Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ★★½


I didn't really properly review The Last Jedi here, but it's one of only 11 films this decade I gave five stars to. (So help me, random Letterboxd users, I am *not* interested in discussing this with you.) Those five stars were not just about the film itself, but the world of possibility it opened, one where the real ideological and political limits of the Star Wars universe opened wide and became - to me - much more fresh and interesting, to the point where I was buzzing in a way that no blockbuster had done for me this decade. And I thought, bless, that this would prove to be an uncontroversial opinion.

I'm glad I was prepared in knowing that this "final" installment was going to be mostly fan service and walking back as much of The Last Jedi as humanly possible short of making it an Admiral Ackbar fever dream, because within that context, the first hour is fine. Better than fine, actually. Abrams is a propulsive director, there's some striking scenes, and I think regardless of your feelings on the previous film, there's an undeniable pleasure in having the team back together. (I mean, except for the one who gets a Poochie-style "I have to return to my home planet" for the first two-thirds of the film.) The retro-fitted resurrection of Fisher is weird but visually works, even if I was inordinately distracted by the notion of crafting dialogue to advance story around existing footage and disparities between what a performance would have been if the scene was being acted for the actual intention. Still, it did little to impede my enjoyment.

For a while.

But after a certain point, all I could think of was Lars von Trier's The Five Obstructions. (Terrific film. I recommend you check it out!) Abrams faced a host of obstructions, not the least of which included reassuring a rattled fanbase (to put it as politely/noninsultingly as possible) that this *is* still the Star Wars they know and love, setting up as many spinoffs as possible so we can have an endless stream of Star Wars content until the end of time, and finding fitting curtain calls for a character who already died in the films and another played by an actor who died in real life. (Plus cleaning up whatever mess Trevorrow left, and some other things that I won't spoil.)

Whether there's a great film to be made within those obstructions, or whether a different director would have bucked against those harder, I don't know. But we have what we have, and it wore me down to the point of disengagement, at least when I wasn't actively groaning whenever yet another moment of fan service unfolded.

And look: I genuinely hope fans get real joy out of this! Let people like things, whatever. Others will interrogate and debate the ostensible "objective merits" of the film. But I can't even be fucked to care anymore. I saw today that a character I'd forgotten was in the Star Wars universe from Rogue One is getting a series. There are easily six possible spin-off films or series that I can spot at a glance that could come off the back of this, which probably means there's 20-30. The age of the feature film as a stand-alone unit of expression is over. The age of cross-platform branded entertainment is fully entrenched. And so, let me peacefully become an antique, and watch The Burial of Kojo and A Hidden Life and Furie and In Fabric. I like things that end, and with Episode 9 - an ending 42 years in the making that somehow still only feels like a motherfucking prologue - my engagement in the Star Wars universe has ended.

That's my resistance, and I'm sticking to it.

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