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Film Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

J.J. Abrams panders to the wrong crowd, making the final Star Wars installment in this trilogy the most bland of the franchise

Fresh off the heels of one of the most divisive popular culture movies of our generation, director J.J. Abrams attempts to deliver a trilogy-ending sequel worthy of Mr. Lucas’ original. Unfortunately for him, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker reads more like a jumbled mess rather than an extravagant and satisfying conclusion.

In the film, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and what’s left of the Resistance train to defeat the rising force of evil in the galaxy, the First Order, who gears for the total annihilation of the rebels. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) searches feverishly for the source of the mysterious voice of the legendary Sith Lord.

Rian Johnson’s eighth Star Wars installment, The Last Jedi, was quite possibly the most discourse-riddled Star Wars film. Yet, with all the backlash and commotion it endured, Johnson still managed to create the most exciting and daring Star Wars film fans have seen since The Empire Strikes Back. It is no surprise then, that J.J. Abrams chose to tie up Johnson’s loose ends rather quickly and pivot back to the tone of The Force Awakens — a superhero movie disguised as a Star Wars flick. This may not have been the smartest choice.

It is clear that Abrams did not want to take any risks in the final Star Wars script. The dialogue and paired writings are bland, and can best be described as a script chock-full of repetitive one-liners. The characters are not given substantial dialogue, and if they are, Abrams makes sure to contradict their sentiments later on. Conversation rhythm between characters follows a monotonous pattern of quip, one-liner, then a sarcastic comment. Plot-defining moments get brushed off with a laugh and are thus portrayed as inessential. Consequently, it is nearly impossible to follow all character motivations and development, of which there are plenty, in a coherent linear fashion.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Abrams’ style of storytelling – ignoring what is true to the characters and creating more storylines than any film would need – breaks the continuity of what the Star Wars franchise has always been: an anomaly. The original trilogy is unmatched in its powerful storytelling and fluid narrative through all three films. The original three films feel as if they were created as one coherent unit. 

However, this sequel trilogy, which ends with The Rise of Skywalker, feels like no one was able to agree on one steady storyline that would cement the overarching “sequel plot”. It morphs the long-lasting franchise into a broken and poorly executed Marvel movie — characters simultaneously complete action-packed and spectacular journeys that add little to their overall development. Additionally, their stellar moments are captured in an extravagant climax equipped with an epic one-liner they don’t deserve.

While it is entertaining to watch Rey wield a lightsaber, Kylo Ren brood, and Poe and Finn racing around dodging TIE fighters in the Millennium Falcon, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may not be enough for fans who were hoping for an epic and daring conclusion to one of the most successful stories in popular culture.

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