Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) REVIEW – Skywalker Rises, and Falls

In a galaxy far, far away, the battle between light and dark isn’t the only uninterrupted crusade that contests against itself inside of the Star Wars universe. The Skywalker Trilogy, alternatively known as Disney’s constraint on Lucasfilm, brings the curtain down on another chapter of Star Wars with its ninth “episode,” sending off this latest, and hotly debated, addition to the iconic space opera.

The surviving Resistance members, in their determinative efforts, are to take on the white-knuckled clenches of the First Order for one final heave to the finish.  The tug-of-war between opposing forces pushes on, and Ben ‘Kylo Ren’ Solo (Adam Driver,) the last of the Skywalker name, Supreme Leader of the First Order, and Darth Vader devotee, presses on unrelentingly to draw Rey (Daisy Ridley,) the Force-sensitive scavenger whose too overpowered for her own good, to the Dark Side. Rey, disentangling her own past and dusting off secrets of her own, reunites with X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and renegade Strom Trooper Finn (John Boyega) as they set out to save their universe, as in the usual.

Rey secures a more independent, concreted personality as her ability to use The Force becomes more polished and airbrushed into place. She becomes less rigid and accepts that she, too, is human.  Ridley seems to relax and become more comfortable as she subsides into the role that she’s been toying with for years, taking in what there is to offer from a character that seems to have a natural gift for carrying out anything she tries her hand at. The means of seeing a change in Rey are small, but they’re significant compared to her emergence in The Force Awakens. A strong character is not strong because of their abilities, but because of their challenges that they must overcome and learn from. Rey, with the weight of the galaxy bored onto her shoulders, still manages to remain a typical ‘Mary Sue:’ an idealized, perfected character. Unexplained proficiencies are granted to her without question, without proper training, any rhyme or reason as to why she can simply seem to have such power- or at times, overpower.

A number of key scenes are dexterous nods to George Lucas’ classic prequels. Scenery, symbolism, and slim slips of dialogue are used to toss their affections to the original six movies that set the foundation for the Skywalker Trilogy to plant its axis on. The Rise of Skywalker is baroque, ornamental fun that flashes its resplendent, sprawling universe. There are wonders in small, expressive, thoughtful interplays tucked thoughtfully into place: they just need to be hunted for and sought after. There is a need to reach a fan base that can never be satisfied, and scenes of both grand battle and slivers of poignancy set out to please. The susceptibleness of emotions are free for the taking after working to get there.  Star Wars takes self-flattery in its creativity to design unique, odd, eye-catching alien creatures, tipping their hat to their imaginativeness.  World-building is an incredible pride taken, extensive detail is set into elaborate planets that are discovered. Besides spikes of special effects that can be dazzling at their best, John Willaims’ enchanting, winsome compositions keep The Rise of Skywalker as attractive to the ear with his beloved and well-famed orchestration.

The Rise of Skywalker, amid its crests of gratifying moments, falls. Predictability seems to be encoded into the formulary in which the film follows, laying out the stepping stones and placing any hidden surprises in plain sight. Finn, frantically trying to tell Rey something throughout the first act and into the second act of The Rise of Skywalker, seems to set aside his urgency and allows his imperativeness to escape him. Kylo Ren’s most intimidating quality is his monotony. For a big-bad, to be tiresome should not be the first trait to concrete. Being battle-boned, any dialogue that carried any significance dips beneath the meniscus of being meaningful. The writing is sloppy and forced, as J.J. Abrams’ niche of rephrasing and repeating outskirts on unoriginality more than banter.

Lightsabers can only deliver so much excitement, and the last few battles, the most important ones, are devoid of any.  The forever thoughts of “what if…” and “if they…” run wild with what could have given the Trilogy’s finale a clean-cut conclusion that makes way for more. New characters are brought to the scene, but for no other reason to be a fresh face, and they are only thought about being explored further. Characters and their fates, new and old, are carelessly thrown any which way, with crossed fingers that their stories end rightfully. There are climactic turning points that have the chance to spin a whole new story, and yet, these pivotal bombshells couldn’t stand on their own two legs and strike the chest hard enough to knock any wind out of an audience. There was no “surprise!” in these surprises.

Verdict: 5/10- Much like the work of Storm Troopers, any shots taken at shocking twists are missed. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is sentimental, and is a spectacle when it takes confidence in its ability. Shortcomings find balance with spurts of jollity that make the dismissal of the Skywalker Trilogy a mediocre one.

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