It’s time for another WGN review extravaganza, where all our best nerds get together and share their thoughts on a big movie release. This time around its Star Wars: The arise of Emperor’s voice Skywalker. Check out the reviews below:
The Rise Of Skywalker starts off with our heroes not in the best of ways, Their journey has taken some unexpected twists and turns and it’s left them in a state of disrepair, clinging onto whatever hope they have left. It is, to put it bluntly, a stark reflection of the Star Wars franchise as a whole. So we set out on a journey to bring a conclusion to the story of Rey, Finn, Poe and BB8. For the most part, this is what we find, but along the way it becomes quite the bittersweet finale.
JJ Abrams steps up to the plate to finish what he started with episode 7 and make no mistake about it, this is a JJ film through and through. In fact it feels much more (an)akin to his style than The Force Awakens ever did. It’s a dark movie both thematically and visually and it moves at absolutely breakneck speed. Surprisingly JJ gets to show off his horror chops here as well, in fact the movie is at its best when he’s flexing his stylistic muscles. Although this gets lost a little towards the last third of the movie as the script tries to rapidly deliver set-piece battles and revelations that are sometimes too chock-a-block to really land with the right impact.
Where the directing gives the movie it’s most memorable moments the script provides both its peaks and dales. This is a film of extremes, when it is at its best it’s incredibly emotive with fantastic story beats and genuinely heart swelling moments. It makes the last three films in the Star Wars saga feel enhanced by this films existence. But when it’s at its lowest it’s, unfortunately, not bad it’s just bland. One of the great problems this movie was always going to face was having to strike a fine line between appeasing the hardcore Star Wars fan and paying off the risks that were taken by The last Jedi. But rather than owning and using those narrative threads instead it mostly turns away from them. It’s hard to describe this film as playing it safe but it’s impossible to describe it is taking risks.
But when its good its impeccable and it is more often than it isn’t. It’s full of beautiful moments and it does fantastic justice to some of the threads from the last two films. Almost every character is handled well and for the most part they are all even more likable and charismatic for the journey they’ve been on together. If this is indeed the end of their adventure then we leave them on a high point and it will certainly be bittersweet letting them go.
If we’ve learned anything from the last few years of Star Wars it’s that assuming or demanding the franchise be or do specific things is a great shame. It’s for exactly this reason, then, that the Rise Of Skywalker is such a bittersweet finale. You can’t help but shake the fact that in an attempt to be the perfect Star Wars movie the film shirks and opportunity to do something more interesting and outstanding. It’s a wonderful film that serves as a fantastic endpoint to these characters and to want more of it it is perhaps to forget why we love Star wars in the first place. But it’s hard not to feel that though this is a victory it feels like a slightly hollow one
Greetings my Movie Geeks
The wait is over. The final Star Wars Movie in the Skywalker Saga has been released. Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker wraps up a nine-movie saga that began 42 years ago.
Following on from the marmite movie that is The Last Jedi it does go out of its way to try and have a soft reboot for the entire trilogy.
From the outset TROS tries too hard to appease the fan base that complained against The Last Jedi. With Director JJ Abrams returning to helm the film, his signature directing style of emulating what went before returns also. That’s not a bad thing, but for those who wanted TLJ to be built upon it does just feel like the movie ticks the boxes off the to-do list until the end.
It kicks off fast and doesn’t really slow down and it’s really to its detriment that it is so fast paced as there are moments alluded to that never come back again. There’s no way to make that emotional bond like we had with Luke, Leia and Han.
It almost feels like a proper Disney film, as it is devoid of any threat or stakes. The story elements felt predictable and at no point did it feel like it wasn’t going to go the way it went. Going back to the lack of character development the film suffers because the film seems to have the most McGuffin Hunts seen in a film. Get that thing from there, see if we can find the other thing from there etc.
The acting, effects and music are all very well done, again learning from the mistakes of the Prequels and having the actors act against mostly real backgrounds works well. The loss of Carrie Fisher is felt as unused footage from Force Awakens and Last Jedi was used, but despite being noticeable they worked them in well.
There are good moments too. The power of the Force brought up in The Last Jedi was expanded upon and built to a satisfying conclusion. The Lightsaber Duels were enjoyable, if not edited a little close, but overall, they had the feel and mixed style of the originals and the Prequels.
This film feels as though it is a sequel to a trilogy that was never made. Taking elements from both Force Awakens and The Last Jedi but ignoring others it’s almost like Abrams is making the film he would have made but also adding in his Last Jedi story arc. The unfortunate thing about The Rise of Skywalker is that it’s too overstuffed, too fast paced and has too much to do to close out a trilogy of trilogies. The excruciating thing is that The Rise of Skywalker is just a movie. It doesn’t say anything new; it doesn’t stand on its own and out of the three sequels it is by far the weakest. Want to know which I believe the best is?
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The Rise of Skywalker is certainly a hell of a lot of movie. It hits the ground running and never gives up its frantic pace, even when it arguably should. It’s one of the criticisms I had about The Force Awakens, which featured similarly hectic pacing, and it’s definitely felt a lot more in this climactic final episode of the Star Wars saga. There really is the sense that the movie has been edited to within an inch of its life, and I suspect JJ Abrams crammed what he would have done with Episode VIII into the first forty-five minutes or so.
Fortunately though, the emotional beats largely land, and I got the feeling JJ really did try and go for it with this one (contrary to the relatively safe TFA). It’s one hell of an ambitious movie at the very least, and also a visually spectacular one. Though obviously, the visuals suffer somewhat, as the frenetic pace never really lets them breathe. I’ve mentioned the pacing a lot, I know, but at least it does work during the action scenes, of which there are many. JJ really does know how to craft an entertaining, dynamic action scene, and all of the ones present in TROS are both unique and eye-catching.
It’s also really quite moving. I caught myself tearing up a couple of times, and while I won’t say what for, because spoilers, let me assure you that it was because one of the biggest emotional moments did hit me right in the feels, as they say. Carrie Fisher does carry a fair bit of emotional weight in the movie, some of it from her unfortunate passing, most of it from how her deleted scenes from TFA have been used. Some of it is jarring, as it’s quite obviously old material that’s had new contexts written around it – which really shows – but mostly, it works, and it’s a miracle she’s in the film in a coherent capacity at all. Hats off to JJ and crew for managing what must have been an almost impossible task.
Let’s talk about Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley, because this is really their movie. They are both magnificent in it, and put in great performances. Daisy in particular is leagues beyond her slightly stilted turn in TFA, and is actually matching Driver now, which helpfully makes Kylo Ren and Rey’s deep, complicated bond work that much better. If I could have an entire movie with just these two, I’d gladly take it.
Speaking of taking, a certain Sithy boy almost manages to steal the movie out from under them. Ian McDiarmid is typically excellent as good old Sheev “The Senate” Palpatine, and in this movie he’s especially horrific, devouring the gothic scenery surrounding him with aplomb. I won’t say anything, because it would be a huge spoiler, but trust me, he’s just so good at being a scheming, diabolical mastermind.
I should also mention that John Williams final score for the Saga is exceptional, and brings out the classic themes at the appropriate moments, while also bringing in some lovely new additions. I’ve listened to the soundtrack twice already, and it complements the film wonderfully.
If I have any more criticisms, there’s a few things from The Last Jedi that are retconned that perhaps should have been expanded upon instead of walked back, and characters like General Hux and Rose Tico are effectively entirely sidelined, which I hope wasn’t because JJ gave into the demands of Internet trolls where Rose was concerned (Kelly Marie Tran was infamously bullied of social media because of them). There are also several changes I would have made, particularly in the final ten minutes, but obviously those are massive spoilers, and I can’t really mention them in this spoiler-free review.
So, while it’s easily the weakest of the sequel trilogy, I did still like where The Rise of Skywalker ultimately ended up. I’m gonna miss the hell out of Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8 and the rest of the Resistance crew, and obviously Kylo Ren and his cadre of fanatical tyrants in the First Order. And who knows, maybe we’ll see some of them again someday, because with the Force, anything is possible.
A solid 3.5/5