“The spark… is out.”

Star Wars has always been a huge cornerstone in my life. It was one of my gateways into the art of filmmaking at a young age and the saga’s universal themes have always meant a lot to me. That being said, I have always hated being part of the Star Wars fanbase, which is one of the most vitriolic and toxic groups of people I have ever witnessed. So called Star Wars fans have belittled filmmakers for their creative vision, taunted actors to the point of affecting their mental health, etc. Star Wars fans quite literally don’t deserve Star Wars. The “fans” are finally getting their way with Star Wars Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.

In what feels like the total antithesis and a slap in the face to Star Wars: Episode VIII  – The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson’s brilliant deconstruction of the myth, writer/director J.J. Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio not only ignore it, but try to act like it never happened altogether. Ditching real nuance for what feels like an antiquated Reddit fan theory, the film is an absolutely embarrassing way to end 40+ years of industry defining storytelling.

In the early moments of the film, there is an eye rolling retcon from the last film through the form of an exposition dump, and as soon as I witnessed it, I thought, “okay, this is how it’s gonna be then, I guess.” (The exposition dumps don’t go away for the rest of the film.) To add insult to injury, one of the biggest reveals in the movie made me audibly blurt out something in anger because of how much it felt like borderline self parody.

I’ve always defended the artistic merit of Star Wars compared to other blockbusters today (including the standalone films). There’s a feeling of craft, risk, and passion that separates Star Wars from something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But The Rise of Skywalker just feels so cynical and mean spirited to the point where it feels safe and soulless. That’s something that genuinely upsets me deeply.

There are short bursts of greatness, from the visuals, cinematography, acting, and chemistry between everyone. Watching the main trio (Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac) play off of each other and some uses of nostalgia/fan service are minor highlights. Even then, though, the overall use of nostalgia/fan service in this film feels egregious and weaponized as opposed to its use in The Force Awakens which felt right. Senior John Bizub said, “It felt like J.J. Abrams didn’t learn from Rian Johnson’s bold and progressive risks and made a safe and disappointing finale to 40+ years of great storytelling.”

I thought that this would be a surprising and emotional sendoff to the beloved Star Wars saga. Unfortunately, by the time the end credits rolled, I had felt nothing during the “surprises” and was questioning both the film and myself during the “emotional” moments. Compare that to the previous film in the saga, where I went bananas at the genuine surprises while wiping away tears during the genuinely emotional moments.

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(pictured from left) Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

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(pictured from left) John Boyega, Joonas Suotamo, Daisy Ridley, Anthony Daniels, and Oscar Isaac in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of SKywalker

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

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Justin Landsman

Co-Editor in Chief


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