Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (dir. JJ Abrams, 2019) – The conflict between the Jedi and the Sith reaches its peak, bringing the Skywalker saga to its final chapter.
It is true what they say about too many cooks. Multi-director trilogies often end up with disparate visions, disjointed story lines, and inconsistencies, leaving much to be desired. Just ask Star Wars. Coming on the heels of both valid and absurd flak, The Rise of Skywalker steps right into an uphill battle. Some fans had abhorred The Last Jedi and were unafraid to make known their own ideas on how to “fix” the plot.
Meanwhile, bullets continue to fly at Rian Johnson for “ruining” the franchise. Not unlike what George Lucas himself faced before in 1999, only amplified threefold by the Internet. Johnson had been bound to shoulder the blame for everything that went wrong with The Rise of Skywalker, no matter his involvement or lack thereof. And went wrong it unfortunately did.
The last of the trilogy proved a mess, with JJ Abrams seemingly undoing every plot line that Johnson had set up. An ordinary child who built her own destiny, Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds out that she had familial ties to the Force after all. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) dons his mask again, after destroying it in a fit of rage. In an uneven narrative births an unexpected relationship, which means little in its late stage and pales in chemistry comparative to Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and BB-8.
Other characters fare worse. A vital companion in the first, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) is benched seconds into her second appearance, in favour of new characters who barely have the chance to leave a scratch. Then, there is one of the most unearned reveals that does no justice to General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson).
The major retcon backfired. Loyal fans were angered. The fire was fanned for those who were long ready to hate the film, no matter how it turned out. Blame fell once again on Rian Johnson for doing what he thought had been best with the characters, where someone else had left off.
Few questioned why he was given no blueprint to follow, if JJ Abrams already had a story in mind. Why then had Johnson been given the job, if he was supposed to go with someone else’s ideas?
One must acknowledge that neither filmmakers were at fault for following their own paths. The movie’s biggest mistake was having two creatives attempt to reconcile their distinctively different visions.
Leaving blame aside would leave us some to enjoy in the film that is actually more decent than most may have you believe. Spending a feature length apart had not ebbed away an inch of the bond between Rey, Poe, and Finn. There is immense pleasure in seeing the reckless pilot, the former Stormtrooper, and the ex-nobody reunite for one last ride.
It is clear that the trio had as much fun as did the original cast, who also received warm tributes befitting the story’s final chapter. After this recent annual churning of Star Wars features, there is no better relief to have the franchise finally take a breather – at least for a little while.
An uneven narrative never tempers the fun of the Star Wars saga that sees to another fitting closing chapter for old and new crews.