The Rebeletubbies (R2D2, Chewie, Lando, Poe) are back in Star Wars: Episode IX – Rise of the Planet of the Skywalkers.
A long time ago people cared about Star Wars. That was before the Greedos at Disney decided to disseminate the franchise like it’s going out of style, and then it did. It seems obvious now that Disney’s MCU occupies the exact same place in pop culture that Star Wars used to, so trying to bring it back is like having an argument with yourself and losing.
One thing these new instalments have never been though (apart from Solo) is boring, and that’s the problem with The Rise of Skywalker. Its lack of plot, characterisation and imagination makes it fall as flat emotionally as it does comedically. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is trying to discover who she is as Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) tries to kill her, resulting in a few lightsaber duels in different environments and not much else.
Most scenes seem to end with Poe (Oscar Isaac) yelling, “We need to get out of here, now!” before flying the gang to the next location where they stay for a couple of minutes before repeating the process: Poe says go then they bounce. It makes it hard to know why or what they’re doing at any given moment, exacerbated by choppy editing that’s incoherent to the point of experimental.
The film has the insurmountable task of course-correcting after the divisive The Last Jedi, paying compensation via fan service and concluding the trilogy. JJ Abrams is back at the helm, returning to the safe territory of The Force Awakens and hiding away the frankly more interesting weirdness of The Last Jedi like the Tories hid Liz Truss during the election campaign. Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) for instance has made a miraculous recovery from being dead.
That said Avengers: Endgame arguably had a greater challenge and succeeded, making Skywalker‘s failure one of execution. Aside from Rey and to a lesser extent Kylo Ren (both brilliantly acted), the picture abandons characterisation and storytelling. Poe and Finn (John Boyega) are given little to do, while Richard E. Grant is like Jeremy Corbyn at that wreath laying ceremony: present but not involved.
Episode IX is a movie that wants to please everyone but unlike Anakin’s Podracer, it’s not working. It is an end to Star Wars, just probably not the kind they were going for.