‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Blu-Ray Review: Sloppy, Satisfying Finish To Trilogy
Sometimes it feels like the phrase “love it or hate it” was created just for the newest trilogy of Star Wars movies. Rian Johnson‘s entry into the franchise incited one of the most divisive responses to a film in the 21st century, leaving director J.J. Abrams left with the impossible burden of tying everything up all while ruffling as few feathers as possible.
More or less, he succeeded. I have great sympathy for Abrams here — whether or not I liked The Last Jedi or not, I must admit that it really didn’t advance the plot at all. Abrams and screenwriting partner Chris Terrio had to shove nearly a trilogy’s worth of plot into a single film and deserve a fair amount of credit for even trying.
Consequently, it’s both impossible to discuss the plot of the film without spoilers and somewhat futile even to try and discuss it at all. Every single thing that happens simply services the film’s ability to come to a semi-satisfying conclusion, not to inspire some meaningful moments of introspection in its audience. While few audience members will know exactly where the film is going, even fewer will be genuinely surprised with the turns the story takes.
Thankfully, Star Wars has always had much more to offer the viewer than plot alone. Abrams showcases a number of beautiful and exciting locations and setpieces sure to inspire toy and video game tie-ins for decades to come. Things move so quickly that it’s difficult to tune in on any performances, but Daisy Ridley continues to hold her own as Rey, giving the film a likable protagonist whose consistency allows for some much-needed cohesion.
Adam Driver undoubtedly adds the most to his material, playing Kylo Ren with a conflicted demeanor that allows the audience to experience his changes in perspective on loyalty and lineage as they happen. Oscar Isaac remains weirdly underused, reserved for delivering what seem like Han Solo’s cut lines from the original trilogy. John Boyega gives his usual best as Finn, but the film really just doesn’t care about him all that much.
There is just too much in this movie. Individual scenes and characters succeed but are dragged down by the movie’s insistence on moving to the next scene as quickly as possible. The truly absurd pacing of it all leaves Abrams and Terrio relying a bit too much on clichés (an ancient undecipherable script! a secret map to a hidden object of great value!) but the overall effect is still a satisfying one, at least for the casual fans among us.
For the more hardcore fans, the specials found on the Blu-Ray will be more than enough. Included is The Skywalker Legacy, a feature-length documentary on the making of the film as well as a number of shorter pieces on more niche aspects of the movie, like Warwick Davis‘s returning to the screen as an Ewok — this time joined by his son.