Summary: Do not see this film. Instead hit the tip jar on the left sidebar, then stay home and watch a great old film. You will save a few bucks and not waste several hours of your life.
The original Star Wars trilogy will become classics, watched 50 years from now. The Force Awakens re-told Star Wars for a new generation, as is routinely done with myths. It serviceably compressed the original trilogy into one film. Why not, since we already know the story? It did so according to the canons of our time (e.g, the leading character is a Mary Sue).
Next came The Last Jedi – B-grade sci-fi with weak acting, turgid dialogue, and a bizarre plot – the Hollywood machine running on its default setting. Turn out product for the peons and grab the cash. Rise of Skywalker is more of the same. The plot consists of quests, the most over-used of stale plot devices. The Scooby gang must find a dagger, do stuff to translate its inscription, then find a pyramid-shaped thing. At each step there is a shoot-out with their pitiful enemies, whom they mow down like wheat. Most of the film’s action is as pointless as the excursion to Las-Vegas-planet in The Last Jedi, showing the writers’ total lack of imagination.
The film’s structure and action are that of a video game. Lots of running, jumping, and shooting, plus many long lightsaber fights (which J. J. Abrams considers fascinating). Things happen for no reason. The Force is now magic; the new super-Jedi-SIth pull whatever magic the scene demands from their asses. Bizarre coincidences – one after another – drive the plot. There is no sense of time or space (the galaxy appears to be as large as Iowa City). Much of the action is idiotic. The film appears to have been designed by writers brainstorming ideas, all of which went into the film in the order in which they were written on the white board.
Remember the thrilling scene in the trailer when a space fighter zooms at high speed towards Rey, skimming a few feet off the ground. We learn that was Kylo and he wasn’t going to kill her. OK, what was his intention? To tousle her hair?
The major characters are boring, as is their dialog (the worst I can recall in a major film). They lack the character development that drove the first trilogy. The key Rey – Kylo relationship is that of bickering wise sister and her impetuous weak brother, which drains the plot of tension. Worst of all: the super bad guy did not read his copy of Peter Anspach’s “The Top 100 Things I’d Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord.”
- All slain enemies will have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not just be left for dead.
The big plot driver is Rey’s ascension to godhood. Literally so. She is like Jesus, but with no explanation of why she seems more powerful than the previous thousand generations of Jedi. She makes Yoda, with his 900 years of experience, look like a padawan. What kind of regime will the Galactic Republic Mark 3 have, with six people around the Cabinet table – and Jesus?
Role of women in the new Star Wars saga
“Ridley has to spend another adventure staring with pensive urgency, dutifully waiting to find out what character she’s playing.”
— Darren Franich at Entertainment Weekly.
Science fiction has long given leading roles to women. In Flight to Mars (1951), two of the five scientists shown were women – and equal to the men. But science fiction films often drag, and handsome men and hot women helped keep the audience’s interest. Lucas followed this tradition in the original Star Wars, allegedly telling Carrie Fisher (Leia) that there were “no bras in space.” And so it was. But now “pandering to the male gaze” is an insult to women.
Naomi Ackie as Jannah. Not exciting, or even interesting.
Contrast the portrayal of the women in Skywalker – sexless outfits, boring demeanor – with that of the men. The actresses are prisoners of the canons of socialist realism theater. Daisy Ridley’s flat affect is boring (not as bad as Brie Larson in Captain Marvel, quite unlike Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman).” I suspect critics applaud Ridley’s performance for political reasons. Politics dominates many of the reviews (see below). But Oscar Isaac as Poe and John Boyega as Finn are macho, showing a wide range of expressions. This, of course, reflects the film’s writing and direction, not the relative appearances or skills of the actors and actresses.
From Flight to Mars(1951).
Also a simple plot, but it held my interest during the slow parts.
Ditto for the relations between the characters. The first Star Wars films had a strong romance. Now everybody must be comrades in the great project, without bourgeois emotionalism. This gives it the emotional heft of a grade school play.
Reading the critics was more fun than watching the film.
Most critics reluctantly spend a few words discussing Skywalker as a film. Instead they are connoisseurs of CGI and abstractions. The reviews have much vague verbiage about the different directors’ visions, and if they are sufficiently unique and subverting.
Most critics blame “fanboys” and “fan service” for the film’s weaknesses, as if the audience forced the writers to produce schlock. Those darn proles – men! – ruining the work of Hollywood’s artistes! They are supposed to pay for the PC entertainment they are given and obediently applaud. Many critics scream about those “racists and sexists”, as critics practice their new roles as mutaween (Saudi religious police) enforcing Leftists’ version of Hisbah (prescribe good and forbid wrong). Two examples of this …
- “Lunatics in MAGA hats took endless digs at The Last Jedi ….” (Source.)
- “After experiencing Donald Trump, Palpatine is corny not intimidating.” (Source.)
There were some fun reviews, often more creative than the film. Two examples …
“The most significant answers are blurted out mid-film with little effort made to prepare or to dramatise. It’s as if some passer-by yelled “Rosebud? It was a sledge” halfway through Citizen Kane. …Nobody is ever really dead in this universe. …By the close one half-expects to see Bambi’s mother return.” (Donald Clark in The Irish Times.)
“The movie consists of a bunch of random events and, if you pause long enough to consider things like plot and motivation (something you’re not supposed to do), it becomes evident that most of the movie doesn’t make any sense. Add to that an anti-climactic ending, scattershot editing, and too many extraneous characters …. The Rise of Skywalker feels like something that was slapped together without much concern for logic, consistency, or coherence.” (James Berardinelli at ReelViews.)
If you are over 18 and watch the film, you will thank The Force when it ends. If it makes a billion dollars, Disney’s financial engineers will be proven right – and all future films will be made just as cans of dog food are manufactured (keep it clean, sell it fast). This would be a loss to America. Films are in some ways the major media by which we communicate our national myths to a new generation. Hollywood totally abandoning that will leave us weaker.
For more information
- A philosopher reviews “The Phantom Menace”, a great film with hidden depths.
- The Force Awakens is a film for Boomers. It’s about us.
- The horrifying list of inspirational films about humanity building a better future.
- The Last Jedi is a finely manufactured product!
- My review, part One: passing the torch between screw-up Boomers and great Millennials.
- My review, part Two: girls rule, giving a New Hope to the galaxy!
- See “Solo”, a Star Wars film that says much about America.
See the trailer!