Holy shit, you are not going to believe this, but I found The Rise of Skywalker to be entertaining as hell!... No, not in the way that Disney, Lucasfilm, JJ Abrams, and Kathleen Kennedy hoped that I would (meaning they hoped I found it fun and awesome and super cool!), but instead in the "Star Wars Holiday Special, amazingly shitty, can't-believe-what-I'm-seeing kind of way."
The Rise of Skywalker is an absolute train-wreck of a movie (not only as a stand-alone flick, but also as the final part of the sequel trilogy, as well as the final-final movie in the nine-part "Skywalker Saga"). Almost nothing in this movie makes a lick of sense in any sort of movie logic or even basic Star Wars logic, and the final third of this turd is the biggest kick to the pants, shit-in-your-mouth, hate-its-own-fans kind of movie that The Last Jedi only DREAMED of being. But tRoS was also so goddamn funny that I couldn't stop laughing. I had The Chief constantly elbowing me in the ribs during the entire runtime of this flick trying to get me to stop or keep it down. I simply could not stop chuckling or cease my bellowing laughter at the terrible jumps in logic, bad lines of dialogue, or straight-up disrespect for the original trilogy that this movie was pulling. It was staggeringly terrible.
I already had over 6,500 words written for this review prior to even seeing the movie for myself. In that pre-review, I dove into the plot leaks and all behind-the-scenes drama at Lucasfilm regarding this movie and its production for the past 6 months... But after seeing this thing I'm trashing all that copy and just going with my gut on this one.
Granted, there is enough shit to discuss regarding the six different (hated) endings that they wrote, filmed, and showed to test audiences (which got leaked to the internets), the way they called in George Lucas to help them nail the story in this movie (and he actually FIXED it for Abrams and Kennedy, but even though test audiences loved the "Lucas Cut", Kennedy demanded they not use it because it didn't allow Rey to be the all powerful Mary Sue that Kennedy wanted), and how Palpatine wasn't even supposed to be in this movie originally, but since Rian Johnson killed off Snoke to subvert our expectations in The Last Jedi, JJ Abrams had to cobble together someone even more powerful to be the biggest baddy despite the fact that it made no sense whatsoever in relation to the story as a whole. Honestly, I could write a book about all the rumors and leaks (which were all proven to be true in the end #DoomcockWasRight)... But I'll just leave all that alone and instead simply talk about this movie as a finished product.
The Movie (SPOILERS)
Let's start at the top. The title crawl starts with "THE DEAD SPEAK!" It then goes to tell us (and not show us) that Emperor Palpatine (last seen being tossed into the second Death Star's reactor core by Darth Vader) is still miraculously somehow alive, and claims that he's about to dole out some giant revenge on the galaxy for dissin' his Empire thirty years prior. We also learn that Kylo Ren is in the midst of RAGE hunting the man down because ONLY HE CAN RULE THIS GALAXY, bitch!
Then the movie starts in the middle of a dull fight where Kylo is looking for a MacGuffin device that can lead him to Palpatine's super-secret Sith planet... WHY IS THERE A MAGICAL DEVICE THAT CAN LEAD ANYONE TO THIS SUPER-SECRET PLANET? And why is this magical device just sitting in the middle of a forest on some random planet? Don't think about it, Morty.
So Kylo gets to Exogol (the super-secret Sith planet, or SSSP from now on) in like 1.5 minutes of movie time (by himself, for some reason that's never explained). He immediately finds Palpatine (who never even brings up the fact that he should be dead, even though he's missing some fingers and his eyes are all cataract-y) and Palpy's hundreds of thousands of Sith-worshipping followers (even though the prequel trilogy made it a point of saying that the Sith are always only just two: Master and Apprentice).
Big Papa Palpatine then tells Kylo "I made Snoke and started the First Order... But that was me thinking too small. So NOW I've somehow magically created a fleet of over 10,000 Star Destroyers, with EACH and EVERY ONE containing a cannon that can blow up a planet, just like the Death Star!... Oh, and I've buried them on this SSSP for no reason... But now I'm sending them out into SPACE!... But not for another 14 or so hours for no reason at all... Instead, they'll just hang around in this planet's atmosphere using up tons of space-gas... Man, I hope nobody attacks them before that no-reason time-limit is up. That would be catastrophic. OH! And I need you to go KILL that Rey girl. Can you do that for me, Kylo, dear?"
Then we meet Finn and Poe who are on board the Millennium Falcon. They run to some sort of planetoid spaceport and get some data from a First Order traitor (hmmmm, we only know of one First Order person other than Kylo... Who could it be?) that tells them that Palpy is indeed back, and he's about to unleash his doom in less than a day. Then they run away from some First Order ships by "light skipping" (light speed jumping again and again without any coordinates... Which takes them inside planetary atmospheres something like five times in a row, despite the fact that the universe is about 99.9999999999999999% open space. What are the odds? #NeverTellMeTheOdds). This damages the Falcon, but they make it back to the Resistance base. The damaged Falcon is then fixed and never talked about again.... WHY SAY IT'S DAMAGED IN THE FIRST PLACE if it never plays into the story again?! Whatever. On to Rey.
Rey is training with Leia on their forest-planet base (yet another forest planet; how original, JJ Abrams). Leia is obviously not in this movie. Meaning that anytime Leia is on screen talking, her lines are vague as hell. It's pretty clear that because they were using Carrie Fisher's deleted scenes from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi they didn't have much dialogue to work with, but they did the best that they could with what they had.
When Rey finds out that there is a magical device that can lead the Resistance to the Emperor's fleet on Exegol, she, Finn, Poe, Chewie, C-3PO, and BB8 all take off in the Falcon to yet another desert planet (that isn't Tatooine or Jakku, but sure looks like both) on a small hint that Rey found in one of Luke's old journals that she stole from him. On this world Rey talks to a native who asks, "What's your name?" Rey says, "It's Rey." The native then asks, "Rey what?" And Rey says, "I don't have a family name." Then the native says, "So you're 'solo'? You should be called REY SOLO!"
Then the group finds Lando on this not-Tatooine/not-Jakku desert planet for some reason. His sole purpose is to point them about two miles out into the desert away from the town that they're in, to find a ship that Lando and Luke once tracked that contains a cosplay-looking dagger that has Sith-text written on it. This dagger points them to the second super-secret wayfinder that will eventually point them to the SSSP. Ugh. This movie is about 90% fetch quests. It's horrendous.
Anyway, after a dumb, unneeded chase sequence, our heroes fall into comically-fast quicksand (I cannot make this up). Just before sinking below it, Finn says, "REY! There is something I have to tell you!" Then they go under. Then HE NEVER TELLS HER. Why is this line still in the goddamn movie?!
But lo and behold, in a cavern under the quicksand (that stunningly isn't filled up with quicksand itself), the heroes meet a giant sandworm that's injured. Rey uses the Force to heal it somehow and for some reason, and they find the pilot of the ship they were looking for (well, his bones) and the magic-texty dagger. 3PO can't read the dagger's text (due to stupid plot reasons), so instead they decide to take him to another planet where Poe knows a guy who can fuck with the droid's programming to get him to read the text. But before that... How did Luke not find the ship's pilot's corpse and that shitty dagger? They were both literally 50 feet away from his impossibly-not-scavenged spaceship. How did the Force at least not show Luke that there was a giant man-eating worm just underfoot that probably ate him? Luke and Lando gave up this mission pretty quickly.
Before they go to reprogram 3PO, Rey fights Kylo's Tie-fighter with just her laser-sword, Chewie gets captured by the Knights of Ren, and the Falcon gets confiscated by the First Order. Oh, and Rey kills Chewie by having a Force-brawl with Kylo over the transport ship that the Wookiee is on and accidentally "Force-lightnings" it into oblivion. Oopsie!
Ugh, this is going on for so long, and there's still a few more fetch quests before the big American dance party finale... Let me try to wrap this up quicker, like the writers of the movie should have done.
The heroes go to Kijimi and wipe 3PO's memory in order for him to be able to read the dagger. The text translation then leads them to the moon of Endor where the battle of the second Death Star took place, and where Vader redeemed himself by saving his son and ridding the galaxy of the Emperor forever... Or for 30-some-odd years. Whichever comes first. Poe meets an old flame who adds nothing to the plot (just like Rose from TLJ!), Rey Force-senses that Chewie is alive on Kylo's star destroyer that's now hovering over the ice planet (that's NOT Hoth) that they're on, and together the heroes go up and are stupidly allowed to land their stolen ship in Kylo's personal hangar.
The heroes find Chewie and break him out with ease, but then get captured. But then they're freed by the clownish General Hux who is helping them (and dooming the First Order) solely because he hates Kylo... What a shitty team player. Kylo then comes back to his Star Destroyer just as the heroes leave, but instead of using the hyper-drive-tracking device that they used like crazy in TLJ, the First Order just lets them go. I mean, why not? The plot must move on!
The heroes then jet off to the Endor moon and land in PRECISELY THE RIGHT LOCATION to use a secret Goonies-like compartment in the dagger to perfectly outline the exact area of the Death Star rubble that lies in the frothing ocean just front of them. This shows them with pinpoint accuracy where the Emperor's wayfinder was hidden. Once again, WHY did the Emperor even need a wayfinder to get to the SSSP, why did he keep it in the Death Star, and how did Ochie (the guy who originally owned the dagger before getting eaten by a sandworm) know it was there, and precisely where it was in the rubble after that exact part crashed on the moon of Endor? Doesn't matter, 'cause we're still moving forward at a rapid pace!
Rey takes a catamaran over to the crashed Death Star and immediately finds the wayfinder. When she touches the MacGuffin device she has a five-second vision of herself as evil, but it's gone before she can blink. Then Kylo shows up for some reason, and he found her in the 100 square-miles of Death Star wreckage faster than even Rey found the wayfinder. Then Kylo busts up that wayfinder and the two lightsaber-battle like two bratty kids with wrapping-paper cardboard-tubes on the outside of the Death Star in a violent storm (because visuals are cool and make up for plot!). Kylo tells her, "You're Palpy's grandbaby! Surprise!" And Rey does not take it well.
Finn and his new friend (who he just met seconds earlier) travel to the Death Star wreckage AND DO JACK SHIT. They just yell at Rey and she ignores them.
Back at Resistance HQ, Princess Leia says she's feeling unwell, and lays down and dies. Rey and Kylo feel her dying and Rey takes advantage of that and shish-ka-bobs her opponent. THEN SHE IMMIDIATELY HEALS HIM and steals his ship and runs off to the Craggy Island planet where she found Luke in the earlier movies. Poe, Finn, the new friend, and the rest of the gang then go back to Resistance HQ.
Rey meets ghost-Luke, who captures her lightsaber as she throws it into the fiery wreckage of Kylo's ship, and then he chastises her for trying to run away from her duties (saying he was completely wrong for trying to do so himself), in an attempt to redeem his character assassination that Rian Johnson gave him in TLJ. Then he raises his old X-Wing fighter from the water tomb that we saw it in TLJ, and tells Rey to go kick Palpatine's ass. Rey then departs in the spaceship that was corroding away underwater for over ten years, after hooking up Kylo's wayfinder to the ship's computer.
This brings up another thing that I don't think Abrams really thought through: So now Force-ghosts can straight up use Force levitation and interact with physical objects?... So why not just have Luke, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Anakin, and EVERY OTHER FORCE-GHOST EVER attack Palpatine with physical lightsabers and Force attacks? Whatever.
Finn, Poe, and company arrive at the Resistance HQ (which looks just like Yavin IV from A New Hope, by the way), find out that Leia died, and then C-3PO immediately gets his backup memory installed by R2-D2 (thusly removing any sacrifice that he made in translating the dagger). Chewie breaks down in agony over the news of Leia (the ONLY HEARTFELT SCENE IN THIS ENTIRE MOVIE), but just then, the crew gets a message from Rey who's using Kylo's wayfinder to travel to SSSP, and she's leaving them a trail to follow.
The whole Resistance is like "Okay, let's do this... even though we only have like 10 ships now." But then Lando steps in and says, "Leave that to me." And everyone else says, "..........Okay! Autobots, roll out!"
This is when I actually began to enjoy this movie. Just because at this point it becomes one of the stupidest things I've ever seen in my entire life, and I once saw somebody throw their car into reverse on a busy, 6-lane highway where traffic was going 65MPH, because they apparently missed their exit and didn't want to go up a mile and loop back.
Kylo is still on the Death Star feeling all broody-like. But then Han Solo appears from out of nowhere (I guess it's all just in Kylo's head, but we're never told, so who knows) and calls him "son," and tells him that he's strong and knows what he must do. So then BEN SOLO (Kylo no more) throws his fucking lightsaber away with Han saying, "Um, no, tossing your only weapon wasn't what I meant!" before disappearing.
So Rey arrives at SSSP and lands just outside of the Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center-looking arena that Palpatine is in. She goes inside and meets Big Papa Palpatine, who looks even more ghoulish and awful than when Kylo met him just half a day before. Palpy tells her, "You are my granddaughter, and I never wanted Kylo to kill you, really. I just wanted him to bring you here, even though I actually DID tell him to kill you. What I need from you is for you to strike me down in hatred, then you'll become a Sith, and you can then rule the galaxy. Seems fair, no?"
Rey tells him where he can shove it, and then they bicker for a while before Ben Solo shows up at the Tokyo Big Site and is surrounded by the Knights of Ren! Oh no!!! But then he kills them in like two seconds, so forget them. Then Rey and Ben confront the Emperor, and then Palpy's all like, "You know what, fuck you kids, I'll stick around myself. I'll just Force-heal myself with your lifeforces!" Then he sucks them off (that sounds bad) and becomes the old Palpy that we all know and love.
The Resistance arrives at SSSP and sees what appears to be hundreds of thousands of Death Star Destroyers hovering around. The heroes know that these ships can't leave this area of space because it's all weird and their instruments don't know up-from-down without a certain tower on the planet's surface. I guess all the Final Order people running these things DON'T HAVE EYES to see which side the planet is on and which side outer space is on... And how come the Resistance ships have no problem knowing up from down? Because they use their EYES?
I was literally laughing and slapping my knees at this point in the movie. The Chief could do nothing to stop me.
The Resistance fleet easily takes down a few Death Star Destroyers, but they learned that the Final Order has transferred the program telling them up-from-down to their main ship instead of from the tower on the planet's surface, so Finn and his new friend land on the ship AND RIDE SPACE-HORSES out onto its hull in some Attack of the Light Brigade retarded move. This space-horse attack works, which is even more stupid.
But wait... If they can transmit the signal from the planet-side antenna to the lead ship, why not just transfer it to EVERY ship in the fleet?... Moving on.
That's when Palpy opens up the arena's skylight and sees that the Resistance is being annoying... AND HE THEN SUPER FORCE-LIGHTNING ATTACKS THEM ALL. He totally misses all his ships, but takes out all the Resistance ships!.... But then Rey distracts him, Ben gets yeeted into a crevasse, and all the Resistance ships go back online as if they were just tickled a little by a space-feather. Whew!
I think this is when elderly Lando reappears with EVERY SHIP IN THE FUCKING GALAXY in an attempt to mimic the final battle in Avengers: Endgame. Sadly, the awe of that scene in A:E is not felt here. Instead, only rolling laughter. This scene is another slap in the chins of Rian Johnson, since at the end of his movie the dwindling Resistance puts out a beacon for help and NOONE replies or comes to their assistance. Here, Abrams tells us, "Nope! Everyone else in the universe DOES side with the Resistance! Rian was WRONG and a doody-head!" I think I will actually make some T-shirts that say that: "Rian was WRONG and a doody-head!"
Then Rey gets attacked by Palpy's lightning attack, but she blocks it with her lightsaber, no problem. THEN she pulls out Leia's old lightsaber (that specter-Luke gave her before she left his planet), and THAT allows Palpy's lightning to rebound back on him (why he didn't stop shooting lighting at this point I cannot say), like Voldemort's final spell in Harry Potter! Palpy fucking disintegrates, but Rey falls to the ground too, even though she wasn't really injured in any way during this fight, and then she dies..... Yeah.
BUT THEN Ben Solo RISES UP from the crevasse, stumbles over to Rey's corpse as the Sith Arena starts to crumble, and then he Force-heals her back from the dead. THEN THEY KISS. Then Ben dies and both he and Leia's corpse Force-vanish. Then Rey escapes the planet after Finn blows up the lead ship, which of course means that EVERY OTHER SHIP IN THE FLEET falls to the planet and blows up. I mean, seriously, how do these Final Order ships not just "aim for space" to save themselves?
Then the galaxy celebrates because RIAN WAS WRONG AND A DOODY-HEAD, and EVERYONE hated the First/Final Order. Then Maz gives Chewie a medal because FUCK YOU.
Then, on Tatooine, at Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's moisture farm, Rey appears. She pulls out Luke and Leia's old lightsabers and buries them. Then she ignites her own lightsaber (which is golden, of course, 'cause she's the golden child).
Rey is then interrupted by some old local woman who asks who she is.
"Rey, WHO?" the old bitch demands.
Rey then looks off into the distance for literally 2 fucking minutes and stares at the ghosts of Luke and Leia.
The old bitch is like, "I asked you a question, missy!"
Rey then turns back and says "Rey. Rey Skywalker."
Aaaaaaaand SCENE! Cue the most vigorous laughing fit I can remember ever having.
Behind the Movie
It took me a few days to process this giant bantha turd of a movie and everything that I knew about it. I was aware of all the behind-the-scenes drama that made up the shit-show known as the "Making of The Rise of Skywalker," and how Abrams, George Lucas, and even Bob Iger of Disney HATED what Rian Johnson did with The Last Jedi (i.e. making up his own shit without regard as to what was set up in the previous movie, killing off everyone of storyline value, thusly leaving the final chapter in a lurch with NOWHERE TO GO), but Abrams, Kennedy, and Iger made so many terrible decisions with this last Star Wars movie that it is mind boggling.
A good writer and production team COULD HAVE made something impressive with what they were left with after The Last Jedi. Instead, these colossal space clowns went with retconning not only TLJ, but also The Return of the Jedi. They shit all over everything Luke and Anakin fought for and sacrificed themselves for in the Battle of Endor. They retroactively said, "You know how Vader saw his son being killed by his Emperor, and that snapped him into action in order to save his boy, redeem himself, and end tyranny in the Galaxy, but at the cost of his life? Fuck it. We need the Emperor to be somehow alive in this movie since we no longer have a 'big bad' for Kylo to rebel against. And no, we'll never explain how he survived Jedi. It'll make him even more mischievous and mysterious. They'll LOVE US for this! We so smart!"
Speaking of lousy writing, there were so many instances where they went for a BIG MOMENT — a huge, Star Wars-defining juncture, where things will change forever — but then they just IMMEDIATELY take them back, completely neutering any impact they might have. For example, they BLOW UP the transport ship that Chewie is on... But he's not really dead, we find out a minute later; he was just on another ship. But then, OH NO! C-3PO needs to have his memory wiped in order to read words!!... But then R2-D2 just reinstalls his memory from like 10 hours before, three scenes after that memory wipe. And then HOLY SHIT! Rey sticks Kylo Ren with a lightsaber right in his gut!... But then she Force-heals him in the next heartbeat. Oh, and then there's General Hux, who turns out to be a spy who feeds information to the Resistance because he doesn't want Kylo Ren to win or something... But then he gets killed immediately by a General Pryde who just showed up two minutes before. Like I said: bad storytelling.
Oh, and I need to dive a little deeper into Palpy's plan. So despite the fact that Palpatine only ever cared about getting and holding onto power for himself (it was the CORE trait of his personality in the first six movies), in this story we find out that not only did he have a son at some point, but this son didn't want to become the next Emperor Palpatine, so he bundled up his wife and young daughter and fled from the Sith home-world. And then Palpatine sent an assassin after them to kill the son and his wife and then bring Palpy's granddaughter back to the decrepit ancient evil one... So that she could take on the mantle of "Empress Palpatine." No, I did not make that up just now. That's in the movie.
First of all, who the fuck had sex with Palpatine? Second of all, Palpy doesn't care one lick about family and lineages, so why would he create his own? And thirdly, did Abrams NOT SEE the first six Star Wars movies?
Then, before his fleet of thousands upon thousands of Death Star Destroyers is ready to launch and take back the Galaxy, Palpy SENDS OUT A TRANSMISSION TO THE COSMOS declaring his desire for revenge against everyone. And when Kylo Ren arrives miraculously at the SSSP, Palpy tells him to find and KILL Rey.
Then eventually Rey shows up and Palpy tells her, "Nah, girl, I never wanted you dead. I wanted you to KILL ME and absorb my evil presence and then take over the Galaxy in my stead. Then, the SECOND she denies him this, and expresses an ill will against him, he sucks the life out of her and Kylo and completely resurrects himself anyway.
After All This, I Still Had Some Questions
I think that the first six movies in this Star Wars Skywalker story are pretty self-contained, and they don't have any loose threads hanging about them... But this sequel trilogy is not in the same boat. Even though Abrams and Kennedy had all the time that they needed to set this whole three-movie-arc up flawlessly and answer every question that they could ask, they left so much up in the air.
For example, we never did find out how Maz got Luke's old lightsaber in The Force Awakens. How did the Emperor survive Jedi? Why was he in hiding for over thirty years instead of giving a legitimate face to the First Order? Why did Palpy allow Snoke to waste so many resources on Star Killer Base in TFA when Palpy had millions of mobile Death Star Destroyers almost ready to roll out? What did Finn want to tell Rey when they were sinking in the quicksand? Why was Rose such a dumbass? And why did Rey think that saving Kylo was a worth-while mission when all she ever knew him from was attacking her, kidnapping her, torturing her, killing her father figure (his own actual father) in front of her, killing all her friends in front of her, and then constantly tracking and attacking her something like four or five times in this movie alone? Why did she kiss him after all that shit? FUCK Abrams and Kennedy.
Oh, and at the end of the movie, did Lando say he's from the "Colt System"? If so, that's smoooooth.
I am so sorry, my fans and admirers. I didn't really want to appear in this movie, but Di$ney just kept slapping me with cash until I relented. Honestly, I can build a fleet of a 100,000 real Star Destroyers with the money they paid me. Just pretend that these final three movies never really happened and we can all be happy. Deal? Thanks, babe.
Oooooh shit, dawg. Nope, not even I can give this doggy donut a good review. It made me feel all rumbly in my tumbly, G. I had to keep poppin' Tums an' shit all through the showing. It done hit me hard, man. And now that it's all over, it left me feelin' shitty, and actually made the original trilogy shittier with how it shit its shitty shit all over it and shit.