Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker Review: In A Galaxy Far, Far Away… Is the Same Recycled Material

By Marc Miller
Published: December 18, 2019 (Last updated: last month)
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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker review: A galaxy far, far away... recycles
2.5

Summary

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the creators of the new Star Wars Trilogy must be dedicated environmentalists, because they keep recycling the same old material over and over and over.

I’m not sure if it’s my fond memories of my childhood re-watching the original Star Wars series that have me holding the JJ Abrams-helmed incarnation to a higher standard. The mastermind behind Lost clearly has his heart in the right place; you can agree, even more so, when you compare it to the great George Lucas merchandise six-year cash grabs at the turn of the century. The passion for it is there. The visual effects are more than impressive, and there are a few mild moments of rare inspiration, but that’s usually reserved from the droids (and Anthony Daniels’ gift of the gab and comic timing). Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker, while an improvement over the last two, can’t hold a light-saber to Rogue One, and has an emotional payoff that’s akin to Bill Murray trying to recapture the magic in several scenes with Andie McDowell in Groundhog Day.

I’m starting to wonder if a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Abrams and Chris Terrio, the writers of the newest Star Wars Trilogy, must be dedicated environmentalists, because they keep recycling the same-old material over and over and over. Every time when the gang goes off to find a piece of the puzzle, right after they complete their task, the bad guys show up to ruin their fun. The same plotlines are recycled from previous chapters, so there is hardly any suspense that built or had. The script also, especially with the modern film trilogy, relies on cringe-worthy dialogue. Remember when we used to get gems like, “Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!.” Now we get, in particular when it comes to transitioning scenes, a line that usually goes to something like, “Wait, and then repeat the exact same line like deja-vu (usually John Boyega’s Finn is saddled with this task). Even the same tropes and MacGuffin’s are on autopilot and are used as standards here.

That would all be fine or at least condoned if the casting was right from the start. The original big three of Hamill, Ford, and Fisher had great chemistry, as a unit, or in a separate one on one encounter. Their conflict made things interesting. Here, their current “throuple” interactions, conflict, or buddy-time, is forced and unnatural. Oscar Isaac, God love him for everything else he acts in, is swinging and missing when it comes to being the comic, swashbuckling relief that Harrison Ford perfected 40 years earlier. Boyega’s Finn has been relegated to screaming a character’s name and staring at Rey with puppy-dog eyes. It’s a hoot to see some old characters return, but more screen time would have been appreciated for new additions like Keri Russel’s Zori Bliss.

The special effects are top-notch, and there is value in telling a story simply and competently, even if repeated, as it is entertainment product that has had consistent success and many love, after all. Adam Driver, besides the natural head of black hair that looks like Darth Vadar’s helmet, is a gifted actor and makes for an interesting villain. As mentioned before, Anthony Daniels is the main source of comic relief with his sharp timing and pitch perfect delivery. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and this current trilogy, for that matter, belongs to Daisy Ridley. It’s an incredibly hard role to fill and pull off, emotionally and physically. It may be, and might not receive praise as, the best performance in an action-adventure series in recent memory. She is the heart and soul of this franchise and it’s the perfect fit for the decade that is finally recognizing strong, smart, confident female characters.

Overall, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of the Skywalker prove, if anything, you can’t go home again. Yes, they aren’t remakes. These are new films, but they are similar and feel like a repackaged holiday gift from the Aunt who says she can’t afford much but spends her Winters in Boca Rotan. If you enjoy the series, I am glad, you got your money’s worth. Though, you should demand more for your dollar. Especially at today’s prices and the amount of money spent on technical production, this could have afforded a rewrite from a script doctor not that far, far away.

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