It’s not just Kevin McCallister’s parents forgetting the kids this Christmas – in ending the 42-years-long Star Wars ‘Skywalker’ saga, director JJ Abrams and Disney have left the children in the audience behind, too.
With The Rise of Skywalker – Star Wars 9 – Disney goes straight for the hearts of the wealthiest section of its audience, the middle-aged devotees who go weak at the knees at the sight of a significant spaceship from their childhood.
But remember – every time a 40-year-old man fistpumps, a child shrugs its shoulders.
That’s the tragedy of the end of the Skywalker saga – it’s traded on nostalgia and backburnered any kind of true adventure to the new story.
The plot is so much a second-thought that when, finally, two hours into the film something significant happens, it’s too little too late.
It’s not that the movie’s inert getting there, in fact it’s positively frantic from the off. It’s just the events are so insignificant among all the clutter.
And what clutter. In true Lucasesque form, the screen is packed with anything that can be CGId in and there’s zero room to breath in the dialogue. Mysterious trainee Jedi, Rey (Daisy Ridley – a ‘what if Kiera Knightly was in Grange Hill’ presence), Poe (floppy-haired starfighter played by the excellent Oscar Isaac) and completely sidelined ex-stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega, trying his best to get anything out of the character) are travelling together, along with Chewbacca the wookie and chatterdroid C3PO.
Applying ‘to each action there is an equal and opposite reaction’, to the script, writers Abrams and Chris Terrio give every character a witty comment to deliver during and after an event, usually while bickering. Corporate overlords Disney have made tireless ban*er de rigueur for their Marvel movies and remain ‘on brand’ here.
Anyway, the goodies are off looking for something for ages, and despite their best attempts to keep the wisecracks flowing, it’s never a fun ride.
Meanwhile, conflicted baddie Kylo Ren (the also excellent Adam Driver, still in Napoleon Dynamite’s Chemical Romance mode after killing his dad, Han Solo) is looking for a thing, too, following the return of the biggest baddie of them all, Senator Palpatine, as hinted at in the divisive Episode 8 from 2017.
It’s a shame to see Star Wars go like this, but after the likes of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which squeezed all fun out of Han Solo – the fun one – it’s really all we could expect.
Secrets are revealed and all but shrugged off late on in The Rise of Skywalker but with little love given to the new characters by the filmmakers and all the attention aggressively trained on nostalgia, the series bows out on a hollow whimper.
So, bye Star Wars. Apart from that new TV series.
By Tom Cassidy, who logs films on Letterboxd.