STAR WARS IX: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER opened this week, worldwide, and already there have been multiple reviews of this film. It’s even hit the high seas in a relatively decent cam quality. This has to be the fastest paced film in history. It has been (correctly) leaked, horribly reviewed, box office tanked and pirated, all in a span that has led us up to this point in history, which is just days after the premier in Hollywood and here in Japan, the movie opened yesterday! (as of the day of this writing and posting, December 21st, 2019).
As the headline says, this is a spoiler heavy review and I’ll be going into depth and detail about this film. If you don’t want to spoil it for yourself, don’t read any further. If you don’t care, here we go.
Otherwise, you’ve been warned since before you clicked on this so please don’t complain.
This entire film can be summed up into two words, easily: “Damage Control.” What sort of damage? The damage Rian Johnson did to JJ Abram’s overall plan for this trilogy when he gave JJ, Kathleen Kennedy, and us the fans, the middle finger in the name of SJW politics when he put out his filthy piece of trash we all know as “The Last Jedi.” After seeing “Rise of Skywalker,” (and this is where my opinion differs from the core of the Fandom Menace), it became clear what JJ’s plans originally were for his sequel (Disney) trilogy.
Here’s my theory, which is plausible, and yes some of Rian Johnson’s work played into this, before we realized how much of a douche bag Johnson really is. (Keep these in mind because I’m going to spoil RoS with this same table.
Rey – Originally, she was going to be the second child of Han and Leah. When Ben was training with Luke, Rey was born (by another name). As a teenager, Luke would have been seeing the darkness rise from Ben, so after attempting to kill Luke (and Luke defending himself), the Jedi Master took Rey to Jaku to be taken in by one of Han’s frenimies who owed Han a huge favor. Once Rey met Han and Leah in The Force Awakens, she would’ve felt the Force pull her towards them. The reveal would’ve come sometime around the second or third movie as events in TFA played out exactly as they did. In the end, it would’ve been Rey and Ben Solo that took down Snoke (who we would’ve learned was pulling Palapatine’s strings from all the way back to The Phantom Menace).
Luke – Luke was to die in the 2nd movie, just as he did, though I would’ve imagined in JJ’s original take, was more heroic than dying like, frankly, a pussy. It’s my belief that Luke, in an attempt to free Ben/Kylo Ren from the grips of the dark side, went to face Snoke one on one, but with his new apprentice, Rey, at his side. This is where Snoke was to kill Luke, and Rey escapes by the skin of her teeth at the end of the battle in the 2nd movie. Luke’s legacy would live on through the third film as Obi Wan did for him in the original trilogy.
Han – Exactly as we saw. He had to die in order for Kylo to come back to the light. It was the Force’s plan from the beginning, and as we saw in Rise of Skywalker, it was perfectly done (one of the film’s highlights).
Finn – Finn should’ve met the First Order Storm Trooper Force Exiles (that’s a mouthful but essentially that’s what they are, FOSTFE from now on) in the 2nd movie. As it is, we met them in RoS and we didn’t have enough time with them. It’s here that Finn would find his balls and integrate the FOSTFE formally into the Resistance through the course of the third movie (since we need to have a sense of dread and hopelessness for the cliffhanger in the 2nd), and General Finn (who we saw in RoS) would’ve led the final ground assault against the First Order led by General Hux.
Poe – A wildcard, though we would’ve seen Poe take on more of a Han Solo mixed with Wedge Antilles in this character, as he teamed up with Chewbacca and ran some exploits on behalf of the Resistance. I don’t see him having played much of a role except that of “taxi driver” in JJ’s vision, to be honest.
Snoke – Yeah, let’s get into this guy. In JJ’s original vision, it’s my opinion that he was poised to be the biggest, baddest evil force in all of Star Wars, period-end. From JJ”s original interviews, Snoke was have been there from the beginning, manipulating everything, even Darth Plagus as Snoke was to have been his master. We would’ve probably seen flashes of the Emperor bowing down to Snoke, or it would’ve been mentioned that he was there when he manipulated the blockade of Naboo that started the events of the entire Star Wars Saga in the first place! By the third movie, the final confrontation would’ve had the Solo Siblings square off against him. A huge revelation that the Force had counter-manipulated destiny, itself (as though destiny was a character in the film) so that the creation of Anakin, the birth of Luke and Leah, the falling in love of Leah and Han to beget Ben and Rey, would lead to the downfall of Snoke who was a supremely powerful being said to have been created by the dark side, entirely. One could even have Rey deliver the death blow in order to press on with SJW politics. This had the potential to be the most epic conclusion to the entire Skywalker Saga…
…Until Rian Johnson gave everyone the finger and destroyed it all with The Last Jedi, which stands out as the worst Star Wars film ever! After seeing Rise of Skywalker, that opinion only reinforces itself.
Instead of something epic, we get the following, thanks to Rian Johnson:
Rey – Granddaughter of Palapatine, heiress to the Empire. Parents also of noble blood, but nobodies. Born a magical witch who gets trained in the Force by spliced off-the-cutting-room-floor footage of Carrie Fischer from The Force Awakens, Rey slices Snoke in half in The Last Jedi, is told how awesome she is throughout RoS, kills Palapatine in a Power Rangers-like explosion, dies, gets brought back by Ben Solo, makes out with him for a moment before he, too, dies, and is now Jesus Christ of Star Wars, taking on the name Rey Skywalker after seeing the Force ghosts of Luke and Leah on Tattooine in a shot that mimics the opening shot from A New Hope….
Hope that run-on gives you an idea as to what happened.
Luke – Masters the abilities of snatching physical objects being thrown at him as a dead man! JJ gives him lines that sums up the “Damage Control” motif in three simple words, when Rey confronts him about how sucky his storyline was in The Last Jedi: “I was wrong.”
Finn – An absolute nobody and a clown in TFA, given only screaming lines like, “REEEY!!!” “POOOOE!” “ROOOOSE!” in The Last Jedi (like the screaming Checkov trope in Star Trek), and finally a general, playing second fiddle to the FOSTFE in Rise of Skywalker. Still friend-zoned by Rey, the leader of the FOSTFE, having only gotten a “death kiss” by “ROOOOSE” in TLJ, because we can’t have a relationship in the Disney trilogy that makes sense, can we?
Poe – Reduced to the comic relief because Johnson derailed him completely in The Last Jedi, so whatever JJ originally outlined for Poe, it’s gone now!
Snoke – Who?
As you can see above, the failures of Rise of Skywalker squarely belong to Rian Johnson, not JJ Abrams. I believe JJ did the best with what he could have done given how badly Johnson tanked the entire Star Wars saga. That one movie, alone, ruins the entirety of Star Wars. It’s so bad that JJ had to have had arguments with George Lucas, directly, on how how to move forward with RoS. Truly, RoS was two movies smashed together into one: JJ’s original Episode VIII and Episode IX stories, with a last minute audible play of having Palapatine return.
That being said, on its own, Rise of Skywalker was absolutely fantastic…. and an absolute abysmal failure all in one picture.
JJ’s damage control was plastered all over this film. While it didn’t completely ignore The Last Jedi (which it couldn’t possibly do so), it did attempt to restore Star Wars after Johnson ripped its heart out and ejaculated into its now empty chest cavity. The premise of RoS was as follows: Palapatine, who everyone magically knew was back, created the Final Order by equipping some Empire era Star Destroyers with Death Star canons that could take out worlds. The Resistance must recruit some help in order to find their collective nut sacks so they can take on The Final Order. Meanwhile, Rey Palapatine and Ben Solo (who came back to the light after an absolutely beautiful cameo scene from none other than Harrison Ford, himself) confront Robo Emperor and in a cartoon-ish Power Rangers like yawn-fest of a final battle, Robo Emperor explodes, Rey dies, Ben gives his life force to Rey, they make out, Ben dies and Rey takes on the name Rey Skywalker for absolutely no reason whatsoever, cut to black, roll credits.
Now that we’re all on the same page, I present to you “The Good,” “The Bad,” and “The Ugly.”
1. I loved the overall character interactions. It’s obvious that the core Disney characters have great chemistry working together. We laughed appropriately, we felt for them appropriately, and we went through the train wreck that was the finished product of this film, together, having felt like we genuinely took this journey with them. Overall, the direction was very well done with these characters.
2. The cameo from Harrison Ford was a complete tear-jerk. When Rey and Kylo felt the availability of Carrie Fischer footage came to an end, the next obvious step was to have Kylo have his “come to Jesus” moment. That took the form of Han Solo bringing Ben back, and it couldn’t have happened any other way. JJ had Han killed in The Force Awakens, and even though Johnson tanked the entire story, it’s clear why it had to happen. With the tragic death of Carrie, we couldn’t have that reunion between Leah and Ben that SJWs would celebrate over. Instead, we get Harrison Ford returning one last time as Han Solo, and as a father of two boys myself, seeing a father, who yes was killed by his own son, still reach out with his loving heart towards his son and pull him back from from the pits of hell, was a huge emotional draw, much more so than was probably intended (only as a ‘member berry). As much as I’m going to rip this film apart in the next few segments, JJ Abrams gave us this, which is probably the only time I let tears roll down my face in a Star Wars film.
Writing that was difficult enough because of how awesome this scene was! The reenactment of the infamous TFA scene between Kylo and Han, right up until the point where Kylo tosses his light saber off of the Death Star ruins and brings Ben back, was fantastic! Not Oscar worthy, though I don’t hold Oscar worth to mean jack squat, Harrison Ford and Adam Driver deserve accolades for this!
3. Carrie Fischer! Yes she looked a couple of years younger, and healthier, than she did in TLJ, because we knew it was repurposed rejected footage from The Force Awakens, but it was great to see her one last time! Thankfully, she wasn’t recast and the mix was done decently.
The Story – It’s clear from the story where JJ wanted to go with his trilogy. Seeing which way he went with this film clearly illustrates the completion of failure on the part of Rian Johnson. The flaws of Rise of Skywalker rest solely on the director of the movie that came before it. It’s also clear that what was probably a joke told over an overload of beers by George Lucas about bringing back Palapatine was taken way too seriously by the Lucasfilm execs. It had no place in this story or trilogy, but was probably the only way to make something cohesive, but upon execution, was pushed off of the skyscraper to its death at the hands of the unmerciful concrete, some 150 stories below.
It is very, very clear to me and any other Star Wars fan out there that JJ had absolutely no idea who the character of Shiev Palapatine truly is!
In Rise of Skywalker, he was reduced to the role of a classic Satan – or even worse: a Power Rangers villain! He was cartoonish, one-sided, and everything we knew about this Naboo native was thrown out the window for absolutely no reason whatsoever!
Shiev Palapatine was a very complex individual who was more power hungry than evil, but very cold, calculating and an absolute genius. From his rise to power to his downfall at the hands of Darth Vader, Palapatine had the makings of one of the most complicated villains in all of modern lore. He was a man who was brought up in the dark arts of the Sith by parties only told to us in EU lore. Having been raised on Naboo, Shiev learned about politics, liberal arts and what true beauty and love were all about.
Religiously, he was devoted to the Sith, but knowing that in order to manipulate things to go his way, he must play the long game. It was a very, very long game that took decades to execute. It had to be played very methodically, and we got a chance to see how diabolical his rise truly was. As Emperor, he reigned over an Empire that was benevolent. Yes, there were corrupt elements to it, and many planets that chose not to surrender completely did suffer consequences until they either submitted or rebelled totally (which led to either liberation that they had to fight to keep, or their complete extermination). However, overall, the Empire was not completely evil.
Imagine the Federation from Star Trek, with a Starfleet that was a mix of both the prime and mirror universes – dedicated to sciences and the betterment of the Federation, while at the same time ruthless and absolute in their resolve. This was shown to be true if one were to pick up Timothy Zahn’s Thron novels (especially the Disney Era) where he depicts the Empire exactly as described: The Federation and Starfleet. Zahn clearly is a Star Trek fan, but his love of Star Wars is unquestionable.
Knowing all of this, seeing Palapatine in RoS was pure cringe. Where was the genius? If he was truly behind the First Order, as we are being asked to believe, why were they so evil and ruthless? Clearly, JJ’s original vision was to have Snoke as the big baddy, which would’ve made the First Order’s behavior make a lot of sense. But Palapatine?
Palapatine, yes, was the embodiment of evil for six straight movies, but the oppression his Empire choked the galaxy with was no different than nations occupied by the United States in real life! Unless you crossed the line, you had nothing to fear from the Empire! The way the whole Final Order thing came about was something that Snoke would’ve done – NOT Palapatine! This complicated villain was reduced to a Saturday morning cartoon bad guy, and even calling him that is an insult to Saturday morning cartoons!
The pacing of this movie is for the birds. Slow in some spots, fast in others, it’s clear what JJ was trying to do – retell his original plan in less than three hours. It turned into one big mess. The cuts were ill timed, and the movie was jerky in many places. It was basically a paint by numbers, but he got the numbers wrong.
Okay, so here’s how I’m going to conclude this review.
Much like what you have just read, this movie was a complete mess! It’s as though someone ate a meal cooked by Gordon Ramsay. That someone then puked up the food all over Gordon, and then attempted to re-eat the puke as to not upset an already viciously pissed off Gordon Ramsay.
Yes, it’s like that.
The entirety of the Disney Trilogy could be summed up that way, as well. The meal being Star Wars 4,5,6,1,2,3 (release order), eaten by us the fans (Gordon Ramsay and The Force Awakens), puked up (the puke being The Last Jedi), and attempted to be re-eaten (by JJ) after already pissing us off royally (Rise of Skywalker).
All in all, STAR WARS: RISE OF SKYWALKER is a solid 4 out of 10. Entertaining enough if you’re a normie but as a Star Wars fan, it’s an absolute disaster, bringing Rian Johnson’s failure full circle. Yes, JJ Abrams doesn’t go blameless here because he did bring us the Palapatine arc that didn’t belong, but he wouldn’t had to have gone here if Rian Johnson had been fired before he cut 1 second of The Last Jedi.