Star Wars: The rise of mediocrity

JJ Abrams helms the finale of the Skywalker saga with love… and technical difficulties

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a messy movie, but it’s a movie with heart. It’s almost impressive how it balances being nearly incomprehensible and yet a satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker Saga.

The elements of The Rise of Skywalker that didn’t sit well were technical, which is surprising considering Star Wars is a multibillion-dollar franchise, giving it the ability to hire the best in the industry to improve every aspect of the film. The editing was choppy to a point where it ruined the emotional value of its scenes. The pacing was too fast, with each scene jumping to the next leaving the audience without time to breathe. I didn’t feel as though I was even spending time with the characters, which is a large part of why most people are there. However, the screenplay is where everything went wrong from the start.

Much of the dialogue was so overly-expository to a point where I kind of feel bad for the cast. But these talented actors were forced to say these simplistic, explanatory lines because of the greatest flaw of the film: it was not related to its previous two films enough that anything in the film felt warranted. Its major plot points and McGuffins (physical objects used as plot devices) seemed like they were made up on the spot with no connection to the rest of the trilogy. It made the film feel poorly thought out and lazy.

There was a surplus of “crisis” moments where it seemed like all was lost for a character, then whatever went wrong was almost immediately corrected a few minutes later, taking away from any genuine drama or investment. In simple terms, it felt cheap. Star Wars is all about the characters, their journey and their struggle with the light and dark forces of life. It’s hard to do that when you fill the movie with unnecessary action, unrealistic dialogue, poor writing and an editor who cuts every scene like it’s a Transformers movie.

That said, the film managed to find ways to save itself. Rey has excellent character development as she struggles with her past and her relationship with the force. The emotion that her character brought to the film felt deserved since it was properly established in earlier films. Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron and Finn had fairly good development as well and brought tension, charm, humour and spirit to the story. They’re interesting enough to keep you invested, and the relationships between each character redeem the film for me. On an emotional level, it’s like the fundamental ideas were there, but were assembled together so poorly at every stage of production.

At heart, The Rise of Skywalker is an emotional movie for die-hard Star Wars fans. A fan’s love for and devotion to Star Wars and its characters save the film, but it’s a film that would not work if it didn’t have “Star Wars” in the title. Its flaws are really integrated into the film and the trilogy, but the characters were well-developed and fun to be around.

Watch it if you’re a Star Wars fan, or even if you just like the new trilogy, but if Star Wars isn’t your thing, then don’t bother. Its appeal comes from its fan service.


The Mandalorian: Untold tales in a galaxy far, far away

 Star Wars lives on in Disney+

Set five years after the Return of the Jedi, the Disney+ original takes the viewer on a journey alongside an unknown character who is addressed as The Mandalorian, referred to as Mando, seemingly being his sole alias. The title character wears a helmet that is eerily similar to Boba Fett’s during the original Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983).

The first episode of the Mandalorian takes us to a cantina, located on Arvala-7, a remote desert planet, where the protagonist walks towards the bar to get a drink. A fight breaks out and Mando takes care of the men in the altercation without much trouble.

The title character is a ruthless, cold loner. There is no explanation nor peek in his backstory, which is quite an enigma, as members of the audience are often offered a flashback to explain why the character acts in a certain way. It is another side of the Star Wars universe, which makes it interesting and fascinating to the viewer – it definitely was for me.

In the usual Star Wars fashion, the protagonists are often good and have a desire to stand up to an evil regime – it is completely different here. It is a lawless and chaotic galaxy, which is unseen and unprecedented. Something that makes Mando different, contrary to Greedo, the bounty hunter we met during A New Hope, is that he doesn’t kill his mark, he only takes them to his employer.

Mando has different motivations as a bounty hunter other than killing or a thrill from power, contrary to those who worked under antagonists, such as Jabba the Hutt or Boba Fett. Although Mando’s morals fall in the grey zone, though he has a human side that few get to see. This side of the limitless universe that we see isn’t only fascinating, but it teaches that what makes someone evil isn’t their circumstances – it is up to the person to decide how to act. Your circumstances do not determine who you are, we always have a choice.

In my opinion, as a lifelong Star Wars fan, Jon Favreau  is doing amazing so far with the four episodes that I’ve seen. The cinematography maintains the classic Star Wars movie aesthetic, from the transitions used to the colour scheme. However, the pacing of the episodes is slower, and there are no central Jedis. This is what makes the show so intriguing: it’s different from the movies, all while still being true to the franchise.

Although the main movie saga is going to end on Dec. 20 with its ninth movie, The Rise of Skywalker, with this series, it still feels like Star Wars will live on. There are so many other worlds and characters to explore. Disney+ may just be the perfect medium for that purpose.


Illustration by @joeybruceart

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