Sunday, December 29, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I enjoyed Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi for bringing new things to Star Wars, and for having something interesting to say about how to negotiate the relationship between present and past. While not everything in The Last Jedi worked (particularly the Poe and Finn plots), it excelled in paralleling Rey and Ben, and created an interesting conflict by allowing them to understand each other’s perspectives, which led them to feel a complicated mix of sympathy and antipathy for one another. I left The Last Jedi excited to see how the next film in the series would build off of their conflict.

J.J. Abrams’s The Rise of Skywalker capitalizes on some of this potential, but unfortunately, it does so through a hefty dose of retroactive continuity that often undermines what made The Last Jedi so compelling. It also repeats and magnifies some of The Last Jedi’s faults, along with some of the nagging annoyances of The Force Awakens, particularly that entry’s penchant for rehashing elements of the earlier films. There are still some good things in The Rise of Skywalker, and on the whole the good outweighs the bad, but by a much smaller margin than in the two preceding films. After the highs of The Last Jedi, the lows of The Rise of Skywalker are resoundingly disappointing.