Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ★★½

This could have been a pretty decent follow up to The Force Awakens if The Last Jedi had never happened, but no matter the amount of retconning and backpedaling J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio could muster, the writing is on the wall in turd brown letters. Now, Star Wars officially has more bad episodes than good ones, and The Rise of Skywalker is the final perfunctory nail in the mainline franchise's coffin. No amount of Quips™, shark-jumping, or fan service can pull this goofy space epic back from the dark side. This leviathan of Spielbergian schlock and guffaw has left myself and many others with not just franchise fatigue but a much more general fatigue, antipathy, and perhaps a little relief, like the conclusion of a naked horseback ride or a high colonic that didn't go exactly as planned.

I say it COULD HAVE been a good second installment because it actually got the series back on track with who is who and why they do the space thing and the force and stuff (if the story even had anywhere else to go). But then there are all of those pesky hanging narrative skin tags from Rian Johnson's exercise in subversion-based storytelling like "weren't Rose and Finn supposed to be a thing?" "how does the resistance still have more than six characters left?" and "did the casino planet get rightfully eradicated?" Even if it renders the majority of The Last Jedi inconsequential, it's still a case of "too little, too late", an underwhelming reaction to a reaction of a reaction to coddle an unpleasable audience. It caters to the lowest common denominator while still being a befuddling assault on the senses. Then you probably heard that Sheev is back. One would do well to recall that Ian McDiarmid may have been about the only actor in the prequels having fun, but when did he slide back into this mess? Did I miss an in-universe vignette about this, or are trailers now a part of official cannon? We are ultimately left with a film that only a person who has invested 15 hours or more into the film franchise will be able to fully appreciate, much less comprehend.

I guess I'm just saying that if you're going to bring in an outsider to take control of your bajillion dollar film franchise, maybe make sure they don't co-opt it to shoe-horn progressive social commentary while insulting the intelligence of general audiences. I get that there are a lot of stupid movie-goers and many more stupid "fanboys", but you don't have to rub their faces in Laura Dern's purple hair just to preach Marxism 101 and the #metoo movement. BUT if you DO do that, don't immediately backtrack with some milquetoast CG epilepsy test that somehow fails to captivate while remaining wholly predictable like, say, The Rise of Skywalker. In context, the story of how a chosen hero brings balance to the force is comprised of a lopsided and poorly constructed trilogy of films. An unbalanced trilogy in an unbalanced trilogy of trilogies that I'm sure will serve as a useful and effective babysitting regimen someday soon in a household not so far, far away.

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