Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

Despite being thrown down a shaft and becoming a blue cloud Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is alive and well and plotting his final revenge on the galaxy. The Resistance, led by Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) must find a way to stop him at any cost.

Well this is it. the final part of the Skywalker Saga (as it has recently become known) is here at last. The weight of expectation on this film would easily crush the Death Star into dust. It’s been more than 40 years in the making and honestly I never thought I would see Episode IX.

I was a huge fan of Rian Johnson’s entry into the canon with The Last Jedi, it was a bold new take on Star Wars both technically and thematically but there’s no denying it was a Marmite movie. The sheer level of vitriol in some corners of the internet has undoubtedly changed the direction of Rise of Skywalker and while I managed to enjoy this film I found it to be ultimately disappointing.

I think that the biggest crime committed by Rise of Skywalker is its insistence on playing things safe. One of the reasons that The Last Jedi is so divisive is that it takes a lot of chances. Rey’s parentage? Unimportant. Snoke? Dead, doesn’t matter. Luke Skywalker? Petulant sulk. It was such a departure from what anyone would have predicted but it felt like it opened up a dizzying array of possibilities. Most excitingly it promised to democratise The Force, meaning that the heroes of the galaxy weren’t determined by their family name but that anyone could be special.

The action in Rise of Skywalker pretty much abandons The Last Jedi and like Luke Skywalker it turns its back on the lightsaber held out by Rian Johnson. It’s not that I think Rise of the Skywalker is a bad film, there are far worse films – in fact as someone who lived through the dark days of the prequel trilogy I can confirm that there are far worse Star Wars films. I just can’t get away from how safe it was and how much it seemed determined to appease the internet cry babies after The Last Jedi.

The story is frantic as the film tries to cram in two movies worth of story into one. The film is a breathless MacGuffin-a-thon as our heroes dash from one location to the next trying to find some rare artefact or person to help them onto the next stage of their quest. It’s one long RPG-style fetch quest bouncing from one location to the next, without ever stopping for proper motivations or character development.

It sounds like I hated Rise of Skywalker but that couldn’t be further from the truth, I liked it but didn’t love it and I’m just left disappointed that the brave new world of The Last Jedi is all but forgotten. I think handing the individual episodes between J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson was a mistake that meant we didn’t end up with any kind of singular vision but just two people ignoring each other’s ideas.

It’s the end of the saga and I enjoyed the ride, I think I was just hoping for more. Still this now clears the decks in terms of the Star Wars universe and it will be exciting to see where we go next not that we’re unshackled from the Skywalkers and their family drama.

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