The force takes a nap

An unimaginative and derivative finale for to the Skywalker Saga

Starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and John Boyega. Directed by J.J. Abrams. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas. Rated PG-13.
Rated 1.0

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a disastrous, soulless squandering of good characters/actors (Rey/Daisy Ridley, Kylo Ren/Adam Driver) and the good will built up by the first two installments of this most recent trilogy. Director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy have failed at giving the main story of the Star Wars franchise the send-off it deserved.

But money has to get made, so here it is, the last chapter of the nine-film/three-trilogy Skywalker Saga, just in time for holiday movie going.

What makes it so bad? The first hour is fast and furious, but with no editing flow and no sense of purpose. Fans going in looking for answers or meaningful storytelling will not only be bewildered, but probably pissed off as well. It’s like the producers made things up as they went along. The Force Awakens (2015), also directed and co-written by Abrams, was a promising start. Heck, I think it’s a classic. Then, The Last Jedi (2017) happened, and writer/director Rian Johnson went off the rails a bit storytelling-wise. Despite some odd plotting choices and half-baked ideas, it was a decent Star Wars entry.

The unimaginative Rise of Skywalker seems like an unabashed apology for “missteps” of The Last Jedi. By doing everything it can to win back the fans that may have gotten disenchanted—continuity be damned—this film renders its predecessor as a complete joke. Even if some fans were displeased with Jedi, it doesn’t mean they wanted a Star Wars Happy Times Mix Tape in response.

Previously, the most regretful moment in Star Wars history was Princess Leia using the force to float through deep space and save herself in The Last Jedi. Allowing the character to survive paved the way for what happens here, as “the last performance” of the great Carrie Fisher is cobbled together from outtakes. It’s awkward, obvious and reminds me of when Blake Edwards insulted the late Peter Sellers the same way with the posthumously released, and equally terrible, Trail of the Pink Panther.

As for the return of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), his footage plays like a bad Hellraiser sequel. If Palpatine had a presence or influence in the two preceding movies, this might have made sense. Instead, the sound of his cackle reeks of storytelling desperation. And don’t get me started on the Death Star wreckage.

My advice is to pretend Rise of Skywalker didn’t happen. Allow hologram Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) facing down Kylo Ren in Jedi to be the end of the Skywalker Saga and skip this one. Instead, watch The Mandalorian (and experience the soul-healing powers of Baby Yoda) on Disney+ for your Star Wars fix.

I know most of you are still going to see it. I can’t stop you. It’s a car crash that no movie reviewer can prevent people from watching.