I Weep For Cinema

Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker (2019)

So, I know when this movie came out a few months ago, it was torn to shreds by pretty much everyone. I heard rumblings of the “big twist” and sadly kinda got it spoiled for me… thanks jerks of the internet. But, that twist wasn’t the issues that I saw people have with the film. But I reserved my opinion until I saw it for myself. And now that I have seen all Star Wars movies, and watched them all in chronological order within the last two and a half months, I now feel up to the task to talk about this one…. (sigh) Here we go.

After seeing how much hate there was for Last Jedi, and not watching it for over two years, I was actually excited, and with being stupidly sick with my wife on New Years, we marathoned all Star Wars movies on Disney+ (Not even on my Plex that has Fan Edits). I know what a “Bad” Star Wars movie is, and it’s Phantom Menace. Nothing comes close to being as awful, sure Attack Of The Clones tries, but fails miserably compared to that heaping pile of complete trash. 

I went into Last Jedi expecting it to be on the levels of the Prequels, and I was kinda baffled when I finally saw it. Sure there were pointless things, like the Porges which felt like a comic relief that never got any traction, and the fact that Luke felt like a huge dishonor to his character in the original trilogy, but nothing so bad as to say it was a bad movie. I, in fact, liked it a great deal, I enjoyed it much more than Force Awakens, so when I sat down and watched Rise of Skywalker tonight, I was going to take everything with a grain of salt. 

As the movie started I immediately found the two major flaws with the movie. For the first half, everyone is trying to one up each other with a quippy one liner, like everyone binged every 80’s action movie and TV show and tried to come up with some new catch-phrase every scene. This is partially the Marvel Cinematic Universes fault. The MCU, over the last 13 years has turned every superhero into Spider-Man, and every dialogue scene to force breakneck comedic banter. Yeah, Iron Man had his moments, but remember he was a D lister at best until 2008. Even with the new Spider-Man movies, because of the last decade, most of the “funny” moments belong to the side characters, Spidey rarely has the best lines or comebacks now, because everyone else is trying to have his sense of humor.

It seems like the executives over at Marvel gave Disney a couple studio notes about punching up that dialogue a bit. Beaucase everyone’s a comedian in this movie. Everyone, even the CGI’d princess. It just gets eye rolling out of the gate, as it feels very forced and unnatural that everyone has to get their own personal funny line, even in the midst of sheer death.

The second, and honestly film-breaking issue was the pacing. Everything is moved at such a pace that nothing has time to land. As soon as a planet blows up, we are off to the next chase scene. Billions died, and we have no clue even what just happened, because we are whisked away to another plot point. That person just died? Who cares, we have to get back to the comedy!

This felt like two movies edited together into a TV movie length. Certain scenes felt completely out of place and there must have been easily an hour of just small 5-8 seconds clips trimmed off the beginning and end of every single scene. 17 single things are happening at any given moment, and nothing has time to breathe. It felt like the movie was edited by the dictionary definition of “MTV editing”. Even the more heavy and weighted scenes felt rushed, like everyone was watching the clock to hit 5pm so they could all flee from the set and go home for the day. 

In all honesty, I actually liked the movie quite a bit. No, I didn’t care for the Palpatine being alive, although Siths have come back from the dead in the extended universe before, but Palpatine being so frail and old for so long, and just being all together un-interesting made it a bit boring for him to be the big bad yet again. Having Rey be his granddaughter was lame and felt like a cop-out, but honestly I wasn’t expecting really much good writing for these characters after the last couple movies. I didn’t care much about most of these characters at all in fact, and the reason being, is that the movie doesn’t either.

So much focus is on Luke, even though he isn’t even in the 1st or 3rd one that much, that everyone is basically in an episode of the itchy & Scratchy show. Every time Luke isn’t on screen everyone should be asking “Where is Luke?” or for the youngins, any of the 95% of DBZ episodes where everyone is just waiting around for Goku. The “main characters” of these new Star Wars movies are secondary to the main plot. 

For what the movie is, it’s… ok. Not amazing, but not insanely awful like Phantom Menace. Nothing will ever come close in cinema. Ever. But at the end of the day, Rise of Skywalker is a poorly handled movie. It suffers a bit from the Spider-Man 3 syndrome. Too much in too little time. Even at the lofty 2.5 hour mark, there was just too much stuff crammed into this movie. So many unnecessary scenes and characters. Even at the very VERY beginning of the movie, as it starts, our intrepid heroes are aboard the Millennium Falcon trying to get some info about an Imperial Spy and they have several crew members on board we have never seen before. They scream and get in the way and even interact with the main characters like they have been part of the trilogy the entire time. It’s honestly just weird, they don’t introduce us to these characters in the slightest, like we shouldn’t care about them. 

Or we can just talk about the shoehorned in cameos for just a split second. Seriously, like we were all supposed to just accept that Merry and the pilot from the first episode of Lost is now part of the resistance?! Nothing felt more like these actors were superimposed using a homemade green screen and inserted digitally in anything ever. It felt like a joke that we were supposed to laugh at, yet I don’t think we were.

Again, I don’t hate the movie, I liked it for what it was, but… and there is a big but. I want to talk about this movie’s big but. But, it could have been absolutely amazing with just a different edit. Instead of rushing every single scene, instead of smash cutting to something else entirely, they could have given the movie some breathing room. Some small establishing shots to tell us where we were and letting us just take a moment to really soak in everything. The example I used earlier, where the planet gets blown up. Even though we have seen it before, even back in 1977, that should have had an emotional impact. Something to make us go “oh no, this evil empire is just blidly commiting mass genocide of entire planets!” Something to take our breath away. But the movie didn’t want us to breathe at all. 

Go back and just watch any scene from New Hope and do two things. One, time how long the scene is, second, count how many cuts there are. I dare you. Then go to Rise of Skywalker and do the same thing. I bet guarantee you New Hope has quadruple the time and a fifth of the cuts. That’s what’s wrong with cinema today. Everything has to be chopped and sliced into a fine mince instead of editing where needed. If we truly want to tell stories, just tell the stories. Let the actors do their job. No one in real life has the exact right thing to say and the exact right moment every single time. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a conversation with someone at lightning speed, because that’s unrealistic. Yet movies act like everyone isn’t allowed to take a breathe in between conversation with another person. 

Letting these scenes play out normally, and a regular speed, and dropping the comedic style in favor of something more of an adventure, where people’s words have actual meaning… It would have vaulted this movie into a modern all time great. But, instead we got a ho-hum similar movie like everything else now. This movie doesn’t stand out, because it’s too much like anything playing in the theater right this moment.