Basically: It wouldn’t be bad if The Last Jedi wasn’t a thing- hear me out.
Summary: J.J. Abrams pretends The Last Jedi never happened.
Off the bat- I’m not mad at this movie, there are several things I liked. I wasn’t a huge fan of the whole Palpatine thing, but you know, I dealt. What I don’t like about this movie is that is basically ignores everything the last movie did, and therefore it just doesn’t work as a trilogy, which I find incredibly disappointing and I hold this last installment responsible for that. I’m sad that I have to hold this one responsible for the failure of the trilogy, but the bulk really does fall on the decisions to swerve away from The Last Jedi rather than embrace the challenges it presented, in an attempt to stay safe and fan-happy. I was fully on board with Force Awakens, I was miffed at The Last Jedi, but here’s the thing- I was willing to go along for the ride. I was willing to see how they solve the newer problems presented by Rian Johnson. He did a pretty good job of tossing everything in the air and making it a more unpredictable series, and it would have been fun to see those play out. I wanted to see if Rise could stick the landing.
And it didn’t. It basically was an on-screen “We heard you fans were really upset so we’re going to try and fix it,” double downing on the fan service and going back to familiarity rather than giving us a true series. You can basically watch Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker back-to-back and not lose a beat, but then where does The Last Jedi fall? I don’t think it’s worse than Game of Thrones, simply because they had a pretty easy roadmap laid out for them and it was poor planning on their part, but it’s pretty similar.
Also, I want to know how quickly D&D got fired from Star Wars because a lot of the elements from GOT seemed to make their way in there. A THRONE (that is then destroyed)!? A female protagonist who can be either the best or most evil ruler of all time!? A crowd that chants like the Sons of the Harpy!?
There are other things to be disappointed in- I don’t think I’ve ever seen more MacGuffins in a single movie than this one. There is thin character development and the story relies on plots and location changes rather than dynamics. And let’s namedrop the Jar Jar Binks-ing of Rose Tico (“You didn’t like this major character so we’ll phase her out”), the non-existent arc of Finn (the new Jon Snow, starting with so much purpose and then just ending with nothing). Then of course, other things to legitimately ponder: how the hell did Lando corral all those folks if Leia’s pleas fell on deaf ears? Planet destroyers are travel-size now? Ghosts are corporeal? Why can that one non-C3P0 droid speak English? I’d be okay with those above things had Palpatine not come back. It could have been so much more interesting, but it leaves the whole thing feeling tired and lazy.
“Man, what did you like?” GREAT question. I know I’ve been complaining, but honestly, I was into most of this movie. I liked that battle on the sea a whole lot. The Poe/Finn bromance is always a good time. The troop of ex-Storm Troopers and the festival in the desert, I dug it. Babu Frik is basically me in small alien form. Everything with Rey was good, including her scavaging aka the closest I’ll ever get to seeing Daisy Ridley as Lara Croft, and I still consider her one of my favorite heroines of the last decade. I liked the whole Rey and Kylo thing. They should have just stuck with that the whole way through.
I’m not mad, just disappointed.