Suddenly, there’s a new antagonist to finish off the trilogy. If you can avoid it, don’t watch this movie, folks.
Why, Disney, why?
The Rise of Skywalker is the absolute low point in the Star Wars saga, and proof that even a huge budget, a name as big as Disney, and a franchise as iconic as Star Wars are no guarantee for a film that is even remotely passable. Disney massively dropped the ball on this trilogy, and the main reason for that is that it all led to the massive trainwreck that is The Rise of Skywalker.
The movie stopped making sense before the opening crawl even started, when they decided to announce their new antagonist off screen, between movies, in Fortnite. I am not making this up.
It doesn’t get any better after that. The movie is rife with bad writing and filmmaking – hunts for newly-introduced McGuffins, unearned emotional moments, single-moment character redemption arcs, nonsensical lines spoken by a dead actress, terrible boss-battles, stakes raised to the absolutely unbelievable, and an ending that makes sense only to the public and not to the characters. There are too many sins to list them all. My viewing experience was akin to some sort of fever-dream hallucination, like someone had accidentally replaced the script with a fourteen-year-old’s fan fiction, and J.J. Abrahams just rolled with it.
Overall, even though it still looks good (it’s Star Wars, after all, and the visual team seems not to have collectively lost its mind (as opposed to the writing team)), the film is an affront to filmmaking and to the Star Wars franchise. There are many hundreds of hours of video essays and rants on where this trilogy went wrong, and much digital ink has been spilled over it on blog posts and Reddit threads. I believe that the plot writing was the main issue, and apparently, the lack of a coherent plan for the trilogy.
Effectively, it took Disney about four years to kill the main Star Wars saga as a guarantee for good content. Each of the movies was less successful than the last. Of course, Star Wars is too big a franchise to just die because of a couple of lean years (and though I haven’t watched it, The Mandalorian appears to be good, based on its reception), so there is hope yet. But there are so many failures and icky elements to the Disney Star Wars reboot that it feels to me like a soulless cash grab (as we’ve come to expect from Disney’s factory-formulaic storytelling). It is just a pity that this time, Star Wars was the victim.