- Gareth Crook
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Well here we go again. I’ve been putting this off, but it’s been sat taunting me on my Apple TV for weeks now. I’ve watched everything else, so it’s now time for Star Wars. I don’t like any of the new films, the first original 3 that I enjoyed as a child are fine. Good guys, bad guys, cool spaceships, when I was 10, fine. The reboot Jar Jar and Clone stuff was bloody awful and so far these latest films (I’ve lost count how many there have been) have been dull, boring, unimaginative shite. BUT... I’ve heard (I think) that this one is good. I’m praying I’ve heard that right, because at nearly two and a half hours, I can’t take another predictably pointless plot line. My expectations are at an all-time low, but I’m open and hopeful. There are a myriad of aliens of course, one with an British accent that is ridiculously comical. Big furry ones, little ones that wear welding masks and rewire C3-PO, some little hamstery things with big doe eyes and something that looks like ET’s mum. An opening scene that’s full on smashy, whooshy, flighty shenanigans kicks things off. The sound effects dialled up to ludicrous, although I have to say the sound is wonderful. Adam Driver gets a new helmet and nazi-esque coat and there’s a weird Burning Man style festival in the desert, that culminates in a speeder chase that gets a bit Mad Max with flying Storm Troopers “They fly now”. I’m genuinely concerned when the bad guys capture Chewy, the giant walking rug is the best thing in it. Richard E. Grant and Domhnall Gleeson are criminally underused, both mere bit parts, but then my feeling is this film works better because there’s not quite as much focus on the dark side. The dark side you see is one dimensional, take over the universe blah blah. I’m not saying the good guys are more nuanced, but at least there’s a little more scope. I sigh as it’s revealed we have yet more family ties between the main players, I’m utterly bored of this hackneyed plot device, but then this franchise it all about ruthlessly mining its assets. We get a beat up, partially sunken in the sea Death Star, the setting for a centrepiece lightsaber battle and provides a counterpoint to a poignant goodbye to Carrie Fisher, which I’m really not sure how I feel about. Then Harrison Ford shows up, just a memory and not for long, but his hair looks good. Lando Calrissian makes an appearance as a confused grandad character, as does a holographic Skywalker, who commited to just a few minutes for his pay day. This stuff all signals the boring, let’s get spiritual gunf and if anyone involved in cutting this had any sense, this is where they should’ve been merciless. There’s a lot of ‘well that’s handy’, need a vehicle?... ‘here’s my old X-Wing’, but how do we find the bad guys?... oh they made 2 of the wayfinder satnav devices. There’s zero peril, zero tension, zero chance the bad guys will win, this is Star Wars after all. We play the game though, a half hour finale that begins with a cavalry charge across the top of a star destroyer... in space... no spacesuits... no oxygen? Makes no sense, but don’t get hung up on such silliness. Rey gets her big showdown against irritatingly strobe lit Emperor Palpatine and a crowd of hooded Sunn O))) fans. She’s in a pickle, but Adam Driver has decided that maybe black isn’t his colour after all, but is it enough? ‘Oh no, it’s going tits up’. Cue maximum John Williams, cue more old faces (that dude from the X-wing fight in one of the first films), cue that woman who’s dressed as a power-ranger, cue Richard E. Grant looking bewildered as the cringe factor goes bonkers, cue a endless sea of backup rebel fighters, a montage of ghostly voices, yes including Yoda, a ‘my sword is more powerful than your sword’ exclamation, the Sunn O))) fans shit themselves and the Ewoks celebrate. As we reach the final coda, it feels like we’re done, this story is finally finished, no need to return. Please let it be so. I doubt it though, they’ll find cash generating spin offs and the fan boys will lap it up. The best thing here is the sound. Close your eyes and this would be much more entertaining, but to be fair I didn’t hate it. It’s pacing is much better, the plot less muddied, although still trying to be more challenging than its capable of. It’s fun though, with more than enough to make me chuckle and stay engaged... and the Wookie survives!