“Will this agony ever end,” C-3PO says at one point. Anyone who believes Disney’s marketing ploy that, “this is the final “Star Wars” film,” hasn’t been paying attention.
Nothing and no one is ever final in this franchise, which is the largest turn-off for non-fans. As you watch the 11th film in the franchise, it becomes more obvious than ever Oscar Isaac is the new Hans Solo, Daisy Ridley is a less obvious Luke Skywalker, and John Boyega is the new Lando Calrissian.
Instead of taking the time to create inventive new characters, Disney has “Star Wars” on such a fast-tracked assembly line that plots and characters are new generational carbon copies. Director J.J. Abrams (“The Force Awakens”) closes out this particular strand of “Star Wars” with all the usual ingredients.
It’s not aimed at pleasing diehard fans — they are more likely be infuriated — and it’s not gunning to bring anyone into the fold. Disney’s “Star Wars” has general audiences in their sites, offering more of an amusement part ride than cinematic masterpiece.
As a Dark Force from the past returns, the dwindling resistance has struggled to secure peace against the First Order. Freshly anointed Superior Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has uncovered the missing piece to the last Jedi, Rey’s past.
The resistance looks to Rey (Ridley) and General Organa (Carrie Fisher) for direction as The Final Order grows stronger, building a massive military using youth conscripted from across the galaxy.
A newly discovered artifact will point Rey’s team to the Heart of the Dark Side of the Force if they can decipher its message. Chewy, Finn (Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Rose (Marie Tran) risk their lives on various planets and ordeals to ensure the pursuit of freedom.
Rey and Poe comparing light sources is an example of a fan service moment that gives general fans giggles and everyone else eye rolls. If like me, you watch “The Rise of Skywalker” as just the next film in the queue (before “Cats” and after “A Hidden Life”), there is little cinematic originality to champion (or write about).
Sure, John Williams’ score is fitting for the action scenes and the somber moments, but it’s the same sound we’ve heard for 11 movies. Cinematographer Dan Mindel (“Star Trek Into Darkness”) carves out little originality for himself and doesn’t quite match the striking visuals Steve Yedlin’s more independent film eye landed in “The Last Jedi.”
Driver (“Marriage Story”) continues to be the newest trilogy’s greatest asset. His performance as the tormented villain provides him more to work with as an actor than many of the other characters who are just spouting off terrible dialogue straight into the camera.
It’s hard to invest emotionally into the “Star Wars” space opera when in the first hour one character dies only to return in the second hour. This franchise and others in the Disney umbrella have conditioned us to question each and every death because finality doesn’t work well when you are selling video games and merchandise.
As the “final film” rolls along through its bloated two and a half hours, there are so many fight sequences and sky battles that mirror previous sequences, it’s hard to differentiate between these and others from previous films.
Which might explain why high-profile actors like Laura Dern will appear briefly in one flick, or Keri Russell and Dominic Monaghan in another, helping one-pass viewers to keep them straight.
“The Rise of Skywalker” begins and ends like all the rest, so spectacle fans should be satisfied by the comforting familiarity. The die-hard fans who know, understand and can point out all the rules Abrams is breaking or ignoring in this installment are likely to riot.
All of this simply means if you are seeking original movie content like “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” or “The Farewell,” you will have to choose a different galaxy.
Final Thought: “Skywalker” is an expensive family entertainment, but as far from original content as you can get.