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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.7%
Worth A Look: 4.35%
Just Average52.17%
Pretty Crappy: 26.09%
Sucks: 8.7%

3 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
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by Jay Seaver

"A hollow, disappointing finale, but perhaps not a disastrous one."
2 stars

I said back during this film's theatrical release that it was probably going to take me a second viewing to decide whether this movie is genuinely bad, with most of what I enjoyed being a Pavlovian reaction to John Williams's score, or just a decent movie that is nevertheless a massive letdown because it follows (and in some ways undermines) the series's best entry in 40 years. It says something that I'm willing to consider that second viewing - it's "Star Wars", and even the messiest and most flawed movies in the franchise have had something to impress - but probably something else that I didn't get around to it while it was still in theaters and instead waited until the home video release was on sale for a reduced price. For a movie that should have been a triumphant finale along the lines of what Disney's Marvel office achieved with "Avengers: Endgame" earlier in the year, it winds up forgettable, and lucky to be so, because it's filled with decisions worth forgetting.

Since the events of The Last Jedi, a message from Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) has been broadcast across the galaxy, despite his winding up pretty unequivocally dead at the end of Return of the Jedi. As a result, both Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who has seized control of the tyrannical First Order, and the Resistance fighters led by Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) scramble to follow a trail to Sith planet Exegol. Ren has a massive head start, while the team of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Tuotamo), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and BB-8 must follow a trail hinted at by a series of lost artifacts.

It's a structure that winds up chopping the film up into a number of distinct sections, at least for the heroes, and that's okay, but it also leads to each section feeling lightweight, especially once the moment in one that was supposed to elicit a bit of strong emotion is undone in the next. It's a structure that gets more obviously rickety as the film goes on and the whole premise becomes even more far-fetched even by the genre's own standards, but which makes things feel less exciting and impactful even as the stakes get higher and the ticking clock counts down. As has often been the case over the course of his career, co-writer/director J.J. Abrams often seems to know what a great movie moment looks like but isn't quite so adept at connecting that big moment to smaller ones on either side that support it.

He has, admittedly, been given a tremendously difficult task - not just crafting a film that can serve as a suitable finale to a trilogy, but to a trilogy of trilogies, but being asked to step in when another filmmaker was dismissed from the project, giving him a year less time than is typical for this type of movie, while also dealing with death of an actor who was going to have a major role and an extremely polarized reaction to the previous entry. Some of the compromises made are primarily awkward, like how every attempt to build something coherent out of what little unused footage of Carrie Fisher from previous movies does little but demonstrate that they probably would have been better off just saying she was busy on another front. Sometimes he and his co-writers bend over backwards to have the same situation lead to a different outcome as The Last Jedi; sometimes they don't even bother. These filmmakers get that "fail the first time, succeed the second" gets a cheer, but don't do much to earn it.

Instead, they undercut the broader themes Rian Johnson made a huge part of The Last Jedi that moved the franchise away from chosen ones and lineages, and for those who were impressed by Johnson's take on the series, it feels a bit like rolling back changes that made the franchise feel more modern. Instead, Abrams goes hard on legacy and something called a "Force Dyad" which, in terms of reducing the spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of The Force to nuts and bolts, is right down there with "midichlorians". He even undermines his own good work from The Force Awakens, a movie built around an indoctrinated Stormtrooper listening to his conscience and the child of heroes choosing evil, by reducing both choices to supernatural influence. The prequels had their own issues, but Anakin's fall was his own.

If rough casting choices were what hurt the prequels the most, that's certainly not a problem with the sequel trilogy; the cast Abrams and company assembled for The Force Awakens is still strong and charming and completely committed to their parts even if the material isn't nearly as good. There are a number of new additions that are also pretty good, even if they are by and large redundant. The way they bounce off each other is generally fun to watch. By this movie, the audience is as comfortable with them as with John Williams's score, and nobody is slacking off or otherwise doing anything to sacrifice that trust.

Similarly, the film is slickly-produced enough to go down fairly easy. A ton of resources are thrown at Industrial Light & Magic, the various other effects houses, and I wouldn't be surprised if the producers hired the absolute best pre-visualization crews in the business. It's a terrific looking movie with a lot of creative and stylish action, and while the only intermittently has enough heft to it to truly delight, it's never short on spectacle. Even in an era when new blockbusters come out every week, Star Wars still manages to make an argument for being the gold standard.

Disney paid too much for Lucasfilm to let one bad movie sink the franchise for good, and over the past few years, they've shown great willingness to spend a bunch of money and hire enough good people to prevent the sort of unwatchable debacle that damages the investment. "The Rise of Skywalker" is a bad movie, but it's one a viewer can get through without it tainting the rest of the series, even as the conclusion.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=31269&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/04/20 21:42:58
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User Comments

12/22/19 DJ If you enjoying The Force Awakens and Return of the Jedi you will enjoy this film. 4 stars
12/22/19 Louise Quite astonishing, a truly exuberant and stunningly breathtaking end to the story. 5 stars
12/21/19 JS It was fantastic. Fitting end to the Skywalker saga. 5 stars
12/20/19 A BEAUTIFUL, SHINY, POORLY WRITTEN TURD Pete SOBczynski is such a woke shill, it's hilarious. Disney should've had a game plan :_( 1 stars
12/20/19 Bob Dog Worst of the franchise - - full of sound and fury signifying nothing. 1 stars
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  20-Dec-2019 (PG-13)
  DVD: 31-Mar-2020


  DVD: 31-Mar-2020

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