'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' is too busy making unnecessary references to the franchise it forgets to tell a good story

The Rise of Skywalker 2 Disney

  • “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” tries so desperately to service the fan base that it loses sight of the story it’s telling.
  • The movie often feels forced, unnecessary, and has way too many hat tips to the franchise. 
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J.J. Abrams helmed the return of the “Star Wars” saga with “The Force Awakens” in 2015 and mixed a new chapter with the nostalgia to deliver a movie that was loved by the fan base.

Boy, what a difference four years makes.

Abrams returns to close out things with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (in theaters Friday) and clearly tries to pull off the magic trick twice. But this time it feels forced, unnecessary, and in some instances boring.

The first half of the movie, which brings Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Issac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) together to track down the planet that Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) has been hiding out in (since “Return of the Jedi”) and finally end the Sith, just isn’t interesting. It feels like filler to get to the second half of the movie.

It seems there was a strong idea of how to end the Skywalker saga, but they needed to fill in an hour before getting there.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) discovers the existence of Palpatine before the Resistance does, and is given an important piece of information: who Rey’s parents are (turns out he only knew one part of who Rey’s parents were in “Last Jedi”). So, while Rey and the gang are trying to figure out where Palpatine is, Ren gets his mask put back together and goes out to find Rey with Palpatine’s Final Order army.

Yeah, it’s really confusing, and worse, lame.

The Rise of Skywalker 3 DisneyBut Abrams does get things back on track for the ending. And if you haven’t zoned out by then you may enjoy it. All questions are answered, all the people who need to show up do. It’s full-on fan service, but at this point, nine chapters in, we just need to embrace it and move on with our lives.

It’s clear with just the pacing of the movie that Lucasfilm/Disney did not want another “The Last Jedi,” where Rian Johnson slowed things down and let it all breathe. “The Rise of Skywalker” is as quick as the Millennium Falcon. There is no time to catch your breath or for the actors to give anything in the scenes. It’s basically, how many things can we do in how many locations, without spending too much time doing them?

And the movie goes overboard with nostalgic hat tips. There are some needed to give you a fulfilling climax, but for the most part, it goes so far in the hap tips it’s a shock to the senses. It will make even the most dedicated “Star Wars” fan say, “Enough!”

Because so much is packed in, there is little for the new characters — and some of the existing ones — to do. Thankfully, Leia (Carrie Fisher) gets a nice send off, but there is one highly CGI’d scene with her that will have some folks up in arms. 

If there’s one thing that will stay with me it’s Driver’s performance as Ren. He’s always the standout, but in this film he shows why he’s an incredible talent. Honestly, the movie would be a complete disaster if it weren’t for him.

Despite all of that, the movie is going to be a monster at the box office — at least for the opening. The question becomes what kind of legs it has. It likely won’t have the staying power of “The Force Awakens,” but will it earn as much as “The Last Jedi”? We’ll be watching.

 

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