‘Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker’ Is a Lazy, Escape Room Meets ‘Return of the Jedi’ Knockoff

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Star Wars Rise of Skywalker Spoiler Review

A common theme frequently spoken about by the creators of the Star Wars sequel trilogy is that it’s meant to rhyme with the original, and in some instances it does. 

However, in the last installment, “The Rise of Skywalker,” the film decides to instead, just repeat the same words spoken in “Return of the Jedi”. 

If “The Force Awakens” was a retelling of the original 1977 “Star Wars,” I would go as far as to say “Rise of Skywalker” is essentially identical to “Return of the Jedi” but has some different names for prominent characters. 

Luke is replaced by Rey, Obi-Wan is replaced by Luke, and Darth Vader is replaced by Kylo Ren. And Emperor Palpatine, well, he is replaced by, wait for it…. Emperor Palpatine, but this time with way less fingers and an immobile body. 

It’s true! The creative team at Disney decided to bring back the same baddie from the first six films and defeat him in almost the same exact way, but with a lot less engaging light saber fights. This choice is extremely problematic for the film because it allows the creators to lazily answer a lot of the interesting mysteries posed in the previous two films. 

Rey’s nobody parents are revealed to be the children of Palpatine, and she is his granddaughter. Snoke was nothing more than a literal puppet created by the Emperor in a lab. And the First Order is supposedly an Empire knockoff that was influenced by the Emperor himself.

Also, the Emperor has remained in hiding for the past 30 plus years, and during that time he’s built a fleet of super weapon star destroyers that can destroy planets (very original).

These choices might work for the younger generation that has never seen the original trilogy, but for longtime fans, they’ll catch on to the copycat syndrome quick. 

Various critics have bashed the film for retconning some of Rian Johnson’s creative choices in the “The Last Jedi” like making Luke a bitter old man who hates the Jedi and crushing fan theories of Rey being somehow blood related to the Skywalkers or Kenobis because of her inexplicable force powers.

Fanboys absolutely hated these changes, but the critics marveled at Johnson’s bold choices. There’s only one problem. Doing something different doesn’t make a good movie. It’s all about the execution and Johnson mostly missed in my opinion due to his failure to effectively move the plot forward.

You don’t even need to watch “TLJ” to understand the new film.

Rhyming can also be a good thing, but unfortunately Abrams, like Johnson, also missed on his second go-round in the series by creating a plot filled with holes, and another nonsensical chase for yet another type of map/key.

This time, instead of some code that will disable the First Order’s tracking device that we see in “TLJ”, our characters are now tasked with finding a dagger that has a code on it that will take them to a way finder which will then lead them to the Emperor. Again, very original.

There’s a few cool parts along the way like when Poe meets back up with an old cohort named Zorrii Bliss who reveals his past as a spice runner, and 3PO’s bold sacrifice of his memory.

They also keep the main characters together for a majority of the film which improves on one of the major missteps from “The Last Jedi.”

Luke has a few great force ghost scenes and every Jedi from all the previous films make a special vocal appearance at the end. We even get to see Rey and Kylo duel in the Emperor’s throne room from “Return of the Jedi.” 

Sadly, however, the fan service just wasn’t enough to save this mess of a film. The Emperor is shoved down your throat in the opening classic Star Wars crawl, but his return still feels rushed. We get very little explanation as to how he was able to survive after being thrown down a shaft and exploding. We’re supposed to just buy that he somehow kept himself alive with dark science and force powers. 

His relation to the First Order is also a bit unclear. He tells Ren that he created Snoke, but he has no power over the Empire knockoff that Snoke supposedly birthed.

Not one person knew that the Emperor was in hiding for all these years? Seems far-fetched and a rush job on Abrams part to make Rey’s lineage interesting. 

We also find out that Rey is related to this madman. But the bloodline of Palpatine has never been that significant in other Star Wars films. It’s always been about the Skywalkers and how he manipulates them because they will seemingly surpass him in power someday. So the twist is made ineffective because we’ve never been made to care about the Palpatine bloodline before. And let’s remember, this is the Skywalker saga. 

Star Wars is really all about Anakin, his redemption, and how his offspring play a role in it. He’s the glue of this entire series and he’s noticeably absent from the force ghost appearances. Sure you hear his voice at the end, but he should have appeared at some point to bring clarity to this story since he would probably be the only one that would have an idea about how the Emperor was able to survive his fall. 

Instead, Abrams undermines Anakin’s entire arc and negates the ultimate victory at the end of “Return of the Jedi” by bringing the Emperor back and killing him again. I’m just going to ignore this film which played out as expensive fan fiction. 

As much as I hate to say it, Abrams should have taken a cue from the prequels and broken free from the formula of the original trilogy. He kind of wrote the whole thing into a box in the “The Force Awakens” by using all of the same ships and themes from the original trilogy with the Resistance as the Rebels, and First Order as the Empire. One positive thing about using Palpatine is that the First Order’s striking resemblance to the Empire makes a lot of sense, but the bridge between the two is never clearly explained so it could still just be coincidence. 

I’m sure there’s a lot of comics and guide books that explain some of these themes better, but most movie goers are not going to read them. 

Abrams had a clean slate, an original cast that was still alive, and what he gave us was a glorified reboot. Johnson tried to move away from the trappings of repeating the same films, but Abrams brought us right back, and it was not done well. The fans were also more forgiving with “The Force Awakens” since it was meant to drum up nostalgia. The “The Rise of Skywalker” is lazy, contrived, predictable and pointless. 

Some fans will like it purely because of the force ghost appearances and call backs to previous films, and that’s what Disney’s banking on because they did not set out to make a good and original series this go round. 

And seeing better efforts like “The Mandolorian” and “Rogue One” lets us know what’s possible with Star Wars. They need to take a cue from these series and give us the galaxy far far away from a different perspective. 

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