Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
All the power lives in you now.
The First Order, led by Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is still wreaking havoc on the galaxy. When everyone gets word that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) lives, it's a race between Ren and Rey, (Daisy Ridley) Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) to find him. But the Emperor wants Rey for a very specific reason and Kylo isn't exactly eager to oblige him.
I'll keep my review free of major spoilers. Speaking of spoilers, I read them before seeing this. The entire plot leaked months ago on reddit and I can never control myself, so I knew going in I was going to have an issue with the ending, but I assumed I'd have fun along the way. I'm shocked by how much I actively disliked this movie and that pains me to say as a Star Wars fan. I've never disliked anything from the main trilogy before. I didn't care for Solo, but that film doesn't matter in the scheme of things. This one does.
For a film that feels like it's several different movies and moves almost nonstop, I was surprised at how bored I felt at times. The cast has been pushing the "trio is finally back together!" like they were ever a true trio to begin with. That's always a part of marketing that bothered me. When I left The Force Awakens, I thought to myself "This is Rey, Finn, and Kylo's story." Not Poe's, even though they'd have me believe otherwise. I never cared about seeing the three of them together and their scenes felt so forced. Like it was a constant wink and nod from JJ Abrams that I was supposed to be loving when the strongest bonds these characters made throughout the series were Finn and Poe together, and Rey and Kylo together. This was a story about two sets of duos.
That is a big part of my frustration. What I loved most about The Last Jedi was the force bond between Rey and Kylo, and that's one of the few things from the movie Abrams kept here, but he sticks Kylo back under his mask so it removes a lot of the emotion and nuance from their interactions. They actually have a really wonderful scene together, but it's ended abruptly and then completely disregarded for some fan service that it's insulting. Kylo Ren got Jaime Lannister'd.
The new characters - and there are plenty - are cool on the surface but mostly serve the the purpose of no homo'ing Poe and Finn. (cowards) Remember Rose? (Kelly Marie Tran) Yeah, neither does JJ. He kind of forgot about Hux too. And speaking of fan service, I felt they were more concerned with that than telling a coherent story. So many things happen that are not explained because the movie never slows down. It's a weird choice considering how much exhibition is actually in the dialogue. There's nothing inherently wrong with fan service, look at Avengers: Endgame. That movie is fan service done mostly perfectly and not at the expense of its characters.
It's not a total bust. I did laugh a fair amount, surprisingly at C3PO who I normally do not like. He had some great moments. Sure, it's nice to see Lando flying the Falcon again. It's nice to do a bit of world building, it's nice to see my favorites again, even though I didn't like how any of their stories ended. Kylo Ren/Ben Solo had a great journey, and Adam Driver plays him wonderfully. But it's so painfully obvious that JJ Abrams doesn't like his character as much as Rian Johnson does. With Finn, who always had potential to be such a huge deal but can't be because he has to share the resistance hero story with Poe, they leave an alarming amount of loose ends with him and he spends most of the movie screaming Rey's name. And finally Rey herself, the one who we so easily fell in love with right away. I hated her ending. It was the exact opposite of everything I wanted for her.
I'm just sad at this point. It sucks when a franchise you love doesn't leave you with a satisfying ending. It's Game of Thrones to me all over again.
Memorable Quote: "I did want to take your hand. Ben's hand." - Rey (Daisy Ridley)
As an aside: Someone on reddit put together a gofundme to make a donation to Adam Driver's non profit since Ben Solo clearly deserved better.