So this is how it ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Such is the case of Lucasfilm and Disney’s finale to the Star Wars universe’s Skywalker saga, The Rise of Skywalker. Originally released in theaters Dec. 20 and to DVD/BD on March 31, this finale to the Skywalker saga is one of those presentations that is no better in its home release than its theatrical premiere. It is not a total loss, though. As has already been noted by various critics and audiences, the movie’s writing makes it near unwatchable, so it won’t be rehashed here. What does deserve to be noted is the bonus content featured with the movie’s home release. It does its own share of damage to the presentation as the movie’s script, and will be addressed a little later. For all of the damage that the bonus content does, it doesn’t render the presentation completely unwatchable. The movie’s visual effects make it worth at least one watch. They will be discussed shortly. For all of the problems that the movie poses with its bonus content and writing, one other positive that can be noted is the story’s pacing. Together with the visual effects, the two elements collectively make Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker a movie that despite being hardly the best entry in the franchise, still worth at least an occasional watch.
Disney and Lucasfilm’s final entry in the decades-spanning Star Wars Skywalker franchise is a difficult end to the saga. It is not a complete loss, though. Despite the problems posed by its plot hole-filled script, it does have at least a couple of positives, one of which is its visual effects. The visual effects (special effects) incorporated into the Rise of Skywalker are to be applauded. Given, a lot of CG content was used, just as much real sets were tied into that digital content. One key instance in which the two elements were so well-balanced was in the final battle scene on Exegol. A large physical set was actually constructed for that scene, and dozens of extras were used along with the main cast for that moment. The precision in the look of that set, when placed along with its digital counterpart actually is surprisingly seamless. The same applies with a situation, such as the Death Star battle scenes. Again, there was a significant amount of digital presentation in this expansive scene, but it was also well balanced in its own right with the physical Death Star set that was created specifically for that crucial moment in the story. Audiences will be just as pleasantly surprised by other physical sets created for the movie, such as Palpatine’s throne room, the miniatures of the sand people’s vehicle, D-O’s ship and the sand planet scene involving the massive “dance” number, complete with all of its various costumes. The only downside to that scene is the speeder chase scene. It looks like something right out of one of the Mad Max movies, just with a more “upped” sci-fi flare. Of course all the CG content is not to be ignored. Between the laser blasts, the massive fleet of star destroyers and the other minor details, they add their own touch to the movie’s presentation, too. All things considered, audiences will be impressed by the dedication by those behind the lens to minimize the use of digital effects and make the movie look as real as possible throughout its nearly two-and-a-half-hour run time. That balance of real and digital elements is surprisingly positive and does its share to make the presentation worth experiencing at least once. Of course for all of the good that the visual effects do to make the movie worth watching, its bonus content counters that positive impact.
The bonus content featured with the home release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker detracts from the movie’s presentation because it is so targeted in its own presentation. Given, the main feature, “The Skywalker Legacy” does give audiences a background in how the visual effects were created for this final chapter in the Shywalker saga. The problem is that that’s all it does. The feature’s title is “The Skywalker Legacy” but does next to nothing to actually discuss the legacy of Luke Skywalker and his sister Princess/General Leia Organa. That name in itself brings about its own problems. If she’s Luke’s sister (and Han Solo’s wife), why is her last name Organa? That’s yet another writing matter that this critic will leave for others to discuss. The fact that the feature, which runs well over an hour in time, is titled “The Skywalker Legacy” but focuses solely on the special/visual effects instead of the very story that led to this point is self-defeating. Making matters worse is the fact that the featurette tries to justify itself (and the movie) by linking its own special effects to the special effects used in the original Star Wars trilogy. It is a blithe approach for this presentation all the way around. By comparison, MVD Entertainment Group’s surprisingly entertaining documentary Elstree 1976 does far more to honor the legacy of the original Star Wars trilogy, including its special effects. Had “The Skywalker Legacy” had a different title that was more in line with its content, the outcome might have been different, but that wasn’t the case. Making matters worse is that all of the movie’s other bonus features focus solely on its special effects, too. Ironically, there is one mention by stars Jon Boyega and Naomi Ackie that they were the first African-American stars to lead a cavalry in such an epic final scene near the movie’s end. That actually could have been used as a starting point for a much deeper discussion on diversity in the cinematic realm, but Disney and Lucasfilm officials completely missed the mark on this matter. It’s just one more way in which the movie’s bonus content proves itself a detriment to the home release of The Rise of Skywalker. Sure, the bonus content will appeal to those who have a love of and interest in movie production, but those viewers make up the only audience that will deeply appreciate its presentation. To that end, the bonus content does little to help the movie, proving once more that while sometimes bonus features can make a bad movie better, other times, said content does little to nothing for a movie. Luckily, for all of the impact that the movie’s bonus content has (and doesn’t have) on the movie’s overall presentation, it still does offer at least a tiny bit of appeal, if any.
While the impact of the bonus content featured in the home release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is minimal at best, one other item, the movie’s pacing can be said to be a definite positive. Considering that the movie’s run time is just shy of two-and-a-half-hours (which seems to be the norm nowadays with major blockbusters), it actually moves at a surprisingly quick pace. From the opening scenes to Ray continuing her training to the buildup to the final battle to that big moment, the movie’s scrip wastes little time on unnecessary items. That’s not to say that the script doesn’t find some slow moments. That desert planet scene does drag on a bit more than maybe it should have. Also, the wait for re-enforcements in that final battle takes its time. There is also the moment in which the Ray and company have to travel to one of the star destroyers to save Chewbacca, which is of note. This sequence slows things down a bit in its own right, as doe the scene in which the rebels have to find a certain character who can help dive into C3PO’s data memory to get the location of one of the devices that will lead to another key moment. This whole segment not only slows things down, but it also brings about the discussion on another of the plot holes, the very fact that C3PO’s memory could be wiped, but then later conveniently recovered by his longtime bot buddy R2-D2. Luckily for viewers, such moments are rare and don’t do too much damage to the pacing. To that end, the pacing actually is just enough to keep viewers watching from beginning to end, even with all of the plot holes and other problems that pose issues for the movie. Keeping those issues in mind along with everything else mentioned here, the noted elements collectively make Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker a work that while hardly a winning finale for this franchise, is not a complete loss.
Disney and Lucasfilm’s finale to Star Wars’ Skywalker franchise is an intriguing closer for the franchise that started out with such a bang more than four decades ago. It is a work that is clearly hindered greatly by its writing, but is also saved at least somewhat by its visual effects. The bonus content that is featured with the movie’s home release will appeal to a very targeted audience. The primary bonus feature, “The Skywalker Legacy” is a completely improperly titled presentation, considering its content, detracting from its appeal even more. There is also a missed opportunity in the opening for a discussion on the role of race in cinema, as has already been noted here. The story’s pacing works with its visual effects to make up at least a little bit for the problems created by the story’s script and bonus content. All things considered, this finale to the Star Wars Skywalker saga is a disappointing finish to the current leg of the franchise, but is not a complete loss. It is worth at least one watch. More information on the movie and all things Lucasfilm is available at:
More information on the home release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available at:
To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.