By Jordan Zhu
The views expressed in this article are those of the author’s and are not representative of the views of U-Insight.
The Star Wars “Main Title” theme echoed in the theatre as the classic opening crawl of the series visualised, and led the audience down the fond memory of the epic film series that etched its legacy in modern day cinema and the entire space opera sci-fi genre. However, this only marks the beginning of a tedious two and a half hours which set to undermine every success this series had made previously.
Filmmaker J.J. Abrams proved worthy when taking over the last trilogy by doing a spectacular job in the production The Force Awakens. But this film which he contributed to both directing and screenplay, was a miserable failure. It fell short even compared to the other heavily commercialised Hollywood blockbusters he directed, such as the Mission: Impossible series.
The plot is overly simple, but may be confusing for non-Star Wars fans, with little background provided. At the same time, it’s generic, predictable and dissatisfactory for fans. The only bright side might be the canonicity and the candid appearance of various characters that serves to bring the audience down memory lane and possibly pleasing die-hard cultist fans.
However, the illogical gaps in the script is almost insulting to the intellectual capacity of the audience. Examples include: a fully destroyed space ship but with one important item left intact, an imbalanced powerful villain with an even more stupidly powerful hero to defeat him, not to mention merely minutes ago, said hero was getting trashed. Paired with awkwardly written and designed drama and romance, this film is as cheesy as a Michael Bay production.
As for character development, there’s barely any. The main cast were given roles that seemed no better developed than minor characters that have a few minutes of screen time. It is as if the production team thought that the characters were already over-developed in the past eight films; deciding to shift their focus instead on expensive visual effects and action-filled battles scenes.
Carrie Fisher’s last role as Princess Leia on screen was produced and released after her passing. Ethics aside, the fact that we have a tributary role for a deceased actress is respectable but extremely awkward. Be it the CGI on Fisher’s unreleased footage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi or the voiceover for her role in The Rise Of Skywalker, it fails to bring out the best of one of the most beloved characters in this franchise.
Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley, starring as Kylo Ren and Rey respectively, were decent in their individual performances. However, the pair really lacks in chemistry when it comes to dramatic scenes that require a good level of synergy; and the awkward screenplay is not helping either. Kylo Ren is as good as a Darth Vader wannabe that lives in his family’s shadow when he was the antagonist. Driver managed this part well, but could not work around an ill-developed character, whose transition in the later part of film was abrupt and cringe-worthy.
Essentially, the film spent one and half hours, together with the two previous movies, describing the rivalry and struggles between Kylo Ren and Rey, destroying this well-built intertwined relation within mere seconds.
What’s more disappointing was the parts for John Boyega as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. Both important allies of Rey, the protagonist, the trio is essentially the Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia of the original trilogy. For Finn and Poe, their parts in this movie are as good as a calefare that can simply be known as Resistance Member 1 and 2. Poe’s past and struggles were briefly mentioned and used for pun and comedic effect, whilst Finn’s love for Rey was literally brought up for one second and buried in sand the next.
As for the side of the villains, Palpatine, played by Ian McDiarmid, was brought back as the final boss to make the Sith great again. His entire screen time was well less than 15 minutes and McDiarmid wasn’t even given much chance to relive our memory of him in the original and prequel trilogy. The other generals in the First Order are barely noteworthy.
In all fairness, this movie is still entertaining and visually stunning. However, for non-Star Wars fans, it is just another Hollywood blockbuster with million-dollar CGI and no actual plot, as good as the Transformers series. As for Star Wars fans, it is sad enough to bid our beloved series goodbye, but it’s even more disastrous to see it end on such an unsatisfying note. It’s as if Abrams, Lucasfilm and Disney were attempting to milk what’s left of the franchise and exploit fan sentiments for profit maximisation.
Watch it or not?
Post finals: Nah, it’s gonna make you sadder
My partner is a Star Wars fan: You don’t really have a choice, do you?
Friend jio you go drinking: For nerds, drinks and Star Wars (but only the first two trilogies)