Picard and I watch The Rise of Skywalker - Richard Fox Author

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Picard and I watch The Rise of Skywalker

If you enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker, then congratulations. I’m glad the movie was worth your time and you left the theater with a smile on your face. However, I am not among your number.

I went into the film with hope. Hope that there’d be a course correction from The Last Jedi (which I hated with a passion) and that there’d be a new hope for Star Wars and the future.

Whelp…about that.

This movie is like a failed Thanksgiving dinner. Stay with me.

Imagine you bought a brand new turkey fryer to cook up a bird and you invite over a dozen friends and family for the big meal. You know you’ve got a great turkey. It’s been great since you were a child…

Alas, the fryer was defective and when it’s time to sit down and eat you pull out an undercooked mess of pink flesh with the texture of a dropped taco. And you forgot to remove the giblets when you threw it in the oil.

All your guests stare at the disaster on the serving plate that reeks of turkey guts. That’s what The Rise of Skywalker is like. It’s a Thanksgiving dinner to remember with pity and regret.

On a positive note, the cast did well. You get a few glimpses along the way hinting that the actors could have carried the movie if they had a competent series of writers and directors along the way to put together a coherent story line for them. But competence is not what we got out of JJ Abrams, Rian Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy.

Let’s start at the beginning, where we the audience are slapped in the face with Emperor Palpatine’s sudden return and the knowledge that he’s sending threatening tweets. The movie then hits the nitrous oxide engines and off it goes.

In this clip, Darth Helmet is the poor soul watching the first act of this movie:

Kylo Ren leap frogs to where the Emperor’s been hiding out for almost four decades and he’s instantly cool with being the Emperor’s bag man to being something something new Empire. Meanwhile, Ren is the Supreme Leader of the First Order and already the dictator/emperor of much of the galaxy. I’m not really sure what the Emperor had to offer, but he did have a copy pasted fleet of old Star Destroyers.

What an offer. But the movie has to happen so let’s not dwell so much on motivations.

Then, the movie becomes a video game with our plucky band of Rey, Finn and Poe aboard the Millennium Falcon searching for plot McGuffins that lead to other plot McGuffins that somehow get us to Not-Korriban, the home world of the Sith.

Now, where was this dynamic before? Because the three of them together was actually pretty fun to watch. They’re the Han, Luke, Leia stand ins and those three had a bond in the original trilogy. Here? Rey and Poe didn’t even meet until the end of TLJ. Two movies were wasted on their dynamic and now we the audience are supposed to push the I Believe button to buy that they’ve got a working relationship. So here we are and we don’t care about any of them together. What fun.

Meanwhile, Kylo Ren manages to pop up just in time to chase our heroes because he and Rey have a convenient plot device to link them together and give Kylo a nice big ‘OVER HERE’ sign to follow like a moth to a flame.

This movie’s filled me with a degree of ennui that’s saddening for the fact that I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about the characters. The plot. The resolution. This is supposed to be the end of the 9 film arc and I was as emotionally invested in it as I am whilst stuck in traffic. I was just waiting for it to end so I could get on to something else.

There was one good moment with Kylo and Rei on the blown up Death Star and I got a decent glimpse of how this story could’ve been told better. I had a glimmer of hope with now Ben Solo’s character arc…then the movie left him standing on a bit of artificial reef with no way off the planet.

Whoops. Great job popping your own balloon, JJ.

This movie just could not keep itself straight.

In the beginning, the Emperor wants Rey dead. Because reasons. He tells Kylo she has to die and that’s Kylo’s Final Boss, if you will. But then…the Emperor is happy when she arrives on Not-Korriban. Let’s her waltz right passed the CTRL+V fleet of star destroyers and into the Holy of Holies…where he wants her to kill him.

I’m sorry, but what in the actual fuck? Before this she has to die to something something the Jedi, now she’s the key to his complete return from the dry cleaning rack they’ve got him on. Did I miss something? Did Kylo and I not get the memo?

You know what? I’m done trying to make sense of this.

Let me get some glaring plot holes out of the way:

  1. The Emperor’s got his CTRL+V fleet, but no crews? The First Order’s response is to press gang children across the galaxy to serve in their navy and they’re going to turn all this around in the 16 hour ticking clock Palpatine’s mean tweets established?
    1. I’m going to quote the Critical Drinker and say ‘fuck off, film’.
  2. How the hell did the space horses for the ex-Storm Trooper cavalry get off Endor and onto an assault shuttle to attack the McGuffin tower?
    1. You know what, just reread that above sentence out loud. The whole thing is ridiculous but that’s the movie.
  3. The Emperor wanted little girl Rey and sent a hunter after her parents. This had to have happened after Palpatine’s ‘death’ in Return of the Jedi, because Rey isn’t that old. So if Palapatine wanted her to be his next vessel…why kill his son? Couldn’t his son have…you know. Been ‘it’. He was available. Killing the guy that’s the easy solution was just…why?
  4. What the hell’s with force ghosts? Is there anything they can’t do? Why not just have them all show up to fight Palpatine instead of leaving voice mails for Rey when she’s down and out and—fuck it. Just to hell with it.
  5. So Rey can use Force Heal from Knights of the Old Republic. Why didn’t Obi-wan use it to—why does JJ Abrams insist on removing death as an obstacle for his characters? There was Khan’s magic blood in Star Wars Into Darkness now Jedi can do the Mr. Miyagi palm rub and—fuck it.
  6. At one point the rebels say they need to do the Holdo Maneuver (*shudder*) to defeat the CTRL+V fleet and a character says that has a ‘one in a million’ chance of working. Cute how JJ tries to write out that little convenience. But wait! At the end of the movie we see a Star Destroyer that was Holdo’d above Endor. Which is it, JJ?

Not a plot hole, but at one point the movie has our heroes fighting a Giant Sky Beam. Yup. One of Micheal Bay’s signature film devices and here it is in Star Wars. I’m guessing JJ ran out of ideas. (https://www.listchallenges.com/every-movie-with-a-giant-sky-beams)

Ugh…the more I think about this movie the more I lose faith in art. It’s a disastrous end to a franchise that became the Great Myth in America’s subconscious. I’m going to derive more enjoyment from the reviews tearing it apart than seeing it in the theater and that’s a tragedy.

What a failure. Maybe George Lucas can buy the franchise back for a song.

Picard?

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Winner of the 2017 Dragon Award for Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy novel.

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