Review: “The Rise of Skywalker” falls flat on every level

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Vaughn Clissold, Staffer

In the past few years, Disney has continued to produce movies within the franchise that made Lucasfilm famous: the “Star Wars” saga. “The Rise of Skywalker,” the most recent entry in the series, was met with mixed reviews. 

Within a few minutes of the movie, I realized I had made a terrible mistake. It is a nothing movie. I gained nothing, I learned nothing, I remembered nothing. You could watch paint dry and you’d find more enjoyment, plus there’d be fewer plot holes.

I am going to try to keep my review as spoiler free as possible.

Contrary to some people’s belief, I do not just hate the movie because I’m biased, and blinded by nostalgia for the original trilogy. That is a factor, but one I try my best to ignore. My main issues with the film come from the character interactions and the plot. Our protagonist, Rey, is also one of the most dull characters to ever meet the silver screen. 

If a movie’s plot is lacking, it tends to rely on strong characters and good dialogue. This is not the case here. A glaring example is simply the amount of new characters introduced. With so many people to develop, no one character gets enough time to progress a character arc. Most of the already well developed characters, such as Poe and Finn, are hardly given any screen time. 

Most of the movie is dedicated to our dull-as-dishwater leading lady. 

Let’s talk about Rey.

I do not take issue with her powers, because overpowered characters can be executed well. However, even with the amazing powers she has, she is not interesting to watch. I cannot remember a single scene in which I cared about her or her struggle. She is nothing but a checklist of traits usually associated with “strong female lead.” Furthermore, she has no interesting motivations. Her motivation basically boils down to “Sith bad.” 

In this movie, we get to learn more about her past, but that’s boring too. The writers must have realized that she was horribly dull, and decided to give her a copy-and-paste edgy backstory, complete with trauma flashbacks. Her past is too important to the plot to be ignored, and too under-developed for anyone to care. An instance of by-the-books edgy dialogue is when she’s speaking to Kylo Ren. 

“People keep telling me they know me. No one does,” she says. 

This is so inept that I nearly laughed. The line “no one gets me” is a joke on the same level as “it’s not a phase, mom.”

The plot is very weak. I cannot go into extreme detail without spoiling the film, but I will outline my general problems with it. My main issue is that the force is used as nothing more than a plot contrivance. Whenever the film has written itself into the corner, it uses the force to move the plot along. 

This problem is present in the entirety of the film, but it’s most obvious when it comes to Rey. She demonstrates many previously unseen powers requiring no practice, such as healing deep cuts and even bringing people back to life. There is no reason given for any of these powers, and there isn’t evidence of them in previous movies. There isn’t even any sort of buildup, she can just sort of do these things. They are crudely shoved in to cover up gaping plot holes.

I have several other smaller issues with the film, which I will only touch on briefly. The pacing is breakneck, and nothing is given enough time. There are several instances of shaky cam, which is not bad on its own, but in this movie it feels nauseating. But above all, it’s horribly predictable. I could guess the lines before they were said, and the plot felt like a checklist. 

And yet, I could forgive every issue I’ve raised here if the movie felt genuine. If it felt like someone tried. This movie, even more than the previous new Star Wars films, felt like a commercial. Characters and locations from the old series are brought in solely for nostalgia points, and the rest of the movie feels flat and joyless. 

Recently, I watched a movie called “Who Killed Captain Alex”, by Wakaliwood Studios. That movie, which had a budget of $200, is objectively bad. There is no production value, and nothing makes sense. However, it is so much more enjoyable than “Rise of Skywalker,” and that’s because it was made out of passion for the art of film. “Captain Alex” was made in a village in Uganda, one which had unreliable electricity, a lack of clean water, and no place to buy cameras or equipment. And yet, it was still made.

The reason I bring up “Captain Alex,” apart from the fact it’s extremely charming and I recommend it highly, is that it’s the antithesis of a movie like “Rise of Skywalker.” “Skywalker” is extremely polished, and it is very pleasant to look at. But that’s it. The whole movie was made as a cash grab, and this cynical attitude can be felt throughout. Unlike “Captain Alex,” it’s not fun or charming in its ineptitude. It’s just bad.

I do not recommend it and I will not watch it again. Two and a half out of ten stars.

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