The Rise of Skywalker is an Omnishambles, Part One

In case you’re wondering, “omnishambles” is a polite way of saying “clusterfuck”. Which is what this movie is from a storytelling point of view. To really tear into The Rise of Skywalker, I can’t do a spoiler-free post. Also, there are so many issues with this movie that I can’t possibly cover them in a single post. Therefore, this is the first part of a two part series.

So…

Overly Convoluted Plot and Unnecessarily Vague Background

The movie opens with Kylo Ren on a quest for a Sith wayfinder, which will lead him to Exegol, where Palpatine is hiding like a diseased cockroach. Palpatine, in a stereotypical cackle, explains that, “It had been me all along, MWAHAHAHAHA!”

He had been the voice in Kylo’s head…for some reason. Palpatine had created Snoke and controlled him…somehow. Maybe? We’re not sure. We see a tube of Snoke torsos and that’s all the explanation we get.

Kylo, understandably, is all, “Imma gut you.” But Palpatine says, “Wait! There’s more!”

Palpatine tells Kylo that he can have this huge fleet of ships Palpatine magically has, which end up being fully staffed though it would take months if not years to gather and train said staff. However, to get this and all the power in the galaxy, Kylo must do one little thing: kill Rey.

Kylo glues his mask back together, because we need that merch money, and goes on a quest to find Rey, who goes on a quest to find the second wayfinder to get to Palpatine.

Pacing was Insane

The first forty or so minutes of the movie move at an insane pace. While it lets up after that, it’s still a fast moving film. A lot of information, or references to information found elsewhere, are thrown at the audience without giving time to digest anything. In fact, the characters themselves don’t pause to really consider anything happening. They just go from one action to the next.

Also, Abrams cuts short moments to linger over, like Rey mourning Ben Solo. We cut from her watching him fade away straight to the celebration scene. In fact, she seems downright happy in the movie’s final scene, making it appear that Ben goes unmourned.

Poor Handling of Plot Questions and Information

The Visual Dictionary explains the planet with the wayfinder is Mustafar and that Ren is fighting devotees of Vader and not innocent villagers. That last bit is important to know if this is an arc that ends in redemption, because it makes Ren more sympathetic. But if you’re a casual fan, you’re just going to sit there and think, “There goes Ren, once again a-murdering nice people minding their own business.”

Also, the fact that Ren never actually heard Vader, but only Palpatine, should be earth-shattering. It should lead Ren to question everything he thought to be true. It should have led to a real conversation with the ghost of his real grandfather. However, the movie never addresses it again.

Another place where this happens involves Finn. Two or three times, he tells Rey that he has something important to tell her. Poe even asks him about it. The story frames it like a confession of love. However, JJ Abrams recently revealed Finn wanted to tell Rey about his Force sensitivity.

First of all, if a creator has to step in and answer a story question, the creator has failed at his job. Secondly, you don’t pose a question in a final story and then go on to never answer the question. In this case, it was a literal question that should have led to a conversation but…doesn’t. And because it was repeated, it should have had a bigger impact on the plot than it ultimately did.

Rewritten or Ignored Canon

In the movie, we learn Poe Dameron used to be a spice runner (a.k.a. a drug dealer) before joining the Resistance. Poe’s comic series, however, established that Leia recruited him directly from the New Republic Navy. I kept waiting for Dameron to explain he was undercover for Leia but he never did. The retcon was just a messy way to get an old flame into the movie so that Dameron had some witty/cute lines.

This bit of backstory also doesn’t make sense if you know that Poe Dameron is the son of Kes Dameron and Shara Bay, Rebel heroes. Why would the son of Rebel heroes turn to a life of crime? It’s never explained, like so much in The Rise of Skywalker.

In The Last Jedi, Rey has come to a deeper understanding of Kylo Ren and how he came to be. In the novelization, she realizes that not only is Kylo’s choice not simple but his life is not hers to take. She will wait for him to make the right choice.

However, in The Rise of Skywalker, every time she meets Kylo, Rey fights him. She’s angry. She’s the shouting ball of unresolved issues that she was at the beginning of The Last Jedi. It culminates in her killing him while under the influence of the Dark side, only to heal him.

The Rise of Skywalker is the Sequel to The Force Awakens, not The Last Jedi

In many ways, it’s as if The Last Jedi never happened. A year supposedly separates the movies but the relationship between Rey and Kylo appears to have regressed rather than move forward or, at the least, stalemated. There is little indication they even had any Force bond moments, though we know from the end of TLJ that the bond was still very much in existence.

The story sidelines Rose, which feels awkward in light of her importance in TLJ. She’s just there in the background, making comments or asking questions to move the plot forward. I actually can’t remember any of her lines. Furthermore, Abrams never addresses the budding romance between her and Finn.

In the book Resistance Reborn, they decided to only be friends. But just because it appeared in a book doesn’t mean everyone knows this.

As far as tone and feel goes, the movie feels more like an heir to the first movie of the trilogy rather than a continuation of the second. Many plot elements, like Palpatine’s return, feel out of left field because there was no set up in the second film. Or, the first film, for that matter.

Looking Ahead…

In my next post, we’ll dig into Palpatine, Rey’s relationship to him, and Kylo Ren’s overall arc. This, in fact, is where my biggest problems with The Rise of Skywalker lie. Until next time:

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