Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a disastrous, soulless squandering of the good will built up by The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
Director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy should've stepped back after producing this rancid turd and realized that this franchise deserved a better sendoff. They should've eaten the dollars and started over. Fans would've waited for a real movie.
Sadly, the money has got to get made, so here it is, the last chapter in the Skywalker Saga on time for holiday moviegoing, a chapter that had me longing for The Star Wars Holiday Special.
How is this bad? Let me give you some thoughts as the anger flows through me like the Dark Side of the Force.
The first hour is virtually unwatchable, fast and furious but with no editing flow and no sense of purpose other than to simply get you to the next part. Fans going in looking for answers or meaningful storytelling will not only be bewildered, but blindingly pissed off. It's pretty clear that Abrams and friends had no real plans when they laid out this latest trilogy. They are making up this crap as they go along.
Force Awakens, also directed by Abrams, was a promising start. Heck, I will call it a classic. Then, The Last Jedi happened, with Rian Johnson getting permission to go off the reservation with his storytelling, and he most certainly did. Some of the plot choices in Jedi were odd, but at least that movie was a decent film that felt like a Star Wars movie, peppered with some laughably bad moments.
The Rise of Skywalker is a laughably bad movie peppered with the occasional moments that don't suck as much as the rest of them.
The most regretful “bullshit!” moment in Star Wars history officially stands as 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. Her dialogue is stuff taken from the cutting room floor. It's awkward, it's obvious, and it reminds of the way Blake Edwards insulted the late Peter Sellers the very same way with the posthumously released, and equally terrible, Trail of the Pink Panther.
For the first two trilogies, George Lucas, love him or not, had a solid story plan. He tweaked it along the way, but he governed over what was happening like a mad dictator, even when he wasn't directing. There was a certain uniformity to the series.
After Awakens, Disney and Abrams made the bold choice to hand the storytelling over to Johnson for Jedi—not unlike Lucas giving up directing control during the original trilogy—and then they second-guessed their own bravery. The Rise of Skywalker is an unabashed Abrams apology for “missteps” of The Last Jedi, rendering the second film a complete joke, and doing everything it can to win back the fans that may've gotten disenchanted. Continuity be damned.
Some fans were displeased, but that doesn't mean they wanted the spine removed from one of their favorite moviegoing experiences in favor of a “Star Wars Happy Times” mix tape.
As for the return of Emperor Palpatine, his footage plays like a bad Hellraiser sequel. If Palpatine had a presence or influence in the two preceding movies, his presence here might've made sense. Instead, the sound of his cackle reeks of storytelling desperation. Don't get me started on the Death Star wreckage.
My advice is to pretend this movie hasn't happened. Allow hologram Luke Skywalker facing down Kylo Ren in Jedi to be the end of the “Skywalker Saga” and skip this one. Watch the superior The Mandalorian and the soul-healing powers of Baby Yoda on Disney+, along with the upcoming Obi Wan series, to get your Star Wars fix.