Despite his massive fame, success, and an estimated net worth of 300 million dollars (Yes, I looked it up), I don’t envy J.J Abrams. After being given the impossible task of rebooting the Star Wars franchise, he somehow managed to make one of the most successful films of all times that generally everyone liked. His successor made a film that caused the equivalent of a civil war within the fandom and grossed barely more than half of Force Awakens.
So now Abrams was brought back and asked to create a film that would somehow please the divided fanbase, be a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, fix the mistakes of the The Last Jedi, and yet still be an entertaining and memorable movie in it’s own right. So with all that pressure and differing goals could Abrams, or anyone for that matter, pull it off?
Can J J Abrams Pull it Off?
Well no, of course not. Kind of anti-climactic really. Someone was asked to push a boulder up a hill and it ended up rolling over them. But did he fail in every goal? Not really. Abrams is a talented director, and he certainly knows how to give people what they want. Since this is a film with multiple goals, I think it’s appropriate to look at it from multiple perspectives. One for the hardcore Star Wars fans who showed up to the premiere with i replica lightsabers, and the other for general movie goers who just want a thrilling sci-fi adventure film with lots of explosions.
I love Star Wars, Don’t Get Me Wrong
Speaking as one of those hardcore Star Wars, whose seen the original films more times than I’ve told my family I love them, it’s hard not to see the sense of desperation. The writers clearly crammed in everything they knew star wars fans liked, and then added even more for good measure. It’s a bit bloated for a two hour and twenty minute film, as it struggles to balance it’s plot with outright fan service and constant action. It’s an example of aping something good without fully understanding the nuances.
For instance, C3-P0 is given a much larger role than in the other sequel films, just because they expected fans would love the return of his prissy behavior. But considering we’ve never seen him really interact with these new characters there’s no weight to their relationship. It’s just there because it worked in other films. Someone should have told the writers that less is more, because with how much they jammed into the film to please fans it forgets to make itself memorable. That’s really the worst thing I can say about it, it’s just forgettable because it has no identity of its own.
I didn’t hate it like The Last Jedi, since it has a clear narrative and structure. But speaking as one of the fans it was trying so hard to please, I would have liked it if they made something that focused more on these new characters and gave them room to grow. I’m not made of stone though, so I have to admit that some of those fan service moments did slap a smile across my face. But they were few and far between.
I Can Praise Some Parts of Skywalker
Well now that I’ve written myself into a corner, it’s time to turn on my heels and give the film praise; at least as it relates to a more general audience. As I said, J.J Abrams is a talented director and works well with special effects. It’s a visually spectacular film, striking the right balance between dense yet clear cinematography. The actors are still one of the highlights of this franchise, possessing that effortless charm that makes a star. Adam Driver in particular is talented enough to breathe life into a multi-faceted character with nothing more than a glance.
True Plot of Rise of Skywalker
The plot works more as a self-contained one off story, which makes sense since it’s very apparent there was no grand plan when they started making these. There are plot holes aplenty if you want to nitpick, but the film smartly keeps a brisk pace so you don’t spend too much time thinking about any particular scene.
The action itself is satisfying, if somewhat uninspired. The standout being the lightsaber duels between Rey and Kylo Ren, which are brimming with passion. I would recommend The Rise of Skywalker to those just wanting a nice if unremarkable adventure film, even if they are unfamiliar with the series as a whole. In fact, it might be ideal if you don’t know much about Star Wars at all.
The best thing that could be said about The Rise of Skywalker is that they certainly tried their best, which is both a compliment and a criticism. It’s not the timeless work of art the originals were, and it doesn’t have to be. If it really gets you angry that this is how things ended, take solace in the fact that we still have Baby Yoda.
2 ½ out of 4 Stars
-Daniel Jimenez, Movie Critic