LeonDeon’s review published on Letterboxd:
Man, so here we are. It's been a journey, hasn't it? I mean it's been 4 years since the Force Awakens came out yet it feels like 10. I feel like I can't go anywhere without hearing someone talk about Star Wars and some capacity whether it was a good franchise a bad franchise. One thing's for sure it is a pop culture icon that just seems to never really die. I see people all the time talking about how these films are killing the brand name of Star Wars but it's a franchise that has too much in it for people it has too much cultural history for people to let go of it. I can understand why people don't want to let go of Star Wars because there's so much tied to their childhood and their come up as someone who not only watch his movie but gets involved in the conversation in filmmaking. The story of Star Wars is legendary where you had a filmmaker come out and make something that totally changed the landscape of film forever. The industry will never be the same, and it hasn't been the same since Star Wars came out because everything wants to replicate that Monumental success and create a cultural zeitgeist. The issue is when you force something to be that cultural Zeitgeist it fails. It is a Monumental occasion that a film like this happens. It is a tent pole film it is an event film it is a film that people will see regardless of people praise it or dismantle it. I'm sure everyone will go see this because of the conversation taking place around it. This will be a long one.
Why does it feel like I have almost no interest in any of these characters anymore? I feel so stupid and naïve for being excited for The Force Awakens. I'm also not a prequel fan either I enjoyed the original trilogy I'm not a fan of the prequels in any meaningful capacity. But these sequels are something to behold. Yes, these films are safe, so safe that they're as sharp as a dulled out butter knife forty-two years old. Let it be known that Disney had no vision, they had no plan and no roadmap. They went with the wind and it blew them so far off course it's staggering to witness. What I watched wasn’t what I think people were thinking of when The Force Awakens came out, I know it wasn’t what I wanted. It split the community like never seen when The Last Jedi came out. It’s a film bold in some senses and so painfully stupid in others I am split myself on it. There are some great ideas at bay, but it never seems to come to fruition. These are all things are in the cultural headspace at this point. I mean you can’t go anywhere on YouTube without an an overly long review of these films. Watching something like The Last Jedi I think about what it could’ve been and what it should’ve been and what it did to the series. Whatever J.J. set up for the series, Rian took down and make something different, taking it all down from within the system. Now I’m not trying to say that Rian sabotage a billion dollar franchise I think he tried to make the best film he could and from an outsider perspective the amount of hate he received is a blight on fandom. Rian Johnson makes a great point about not giving the fans what they want because they should want to be shocked and awed at what is taking place. It’s a great article worth a read as you get to look into the headspace of Rian and what he was trying to do with this series. But The Last Jedi was two years ago, and The Force Awakens four years ago. It’s been a ride through and through. What does The Rise of Skywalker do?
Nothing. That is the most blunt answer I could give. If you want something more eloquent, I would describe The Rise of Skywalker as a film made by a committee that was shocked by the backlash of The Last Jedi and fervently tried to make this film as safe as it could be with no risks being taken so that way Bob Iger could have another billion to the company. Disney was so worried about this film that they fired Colin Trevorrow to bring back J.J for a mega deal. Here you can read that when this deal was taking place it was 3 months before The Last Jedi was released and I’m willing to speculate that they knew what they had done and were doing everything they could to fast track love for the franchise before The Last Jedi had even hit theaters. So when it hit and everything was coming down they at least had J.J. back as a safety net. This movie is a safety net. They brought back Lando because he’s a character from the old trilogy and because they had wasted the other main characters from that trilogy they had to make people interested again, at least those who were on the fence about the story or production of Rise of Skywalker. If you’ve seen Return of the Jedi you’ve seen this new Star Wars film here. It has a lot of the same beats and moments and even scenes from that film. I cannot believe that they said that everything that happened in this film was planned from the start because it wasn’t. The writing is on the wall across the board from the way characters speak to the pacing and set pieces it was all a response to fan backlash. Plain and simple.
Okay, so if this film is a response to all of that is it good at least? Is it entertaining? The easy answer is no. I would not say that this is worth the investment. It dilutes everything people love about this series into the most adolescent form it could be so that way this one movie can reach to everyone. Better to please the fans and give them the same thing they’ve seen repeatedly instead of doing something new or at least trying. The bright spots of the movie have to be the character of Palpatine and Adam Driver. These two are doing their best with what they're given, and it isn’t much. So much of this movie’s story is nonsensical and don’t start with the whole “It's a sci-fi movie or its popcorn movie turn your brain off” train of thought; this film does not work because it is afraid of the people who are paying their hard earned money to see it. The fear from the studio execs is right in front of my face when I was watching these scenes play out. It seemed like they had looked at the script, the dailies, the concept art, storyboards, the casting, and the reception all into account to make a sterile experience. Whatever happened in The Last Jedi is ignored or is pushed to the side as they cross their fingers hoping you forget about why or what took place two years ago.
They push characters out of the way just so the story is to be as action packed as possible. Finn as a character has no arc. Poe has no arc. Rey never has to face real hardship because she is all powerful and cannot lose once. They cast aside Leia. Chewy is there to be a reminder of who is still around. Lando is the last of the nostalgia. They bring Palpatine back because they have nothing left as a real antagonist. They minimize Luke as much as possible to make way for a new generation of heroes. These choices aren’t so much choices as they are mandated decisions made by people we will never see or hear from who told the story to gain as much profit as possible. All of it is saddening.
I loved watching the original trilogy as a kid. I loved watching the prequels as a kid and watching Anakin and Obi-Wan fight on Mustafar blew my goddamn mind. I know that a filmmaker should be able to tell the story they want to tell, that not everything has to be what a fan wants because maybe it's not the best for them. I would rather have taken another Last Jedi over this. At least that film had grit, at least it wanted to do something new. At least it wanted to be its own thing and stand apart from the originals and prequels. This This is just bland sterile beige paint. It is lifeless and soulless. It should be the mascot of corporate filmmaking as it continues to wane down my interest in Star Wars. I’m tired and I’m tired of watching Disney do this time and time again. I wonder when it will end if it ever will end. All I know is that this series or at least this trilogy is over and I can finally rest for a bit until they bring it back a decade from now and do it all over again.