A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away …
As much as this symbolic opening comes to fans with nostalgia, most audiences have grown tired of the repetitive space adventure movie.
Despite being undoubtedly the most famous sci-fi film series in the world, or perhaps the galaxy, the ninth episode, “Stars Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” marks a disappointing finale to the Star Wars saga.
Released on Dec. 20, the film has an ominous beginning with the supreme leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”) arriving on planet Exegol and meeting an antagonist (no spoilers) whom fans will find familiar. There, Kylo decides to hunt down Rey (Daisy Ridley, “Peter Rabbit”) and to help the mysterious figure with the unleashing of a new force: The Final Order.
Meanwhile, the Resistance and the protagonists from “The Force Awakens” — Rey, the ex-First Order Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega, “Pacific Rim: Uprising”) and Resistance X-Wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac, “The Addams Family”) — struggle to figure out a way to bring down the First Order.
With a run time of 2 hours and 22 minutes, the film tackles a lot of plot points. Director J.J. Abrams, who directed “The Force Awakens” four years ago when the Star Wars saga continued from “Return of the Jedi,” attempts to cram in the entire explanation about Rey’s past and wrap up the series. This most likely is a reaction to the criticism from hard core Star Wars fans who panned the previous installment, “The Last Jedi,” directed by Rian Johnson, for Johnson’s decision to have Luke Skywalker ensure he’s the last of his kind by burning up the whole Jedi library.
Abrams’ response in this film ends up with a pacing that’s much too fast, leaving another dozen easter eggs for viewers to follow and figure out — perhaps in an upcoming DVD/Blu-ray version for Disney to keep the money coming in.
In regard to the mediocre scenario, audiences may find the producers’ decision for Rey’s true identity unappealing because the plot twist does not flow in smoothly with the story.
Moreover, the plot mainly centers on the conflicts of Rey and Kylo as they maintain a rather odd and intimate relationship, struggling to figure out their true nature — the dark side or light side of the force.
In spite of the film’s efforts to convey the touching scenes of Rey and Ren’s “awakening” moments, audiences are more likely to find the scene cringy and not relatable because overdramatization.
Another sore spot concerns the plethora of abandoned characters from earlier in the series. For example, audiences expect the former space pirate and ally of the Resistance, Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”), to play a significant role in the film, but Kanata ends up being nothing but a mere macguffin.
On the bright side, the cinematography of the film brilliantly captures the characters’ journey to four newly introduced exotic planets and the sequences of lightsaber duels between Rey and Kylo.
Ultimately, this may be the movie for audiences looking for a holiday blockbuster to watch with their friends and family. With its captivating special effects, the film successfully accommodates the necessary components of a “Star Wars” movie.
However, the film overall lacks creativity because Abrams (“Overlord”) continuously repeats cliche scenes such as the spaceship chases and Jedi trainings, which audiences have seen many times from earlier installments.
Although the reappearance of familiar characters such as Han Solo (Harrison Ford, “The Secret Life of Pets 2”) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) was enough to satisfy audiences at first, overly relying on this method eventually comes to audiences as repetitive and old.
Taking into account the burden on the film, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” does a satisfactory job in closing the curtains for the Skywalkers. Another thing for certain is that this will definitely lead to a rise of more Star Wars movies to come based on other characters like Dameron or Finn.
May the force be with them.