Erik [Auk]’s review published on Letterboxd:
My beef with The Last Jedi was that for all of its promises of taking the Star Wars franchise in interesting and new directions, it ultimately reverted back to the same old boring Star Wars storytelling almost every time in the end. It was a movie that opened the door to new possibility but hedged its bets every time.
Evidently just the tease from The Last Jedi that maybe this franchise shouldn't run on nostalgia and the same old plot beats was enough for some fanatic fans to raise the pitchforks and freak out. Of course Disney panicked, and that's how we get a movie like The Rise of Skywalker. If anything, this film has given me a new appreciation for The Last Jedi. While that film may have chickened out in making the changes to this franchise it desperately needs, at least The Last Jedi had a unique vision and an actual authorial voice.
But The Rise of Skywalker is probably one of the most cynical movies I have ever watched. J.J. Abrams didn't want to make this movie to begin with. Everyone seems to forget this was originally supposed to be made by that Mr. Nobody Colin Trevorrow who somehow got the keys to Hollywood off of just one decent-to-good indie film. But Trevorrow was fired and the legacy of troubled productions on every new Star Wars films except The Force Awakens had Disney break the emergency glass and bring J.J. back just so he could helm the ship and deliver Disney its product.
All of the interesting things in The Last Jedi are either swept under the rug or ignored entirely in a cynical (but futile) attempt to pander to the type of Star Wars fan who hates The Last Jedi, loves the Prequels (no one tell these people the prequels are actually a blatant and obvious rebuke of neoconservatism and the George W. Bush administration), and wants to watch the same reheated story beats over and over again.
There are some good moments in The Rise of Skywalker, hell there are even some great moments (particularly towards the end!), but for every good moment in this movie there were at least 10 that made me roll my eyes or groan. A movie full of ridiculous exposition, blatant nostalgia, endless pandering, retconning, no real consequences, uninspired storytelling and so on.
Maybe one star is a bit harsh. If there is one thing I can truly compliment the movie on, I did enjoy the production design and sets which were consistently top notch. Like I mentioned earlier there are indeed good moments, even some great ones. Rey's showdown at the end and the sacrifice did strike a chord. But I don't know, in addition to all my numerous complaints and utter disgust at the cynical filmmaking I also closed my eyes in the theater several times and almost fell asleep at one point. This stuff just wasn't made for me.