Never has a movie split the Star Wars fandom more than episode 9. After the train wreck and utter disrespect for the franchise seen in The Last Jedi, I went into this one expecting the absolute worst.
Now, before I tell you my view on the movie, I just want to point out that the blame for how this entire trilogy turned out, falls squarely on the shoulders of Disney, Kathleen Kennedy, and that little twerp Rian Johnson.
It is clear from episode 9 that JJ Abrams did have a story planned for these characters, but thanks to the quite frankly bizarre decision to give full creative freedom to three different directors, each with their own unique visions of what the movies should be, it was always going to end up a disjointed mess.
Abrams did well in setting up some tantalising mysteries in Force Awakens, but then along came Johnson and The Last Jedi, and those threads were disrespected and tossed aside leaving nothing for episode 9. I said in my review of that movie that the ending felt more like a conclusion to the series rather than a second part.
Salvaging the trilogy?
I went alone to the cinema to see this movie (after the last one my wife refused to go) and went in with very very low expectations. As soon as the opening crawl began to go up the screen I initially thought WTF but then I remembered that this had to be its own thing, a sort of stand-alone as it was the only direction it could have gone. All those thinking Palpatine returning is stupid should know that this very thing happened in the old expanded universe. Instantly I thought to myself ‘Why did Disney ditch the old Expanded Universe if they were going to steal and copy parts of it?’
Anyway, we jump straight into an action scene which only further highlights that the folks in charge of these movies A- did not really know what they were doing and B- know nothing of the established Star Wars lore. Po and Finn are on the run after picking up a message from a First Order spy and rather than just outrunning or blasting their pursuers embark on Hyperspace skipping which just like the Holdo manoeuvre in the previous film ditches established lore on how FTL works in the Star Wars Universe. He ‘skips’ the Falcon without any planning or navigation several times, including into the atmosphere of planets, the middle of an asteroid field and some alien city, all without causing horrific damage or crashing into anything. (sigh)
Guess who’s Back…
Anyhow, the plot progresses by showing Kylo meeting with Palpatine. Now, it’s not explained at all but I’m guessing from his appearance this is a clone of the Emperor as it looks nothing like the one we saw in Return of the Jedi and more like a weird cross between the Palpatine of the original trilogy and some messed up zombie dude. This is where we encounter one of the many plot problems, in that NOTHING is explained. Did Palpatine always have a clone waiting in reserve in case he died? We do get a resolution to just who and what Snoke was. A clone created by Palpatine. It does not explain why there is more than one Snoke clone, which we clearly see in various forms floating about in vats.
I do not want to go through every scene as this will take forever, but the plot involves our heroes chasing down some do-hickey that points the way to where Palpatine is hiding. Kylo Ren is sent by Palpatine to kill Rey to put an end to the Jedi (why just Rey and not Leia too?). The plot then devolves into a hectic run through several locations, a few scrapes with the First Order and possibly one of the worst scenes in the entire franchise.
They Fly Now?
Why, why, why do our heroes shout this in surprise? During a pursuit, some stormtroopers launched themselves into the air using jetpacks and our heroes act as though they have never seen this before. To me, this scene just proves this movie was written by people who do not know anything about Star Wars. Jet troopers have always been in Star Wars. In the books, games, and animated shows there are loads of them. Hell, even in Return of the Jedi we see Boba Fett using one. As I sat there watching this scene, I rolled my eyes and gritted my teeth. What the f**k have you done Kathleen Kennedy!
Don’t think too hard
It seems to be a thing in Hollywood these days that writers are well, a bit shit. One scene makes absolutely no sense. They retrieve an ancient Sith dagger that then leads them to Endor and the wreckage of the Death Star. Question: How did the ancient Sith know the Death Star would be built? How did the person who made the dagger know exactly how the wreckage would land so that someone could use it to find a room that somehow miraculously survived a cataclysmic explosion and over 30 years in a violent sea? Ugh.
Rey gets inside the wreckage and finds said room where for some reason she is accosted by a vision of her as a Sith. She defeats that and then finds the device needed to find Palpatine.
Then comes a lightsaber duel between Kylo and Rey which is very well shot and dramatic thanks to the waves crashing over them. It is in this scene that for some reason Leia uses the force to I guess distract Kylo and then she promptly dies. (What is it with these movies? You get a bit tired and then just suddenly die). Rey stabs Kylo but then realises that it was wrong to try and kill him. She heals him with the Force (Yes this is a power that has been seen many times in the lore) and flees after learning that she is the granddaughter of Palpatine.
Kylo is redeemed following a chat with his dead dad and he sets off to help Rey kill the Emperor. Meanwhile, Rey for some reason goes back to the planet we last saw in the Last Jedi and we meet the ghost of Luke Skywalker. Now, I liked this scene as JJ went some way to try and redeem the character following his absolute butchering at the hands of Johnson. We learn that Leia was a full Jedi, and that she had even made her own Lightsaber.
I want to see this movie! Not this garbage
We are then treated to a flashback scene (my favourite in the whole movie) that uses CGI to show us a young Luke and Leia sparring together. As I watched it, I could not help but feel that this was the movie I wanted to see. With the technology now available I just wish that they could have adapted Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy using the original characters.
Anyway, back to this movie and well, things happen. Now that I have had time to digest it there is just so many plot holes and stupid choices that I can’t bring myself to go through them all. The space battle is bland, with it’s only saving grace being the brief cameo made by Wedge Antilles and Lando being back in the Millennium Falcon. There is a ridiculously stupid charge on a Star Destroyer by space horse things that makes no sense, and oh yeah, about 60,000 ships arrive to take on the Emperor’s fleet of death star laser wielding destroyers despite in the last movie no one came to help.
Despite all of these very valid criticisms of this movie, I didn’t leave the cinema furious like I did after Last Jedi. I did enjoy it despite the plot holes, the bizarre creative choices and I think I did because this movie ‘felt’ like a Star Wars movie.
If anything after watching this film my hatred for episode 8 has intensified. That movie left JJ with little to work with. I feel as though what we see in Rise of Skywalker is the best and only way to bring this wasted opportunity of a trilogy to a close. It tries to fix the problems created by the second movie and delivers plenty of fan service.
Now that these movies are over, I just hope Disney has learnt its lesson. Give us a Knights of the Old Republic Trilogy and plan it properly. Use the writers who worked on the games if you must. It could be epic.