy feels in the end. “Force Awakens” is probably the best of the three, even though it’s basically just a re-skin of “A New Hope”.
I’ve never been much of a Star Wars fan myself. I enjoy the movies, and have played some of the games, but I never got so into it that I read the novels or anything. I’ve maybe read one or two in my life, and that would be it. But even a casual movie-goer can see just how poorly planned out this whole trilogy was. There never feels like there was a buildup to anything, there’s far too many convenient things that happen simply in service of the plot, and thematically they feel all over the place, particularly “Rise of Skywalker”.
I could go on forever about this, but let’s just end with this: remember when Finn was a character back in “Force Awakens”? That was great right? Poor John Boyega…his character basically accomplished nothing in the latter two movies. Wasted potential…but then again, that feels like the trilogy as a whole. It could have been great, and washed the bad taste of the prequels out of our mouths. But instead, we got a mediocre, lopsided mess that is never really sure what it wants to be.
Thanks for reading. Check back next month for another post. And as always, have a great month.