When I was about twelve or so, I saw the final episode of The Prisoner for the first time. The kaleidoscoping collision of discordant scenes, random images, combined with a non-existent story-line, left my little mind in a swampy, brain-fried fog. I have never felt that way since.
The Rise of Skywalker shows every sign of having been repeatedly dismembered and put together again in the editing room, like a patchwork Frankenstein of a movie. Various versions of scenes were cut, then recut. Then slapped together into a final cut. Pulled apart again when that version tested badly. After that various teams went back to editing mines to try to cobble together, something else slightly more pleasing to the testing gods.
It was a very surreal experience to watch this cinematic train wreck. I wasn’t angry like I was when I saw The Last Jedi. You see, all of my disappointments had been front-loaded Almost all of the leaks were accurate. What I saw was hideous but there were no hideous surprises. Because I had done all of my groaning and eye-rolling well in advance, I was calm and resigned.
This is your spoiler alert but I suspect you already know most of the horrors that lie beneath this sentence already.
The movie starts with the standard title followed by a screen crawl that tells you almost nothing. There has been a galaxy-wide transmission from Palpatine. Remember him. The guy Darth Vader threw down the light shaft in Return of the Jedi?
Well, it turns out that Anakin Skywalker’s entire redemption story arc was a complete waste of his life and your time because Palpatine survived being chucked into a bottomless pit and then getting blown up in a Deathstar explosion.
Don’t question that! It’s J.J. Abrams Science!
Movie opens with a random fight scene staring Kylo and the Knights of Ren. He’s searching for…well at first I thought it was a Sith Holocron but Abrams has never heard of those. It’s just some random MacGuffin cube that was mysteriously hidden for no discernible reason and it would lead whoever found it to Palpatine.
Turns out the Emperor has been hiding out on the Sith homeworld. And I have to say Abrams did a great job with Korriban. Except he’s never heard of that either, so it was named something else. The Emperor is found almost immediately. And begins the first of Palpatine’s many, many conflicting plotlines. It was one long string of, “here is my plan. No, ignore that because here is my real plan! Stop paying attention to that plan because this, THIS, IS MY TRUE PLAN!! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!”
There is no explanation given for how Palpatine survived the Vader’s attack and getting blown the hell up in the Deathstar other than to repeat his speech from Revenge of the Sith about how the Dark Side can let you do stuff. Oh, and everything was Palpatine’s doing all along. He created Snoke, he even kind of proves that when Kylo walks past a few copies of Snoke that got mulched in the copying machine.
So for forty-some years, he’s been hanging on not-Korriban building an absurdly huge star destroyer fleet (the one from the trailer) with no apparent industrial base. No financial infrastructure. And they are fully crewed.
Don’t question that! It’s another mystery box!
Never mind that it would have been a hell of a lot easier just to pop up after the Battle of Endor and say, “I’m not dead. They took their best shot and missed. The Empire is still a thing. Back to work on Monday people.”
So the first of the Emporer’s orders to Kylo is to kill Rey. She’s the only threat to me. Then you can have my fleet of ships instead of the one you’ve already got.
Cut to an action scene aboard the Falcon with Finn, Po, and Chewie. They’ve just received a message from a spy in the First Order high command and have to get back to the Resistance base. They are jumped by a squadron of TIE fighters and Po gives them the slip by feathering the Falcon’s engines in and out of hyperspace in direct violation of forty years of established canon.
Don’t question that! The visuals look cool!
Cut to Rey, meditating, then she decides she’s bad at meditating because the Force ghosts aren’t talking to her, so she decides to do a training montage instead. It ends with her telling Leia, “one day I will be worthy of using your brother’s lightsaber.” And hands Leia back the lightsaber that was completely destroyed in the last movie.
Don’t question that! It’s… It’s a THING, just accept it!
The Emperor, for reasons of lame plot contrivance, had put two not-holocrons out in the galaxy, that would lead whoever found and decoded them, directly to him. No reason is given for why he did that, other than he possibly heard about Luke doing that in TFA and thought it was a groovy idea.
There is a bunch of secret maps that lead to the secret place in this flick. Just like The Force Awakens and Star Trek into Darkness. J.J. Abrams likes those almost as much as he likes blowing up planets, (put a pin in that one).
Let’s see, where are we? Rey and company go to a desert a planet that isn’t Tatooine, to look for the not-holocron but find instead Lando, (who is still wearing the same outfit after sixty years). Plus they find an evil Sith dagger, as well as the ship Rey’s Parents left on, in addition to finding the bones of the whatever baddie who killed them. They also find the hairdryer droid, called D-O.
Lots of stuff to find on Not-Tatooine.
As a bonus, they get Chewie captured by the First Order. Finn screams, “R-E-Y!!” A hell of a lot. In truth, I can’t remember if he did that on Not-Tatooine but it felt like he was doing that every five minutes, so he probably did.
Oh yeah, the evil Sith dagger. It had (*long tired sigh*) a secret map to the not-holocron (that has the secret map on it) on it. Only C-3PO can read it but he can’t say what’s written on it aloud because of a weak narrative device, so they set off to yet another planet to get 3PO lobotomized so he can tell them.
We meet Kerri Russel at this point, who we think was an old girlfriend of Po’s but there are clearly different versions of that subplot that got spliced together in the editing room, so it’s impossible to tell to for sure.
Rey repeatedly Force-skypes with Kylo to keep the Reylo shippers interested. Did you know you can transfer physical objects when you Force-skype? It’s true!
Time to rescue Chewie. they storm Kylo’s Stardestroyer to get him back. Lots of memberberries from the first movie here. This time Chewbacca is the beautiful princess. Oh, and General Hux is the Resistance Spy. So, Richard E. Grant kills him to become the new Imperial heavy since no one could take Bill Weasley seriously as a bad guy after The Last Jedi.
Good Choice, I actually enjoyed Grant’s performance. I’m not even being sarcastic.
Right, so the evil Sith dagger says they have to go to Endor, so they go to Endor. Did I mention that they have the Falcon back? Wait, did I mention that they had lost the Falcon? Well, no matter they got it back and hilariously crashed it.
They get to the wreck of the Deathstar. Which as everyone has been pointing out since the trailer drop, should have destroyed Endor when it crashed into it. Finn meets a new love-interest since Rose didn’t work out. Turns out there were other First Order Stormtroopers who defected. Honestly, that story could have been pretty interesting if anyone but J.J. Abrams had been telling it.
The Deathstar wreck is too big to explore for one small not-holocron. If only they had a secret map. Oh, wait! The evil Sith dagger with the secret map on it snaps open and yet another secret map, secretly contained within the first secret map reveals the location of the MacGuffin-ocron which contains the secret map to Palpatine.
Rey sets off for the Deathstar by herself. Finn, helpfully screams, “R-E-Y!” She finds the not-holocron and then has a fight with an evil vision of herself, sort of like Luke did in Empire. Memberberries are super tasty.
Time to fight Kylo again. He has to die! He destroyed her secret map!
Guess who loses? Although Kylo lost this time because his mom killed herself to juggle his elbow. Rey runs him through with his own lightsaber. She then regrets almost killing him because that’s giving in to the Dark Side. So she heals him because Jedis can do that now.
Don’t question that! Baby Yoda can do it too!
Although, Abrams arbitrary rule for this, is that the Jedi has to give up part of his life to do it. Honestly, I can accept Force healing because Jedi powers kind of suck compared to Sith powers so it’s only fair they finally get something nice.
Kylo gets up and looks lost because Rey just jacked his ride. Then he has a talk with Harrison Ford. Kylo realizes that a lightbroadsword was always a pretty stupid idea and throws it away.
Rey flies off to Craggy Island, (yes, the fucking porgs make a cameo), where she is torching Kylo’s ride. She is angrily throwing driftwood at the burning TIE fighter. When she runs out of driftwood she throws her lightsaber at the raging fire. And in an epic middle-finger to Roundhead Johnson, Force Ghost Luke catches it, then says to Rey, “a Jedi’s weapon should be treated with more respect than that.” I strongly suspect Mark Hamill was fully erect when he spoke that line.
Old Luke is back now. He gives Rey a pep talk about not being evil and that she shouldn’t stay on Craggy Island unless she wants to learn to love milking the giant testicle-boob monster. Then he gives her…hang on to your beer for this one…Leia’s lightsaber!
In a quick flashback to an opening scene that got scrapped. We see a digitally de-aged Luke and Leia sparring. She beats Luke because vagina. She then quits being a Jedi because it was going to get her son killed. So she went off to follow her political career instead and completely ignored her son knowing he’d be safer that way.
Luke orders Rey to go to Not-Korriban, with both lightsabers, (he specifies that, that’s important).
“How can I?” Rey wails to the heavens. “I don’t have a secret map!”
“But you do!” Says, Ghost-Luke. And points out the not-holocron in the wreck of Kylo’s TIE fighter. Luke then memberberries his old X-wing out of the drink and tosses her the keys.
The Emperor calls Richard E. Grant and tells him that Kylo is a pussy so, he’s in command of the fleet now. Grant is super stoked to be serving a proper evil overlord again, instead of freaking Darth Emo and with one of Palpatine’s new stardestroyers, blows up a fucking planet.
I was laughing out loud at that point much to the outrage of the Star Wars Gamma Zombies that surrounded me.
Like the guys at RLM said, all that science fiction is to J. J. Abrams is an angry guy with a big space ship blowing up a planet. I was expecting it but it was still funny as hell when I saw it.
The Rebels decide they need to follow Rey to Not-Korriban. As luck would have it there is another secret fucking map to Palpatine’s crib in the hairdryer droid they found on Not-Tatooine.
There are only fifty of them attacking what looks like a million stardestroyers. But Po is sure that help will come this time because of the power of YES.
Into the home stretch here.
Rey is tempted to the Dark Side by Grandpa Palpatine. I forgot to mention she’s Palpatine’s granddaughter. Well, nobody else mentioned that possibility for five years so I think I can be forgiven for forgetting about it for a few paragraphs.
Now, Palpatine’s newest evil plan, which was his REAL plan all along, is for Rey to cut kill him and then his power will flow into her and she will rule the galaxy as evil Sith Empress.
The Rebels are losing, and if Rey kills Palpatine she can call off the attack. She is being tempted exactly like Luke was. And I mean exactly like Luke was. Precisely and in every little detail, she is being tempted like Luke was.
Kylo shows up at that point. He gets surrounded by his former peeps, the Knights of Ren and Rey Force Skypes him his mom’s blade. Kylo slices and dices while Rey has words with Grandpa.
Then the two of them face off against Palpatine, who has a NEW secret plan. Suck the life force out of the kids and just rule the Galaxy himself, forever, like any Boomer would do.
Granpa hucks Kylo into a pit. And blasts a shitload of Force lightning into the sky, EMPing the newly arrived Rebel fleet. Yeah, Po was right about that much good that it did him.
Rey gets another pep talk from all of the Jedi ghosts and she attacks Palpatine with both lightsabers. Turning Granpa’s own Force lightning against him, thus and finally, destroying the Emperor forever, unless they need him for another movie.
Then Rey dies. Kylo climbs out the pit and brings Rey back to life. Then Kylo dies. He vanishes before she can bring him back to life, so Kylo finally wins at something.
As celebration ensues across the galaxy as Rey goes off to Real Tatooine and buries Luke and Leia’s lightsabers together. She examines her new mega cool mustard-colored lightsaber and informs a passerby that her name is, “Rey Skywalker.” Thus completing her cucking of the entire Skywalker universe.
Audience barfs, the end.
So was there anything, I liked in this damn movie. Well, yes, here is a list of them.
One: The music score. Easily the best part of this movie. John Williams is 87, so this is probably his swan song and he absolutely killed it. The old guy brought his A-game. The only emotional reactions I had in this film were entirely his doing. I was also tickled pink that they gave him a cameo as a bartender.
Two: Leia’s funeral. One of these godawful films finally gave one of the original heroes a decent send-off. Everyone crowded around her shrouded form and one of the officers says, “farewell Princess.” That worked. And Chewbacca was touchingly heartbroken.
Three: The woketard SJWism got thrown in the happy box. No story killing sermons this time around. Although Abrams did throw the feminists a couple of bones here and there. There are female stormtroopers now. And a couple of decrepit lesbians swapped spit during the denouement celebration. But the SJWs are going to be pissed that anything escaped their clutches.
Four: I will grant with a full heart that the fight scenes in this movie are infinity superior to The Last Jedi. Abrams doesn’t know shit from shinola about writing a story but he knows his way around an action scene. The visuals, in general, were great. It’s Abrams only real strength but he does play to it.
Last: The Emperor. He just loves being completely evil. So did Richard E. Grant for that matter. I’m sorry they only had one scene together because they really played off each other.
Five things were it.
Now I accept that trying to fix the Rian Johnson’s godawful disaster was akin to one of the impossible tasks of Hercules. It wasn’t just a mess, it was a complete franchise destroying train wreck. Letting that Gamma wonder have free reign, rightfully earned Kathleen Kennedy the seething hatred of an outraged fanbase. Roundhead Rian destroyed forty years of universe building in the name of SJWism
Johnson had handed his successor the problem of having to make the third act of a story when he himself stuffed the third act into his own bloated monster of a film.
Abrams was taking on an impossible task in trying to salvage this trilogy and he failed completely. There is nothing that approaches a coherent narrative in this movie.
In truth, no one could have done it. The smart thing would have been to declare the Rey saga over with The Last Jedi and start a new set of films a hundred years into the future. But Disney couldn’t do that. They were over-committed to pursuing a disaster. And what made it folly was that everyone at Disney knew that was what they were doing but they couldn’t make themselves do anything else.
Like I said, no one could have saved it because there is no way to successfully polish a turd. But J.J Abrams cinematic buffoonery actually managed to make a terrible situation that much worse. Rian Johnson destroyed Luke Skywalker’s story and then Abrams destroyed Anakin Skywalker’s story by hand waving the Emperor back to life, thus negating his entire story of fall and redemption.
The Rise of Skywalker is like cotton candy. It looks amazing and smells tasty but if you bite into it there is nothing there but empty space and sugary grit.
Cataline does not recommend.