Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ★★

A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight.

Two word review: Sensory overload. When I left the theater after seeing The Rise of Skywalker, I was left with a similar split I felt with The Last Jedi. However, while most everything in The Last Jedi at worst left me feeling more frustrated than angry, here I had much stronger emotions on both sides. There were some things I liked a lot, and some things that I just hated. However, as I have thought about it more, and I've typed and re-typed a way to review this film, I'm feeling as though that I don't just dislike it, I think it might just be bad.

To address what I mean by "sensory overload", the most glaring problem to me about the film is that it tries to pack so much into a runtime that's impossible to allow the proper timing needed for most scenes to work. We're jerked around from scene to scene, exposition to quips to dramatic beats, there is no time to breathe in ninety-nine percent of the film. Without going into spoilers, Kylo Ren at one point shares a vision with another character as he makes an integral decision, and that's one of the few moments I found to work with no strings attached. (It also delivers with repetition used well, re-using lines from The Force Awakens and framing them in a new context. A good moment.)

There is quite a lot of fan service to find in here. Returning characters, callback lines and images, a John Williams score that features just about every other previous Star Wars song. That said, this is an instance where this service feels as if it's done in favor of trying to be something on its own, and even then, the fan service frequently comes off as forced and disingenuous. If you loved The Last Jedi, this film might be your worst nightmare for what a follow-up could've been to that. When I'm spending most of the movie internally pleading for it just to pause and let a scene rest before we move onto something else, something is without question wrong. This film isn't just wrapping up a three film arc, this is meant to be the conclusion of the entire "Skywalker Saga." I would want to say that J.J. Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio did their best with trying to find closure in a not great situation of divisive fans and a seeming lack of a road map to an ending, and I truthfully cannot say that.

There is a certain decision with Rey's character made that I completely loathed. I feel like I have to apologize personally to Rian Johnson for it, and if you've seen the film, you know what it is, probably. If I end up doing a spoiler review soon because of how vague I'm keeping this current review, don't be surprised. As a means to sum up these scattered thoughts, I am left with a concrete feeling I don't like: I no longer have interest in Star Wars. I still enjoy my fair share of older features, the original trilogy I love, Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One are underrated to me, and yeah, I still like The Force Awakens, but when it comes to everything Star Wars released in these past roughly two years, I can only be left feeling cold and/or flustered for so many times until I have to get off the ride. If you liked this film, good for you, and if you hated it, I think I'm more on your side. Despite Luke Skywalker telling us that "No one's ever really gone.", I think for at least some time, "gone" is something Star Wars might need to be.


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