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‘The Rise of Skywalker’: Rich reviews the Star Wars trilogy finale

Posted at 6:45 PM, Dec 20, 2019

What did FOX 13 movie critic Rich Bonaduce think of the newest “Star Wars” film? Read and watch his review below:

It's finally here: "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." But allow me to BYOB (Bear Your Own Bias) before I get started.

I'm old enough to have seen the original 1977 "Star Wars" in theaters, and I — like all my little friends — was blown away.

But there was no "Episode IV - A New Hope" on the opening slate because they didn't know there would be a sequel, much less prequels. And no one cared; it was a great, stand-alone flick. My buddies and I grabbed our brooms and fenced to our hearts' content.

But then it made money.

So when I saw "The Empire Strikes Back" in 1980, that lack of a plan was plain especially with the reveal that Vader was Luke's father. Even as a kid I was echoing Luke: "That's impossible!" Or at least really stupid. It didn't help that "Return of the Jedi" in 1983 revealed Leia was Luke's sister; an idea added literally at the last-minute onset to give Luke a motivation for a big lightsaber duel they'd already planned.

And that was all she wrote at the time; a poorly planned but fun sci-fi trilogy full of action, memorable heroes, and questionable plot points. Three and done. Oh well; at least we had lightsaber duels galore, right?

But then some sixteen years later came the attack of the prequels. I was as let down by them as I was initially excited to see them. Why bother honing my saber skills anymore, when — unless I'm a descendant of some entitled royal Force bloodline filled to the brim with Midichlorians — I'll never be a Jedi of any renown? If the teddy bears infesting the "Return of the Jedi" soured me a bit on Star Wars, the prequels were too bitter a pill to swallow. I was pretty much done with Star Wars after those abysmal prequels.

But 10 years after Star Wars had died to thunderous applause came a reawakening. I was excited for a new trilogy to possibly undo the damage the prequels had done, but then came the news the first would be directed by JJ Abrams, a man who basically made stuff up as he went along in the TV series "Lost." He went on to rip off and ruin more properties than I care to count (but I will! He directed one of the worst "Mission Impossible" movies, rehashed "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" with his "Star Trek Into Darkness," and reimagined "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" as something nasty in "Super 8") before finally regurgitating the original 1977 "Star Wars" in "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens." He also doubled down on the franchise's most irksome aspects: the Storm Troopers are still the worst shots in the galaxy wearing the most useless armor imaginable; the Force still conveniently comes and goes, doing only what the script needs to be done at the time; massive technological miracles were created “a long time ago” without explanation for how it’s even possible or paid for, and all with an obvious Off-Switch in plain view; dialog is sparse and painful, delivered with all the feeling of Natalie Portman pretending she can't act for an entire movie…. I could go on.

When talented writer/director Rian Johnson took over in 2017 with "Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi" I was ready for a change... and I certainly got it! But as enjoyable as it was to get away from Abrams and switch things up a bit, it was enough of a departure to only confuse the issue more. That's somewhat understandable since it had years of dangling plot threads to address and a rabid fan base to please. And maybe that's why the reigns were handed back to Abrams, fresh from his divisive involvement with Star Trek (at least that gave Johnson time to give us the delightful "Knives Out"). But it also gave Abrams the currency to do whatever he wanted. So together with a script he co-wrote with Chris Terrio (who previously gave us the perfectly serviceable "Argo" and the somewhat unsatisfying "Justice League" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice") Abrams directed Episode IX, the final installment of the Skywalker Saga, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

Abrams should just stop making movies, or at least stop writing them. His final installment is much like his earlier installment and other films: fast and flashy, overstuffed, overly action-oriented, dumbed-down, and ultimately frustrating. Anything that is worth doing is worth overdoing; if you thought you can do cool stuff with the Force, wait until you see what ridiculousness you can do with it now! If you thought a Dreadnaught was cool, wait until you see what a million kazillion Star Destroyers can do! Since no one came to help the Resistance the last time around, wait until you see the predictable avalanche of ungodly support for them now, and in no time flat! For Abrams, bigger is always better no matter how absurd.

And sure, it's fun to see everyone back on the big screen again... but couldn't they be doing something other than what they've always done? Every Star Wars movie is essentially the same plot; basically, whatever spills out of the creative blender when you mix the force, a death star, a few light saber duels, and some mealy-mouthed Philosophy 101 about the nature of good and evil... aaaaand Puree. Abrams then adds a sprinkle of Marvel movie magic on top, ripping off to the beat one of the most famous exchanges in Marvel history. Similarly Marvel-esque callbacks and fan service are still enjoyable but certainly shoehorned in a desperate attempt to save what is a big, loud mess; an uneven ending to an uneven franchise. Is it too much to ask for good storytelling? For a film in which character motivations don't turn on a dime for no reason? Maybe a fresh take that brings something new to the table instead of simply being a pandering nostalgia machine? How about decent dialog, some kind of depth, something that doesn't browbeat you into submission with one action sequence slammed into another, or a script that doesn't seem like it was written by an eight-year-old for other eight-year-olds?

Apparently, yes; that's too much to ask for. Enjoy your Big Chew.

Too bad.