Nobody hates Star Wars more than Star Wars fans, which makes sense in a weird, roundabout way. I mean, you actually have to care about something in order to get mad when it does something wrong, right? Otherwise, everyone’s reaction would be middling-indifference and not internet outrage.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has some of the lowest ratings for any Star Wars movie ever, only being beaten out by The Phantom Menace on Rotten Tomatoes. Measuring by audience score, it only moves up to about fifth-worst instead. What happened, and why does this cause the fans to foam at the mouth when anyone brings up Disney?
Although, let me clarify that this movie is entirely enjoyable. It’s entertaining with lots of flashy lights. Some of the jokes do land… although many do not. If you turn your brain off, there’s enough of a popcorn flick in here to enjoy with friends, just like you can enjoy Grande Vegas Casino Bonuses right now!
Rey, a scavenger girl from the world of Jakku, returns once again to be our main protagonist, and as one of the most divisive characters in the franchise. The term Mary Sue was thrown around a lot when The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi came out, but I was on the fence on how applicable that was at the time.
If you don’t know, Mary Sue is a term to describe self-insert characters who are so perfect the universe bends around the character because of how sheer amazing they are.
The term originated (as far as I know) from a fan-fiction character named Mary Sue, who was placed into the world of Star Trek, and all the main characters basically either gape at her awesomeness or fall in love at first sight.
The term has since expanded and describes a whole archetype of perfect, flawless, and completely entitled characters. Since the term is rather harsh for any character, I didn’t think it really applied to Rey.
Until this movie…
Rey is so perfect the movie has literally no stakes. The entire universe bends so far backward, it puts its head up its own butt to make room for the sheer magnitude that is Rey. Right at the beginning of the movie, Po Dameron runs up to Rey and shouts at her that, “You’re the BEST FIGHTER we’ve got! You should be out there with us, not training here!”
Rey has done literally nothing ever that proves this to be true, but that’s the movie’s attitude about Rey. Rey pulls more powers out of her butt than pre-crisis Superman. Rey can now Force Heal, levitate, and shoot lightning out of her fingers (albeit accidentally). She can literally DIE, and the plot will save her because she’s so amazing.
The movie tries to portray Rey as internally conflicted, but it comes off as so superficial. When the movie reveals that (MAJOR SPOILER) Emperor Palpatine is Rey’s grandfather, she starts going on and on about how tempted to the dark side she is, the evil lurking within, blah blah blah. Except she never does ANYTHING remotely evil in the entire franchise! The Disney marketing team would never allow her to.
By the way, I don’t blame the actress, Daisy Ridley. She’s been given a badly written character to play, and she doesn’t deserve any of the blame for that.
In my opinion, Kylo Ren is probably the best character in the Disney trilogy. Not a high bar, but still. His motivations for turning to the Dark Side are pretty justified, even if the circumstances surrounding his turning make no sense. He actually has to work to achieve anything, and his powers feel earned since he has been personally trained by two of the most powerful force users in the franchise (Luke Skywalker and, indirectly, Emperor Palpatine- I’ll explain that
However, this movie attempts to go for a redemption tale, where after having a chat with his dead father, Kylo decides to change his ways and joins Rey to fight Palpatine.
This has… problems. I mean, Kylo has been one of the most internally conflicted characters this trilogy has (or rather, the ONLY internally conflicted character this franchise has), but just like with Darth Vader, Kylo Ren is a MASS MURDERER. Aside from all the villages he ordered to be slaughtered, he personally killed his own father, his army has killed hundreds of rebel soldiers and arguably is indirectly responsible for the death of Luke Skywalker.
So when Rey and Kylo kiss, right before he dies to save her, can you understand why some fans are not on board with that at all?
Surprise! The Emperor himself is alive… somehow.
The movie never really explains this. It’s implied that Snoke, our Palpatine stand-in from the previous movie, was actually a Palpatine clone of some sort, not that THAT makes much more sense. Is Palpatine a clone? Then why is his body all screwed up? Wouldn’t a clone be full and whole, like the millions of Clones the franchise has had previously?
The movie opens with the mandatory text crawl, which just says that Palpatine is alive again and that he’s just about ready to launch his new-awesome-mega-fleet to conquer the galaxy. He broadcasts a message to the galaxy, “Surrender or Die.”
B- b- but… why would he ANNOUNCE that?! His fleet isn’t even operational yet since the Rebel plot to stop him is to stop his fleet before it takes off. Also, where does all the men, soldiers, and officers Palpatine suddenly have come from?
Who knows? Who cares? This movie sure doesn’t.
As part of Palpatine’s master plan, he orders Kylo to kill Rey. Why? Who knows, because it’s later revealed that Palpatine actually wants Rey ALIVE in order to transfer his soul into her body… because THAT’S a new power he can just do now.
JJ Abrams could have gone in so many directions with this, and it feels like he just made it up as he went along, and didn’t bother proof-reading his own script.
There are No Consequences- for ANYTHING
As I said, this movie is held together with duck-tape and bubble-gum, and it’s leaking. This movie does not even have the onions to follow through on any of the conflicts that it DOES set up!
There’s a rather dramatic scene where Rey is attempting to pull down a prison shuttle that Chewbacca is on using the Force, and she overexerts herself and releases lightning that arcs up and destroys the shuttle. A rather serious conflict, considering she just accidentally killed Chewbacca! Or at least, it would have been if it wasn’t revealed not TWO MINUTES LATER that Chewbacca was actually on a different ship the whole time!
This type of bait and switch happens MULTIPLE times throughout the movie, too.
In order to access a plot-relevant file inside of C3PO’s head, they have to wipe his memory. Oh, the tragedy- oh wait, R2D2 has a backup.
To take down an Imperial Command ship, Finn has to destroy it while he’s still onboard- oh wait, the Millenium Falcon swoops in to save him.
Po Dameron and half of the Rebel fleet get shot out of the sky by Palatine’s lightning storm- oh wait, they’re all fine five seconds later.
You could feel that this movie was really trying to make up for its predecessor, while at the same time fulfilling every fan theory about the movie, protecting its merchandise to appease the Disney overlords, AND pull the rug out from under the audience. It’s a chaotic mess that just shouldn’t exist in a franchise with a nine-digit-budget.