Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Star Wars - The Last Skywalker

When they started to talk about the last three Star Wars movies several years ago I thought it was a terrible idea to bring back the original cast and incorporate their stories with the stories of all the new characters the filmmakers hoped to introduce. That was a mistake. It burdened the new movies by having them live up to a legacy that they had not yet earned. That's a lot to put on a piece of entertainment that could not possibly live up to the love and reverence we original fans have for the first three films. Even the prequels were weakened by that same burden.

Just look at how good Solo and the Mandalorian are. All that was required of Solo was that he needed to meet Chewbacca and win the Millennium Falcon from Lando. Aside from that you could bring in anything and people would accept it. The Mandalorian has NOTHING we needed to bring from the past to tell his story. No baggage. No butt hurt fanboys.

Now The Rise of Skywalker is a mess full of characters we don't care about telling story that makes no sense, even if you have watched the previous two films, let alone the previous eight movies. I really don't care what happens to any of these people if I was honest. This one feels like it was created by a corporation without any vision following demands from long time fans. That is not the way to do justice to the most popular franchise on the planet. I should have been disappointed but in a strange way I was happy the way everything played out. Is it perfect? No? Is it as bad as the critics would have you believe? No again. Will I watch the final three movies and love them as much as I did the original trilogy? NEVER.

Why is Leia still around? Didn't she die? EXPLAIN THIS TO ME. I guess she did live but from what I remember she didn't survive her little trip into the cold vacuum of space. So if I don't remember her alive then the previous two films are totally forgettable to me.

The conversations feel like I have missed all that happened before and I was dropped into a world I barely remember or understand. But I was distracted by all the action and chaos and color in front of me. At times I wasn't burdened with questions about all the inconsitencies from the past eight movies because of all the pretty colors but is that what I needed. Haven't I seen all of this a billion times before?

Understand that to me, Star Wars is the closest thing to my heart so I don't talk about it often. Seeing that film for the first time changed my entire life so I had high expectations for this one as I did for the sequels and the prequels. Both let me down but maybe that wasn't anyone's fault because how do you make lighting strike twice more after the first trilogy. If you were there you know what I am talking about.

The film does a ton of Universe building by going overboard with the introduction of new creatures and new worlds that really should have started two movies ago. It seems like all these additions were done to make up for a lack of story which is inexcusable, especially with all the great Star Wars stories that have been written in the past twenty years to mine from. Most of the big emotional moments fall flat because none of the new characters have earned that rigth to have that big moment if that makes any sense. Except for Chewbacca. His story arc really broke my heart in the best way. Bravo. What a marvelous tribute to Peter Mayhew and the Wookies of the Star Wars Universe. I wish R2 got the same treatment. C3PO got some of his best moments ever.

I would have loved to see a great little sub mission by R2, BB8 and that new little Pixar like nightlight looking droid would have been very cool. I mean the film throws in constant moments of action so why not something more interesting than the same old space ship fights or light sabre fights or blaster fights or light sabre vs speeder fights with something cute and fun.

Also seeing Kylo Ren and Rey with new powers that I have ever heard that a Jedi or a Sith possessed is annoying. There has to be rules in every franchise and this one breaks them at will. Some people feel like they are smarter than any Star Wars fan - looking at you J.J. You had the same arrogance when you rebooted the Star Trek franchise. You tried to be all things to all people and the result is another convoluted mess. Like in the previous film he tried to appease everyone and ended up pleasing no one entirely. I suppose I should be happy that I enjoyed the film but I feel like I should have loved it and that I did not.

I wish only ONE person was in charge of the vision and direction of the whole trilogy.

Why is every armed character in this franchise such a bad shot? I know Stormtroopers can't hit the broad side of a barn but when a Jedi misses everything she shoots at I have to call bullshit.

On every occasion they arrive at a place exactly on time to succeed. They are never late. It's not like when Ozymandias told Dan and Rorshacht that he committed his great crime 35 minutes ago.

This movie is all about risk but the plan has a 100 percent chance of working no matter the odds. I worry more about Baby Yoda than I do for any of the new characters like Rey, Poe, or Finn. None of the major characters will die if they have more than 25 lines no matter how much risk they take. Every rescue is a last minute rescue. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Nothing is a surprise. Each character is the same character they were last movie and the movie before that. Even Rey, the one who the whole trilogy rests it's success on seems like an under developed character. At the end I didn't feel like I knew her at all.

If Rey can heal people why can't she bring Kylo back to life after he just brought her back to life? Did he really have to die? And speaking of Kylo, why have him make a fancy new helmet if it hardly gets worn? So many moments like that feel sudden and perfunctory. It's adding more and more to a story that is already chock full of everything and whatever passes for a kitchen sink in space.

Much of the stunt moments and cast return surprises don't generate the emotions that were intended. I blame J.J. He just doesn't have that ability to create those moments. This film seems almost cold and manufactured as it moves from big set piece to big set piece. There is no way to figure out the passage of time. How long did the events of the movie take. It's feels like everything happened over a weekend when in reality it would have taken YEARS for things to play out the way they did. At least months.

No one is ever seen eating or sleeping or even resting. No one is bored and looking for something interesting to do. Every moment of their lives exist at an '11'. No matter how many dangerous battles they find themselves in, they are never wounded, break a bone or have a visible scar that is healing poorly.

The action is exciting but it's nothing we haven't seen before. Racing through canyons I have seen a hundred times. Space ships flying around and somehow not hitting each other in all that chaos has been done to death. After nine movies it's hard to make a light sabre battle thrilling when you know they are both so good that they will never be able to defeat each other.

“It felt like The Rise of Skywalker was put together by reading angry Reddit boards, just throwing in anything a fan might possibly want to see.” – Mike Ryan, Uproxx

“The filmmaker commits the greatest sin of all: he co-opts his vision to appease first, and create second.” – Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

“It’s a flawed, messy film but it recaptures the spirit of adventure I love in Star Wars. There’s a corny innocence to the film… and it made me happy watching it.” – Rachel Wagner, rachelsreviews.net

So what do I think about the end of a part of the franchise that I love the best? The franchise that first charmed my heart and expanded my imagination and gave me a philosophy that I could believe in. I am so glad the Skywalker Saga Is Done. It can rest now. It is what it is and a good part of it is great. I hope over time it earns the love it deserves especially from the haters Star Wars brings people together in the best way. I was there at the beginning so I know. I feel blessed to have lived long enough to be there at the end.


BongoDon the Magnificent said...

Good review Calvin.
I hate these one of two sentence reviews by the text/Twitter generation.
Explaining what it is that you have a problem with, and why is so much better -what my teachers called 'constructive' criticism.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Thank you. I like to over explain how I feel about things.