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The Force Is Not So Strong With This One – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review


With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker coming to dvd, digital download, and Disney+ this week, I decided to finally post the review I wrote for the movie 3 months ago. I never posted it because I felt very frustrated by the movie, but alas… here are my feelings.

The time has finally come, the final instalment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy and (apparently) the last film in the Skywalker saga has been released and i am here to talk about it. I myself am a big fan of the Star Wars films, and have been thoroughly enjoying the sequel trilogy since it’s debut with The Force Awakens back in 2015. Written and directed by J.J Abrams TFA was able to bring old and new fans of the Star Wars movies together, enjoying the return of old characters and introductions of those who were new. That was then followed by the second movie: The Last Jedi written and directed by Rian Johnson. This movie was met with both extremely positive and very negative reviews back in 2017, pretty much dividing the Star Wars fandom by those who either loved or hated The Last Jedi. I myself was indifferent to The Last Jedi, and most certainly didn’t feel the extreme love or hate that others did. Though i was very excited to see what J.J Abrams would then do when he ultimately returned to write (alongside Chris Terrio) and direct the final film in this trilogy.

The Rise of Skywalker picks up about a year after the end of the last film. With Rey training with Leia, Finn and Poe flying with BB-8 to gain first order secrets, and Kylo Ren seeking out the rumoured now-alive Palpatine. Though as the movie begins to gain way, it feels as though all character and story development from the last film has been ignored. Ultimately sending the story downhill.

Rise Tico, played by the wonderful actress Kelly Marie Tran, has been almost completely pushed to the side lines. Almost never leaving the rebel base or saying more lines than i can count with one hand. She actually had a pretty major role in The Last Jedi – having saved as well as kissed one of the main characters (Finn), she also said a line that could pretty much encapsulate the entire franchise: “that’s how we’ll win. not fighting what we hate. saving what we love” Yet in this film she has a screen time of 1min 16 seconds, and her interactions with Finn (wherever they are) feel as though they are between co-workers, rather than romantic interests.

Rose Tico in The Rise of Skywalker (Lucasfilm)

While I can admit that there are certain moments where i felt a sense of nostalgia and excitement as a Star Wars fan, i couldn’t help but immediately be caught off guard by them as well. As much as i loved having Billy Dee Williams back as Lando Calrissian and seeing him command the Millenium Falcon again — it felt forced. There was no real reason he was there, other than to please fans and make us feel nostalgic. But there was also no explanation as to how or why he was where he was. How had the resistance never come into contact with him before now? does he know about Han? We witness Leia training Rey, because as we know from TLJ, Luke is now one with the force. Although, if Leia is strong enough with the force to train Rey, why did she not train her son herself rather than send him off to Luke? And why did we not know more about Leia’s force abilities until now? Then, with the return of Palpatine, there is no explanation as to how he survived, or how such powerful force users such as Luke Skywalker (or even Kylo Ren for that matter) never sensed him until now. While it was cool, it would’ve been cooler and made more sense had it been introduced sooner or been established well and properly. This makes it quite obvious that there were no prior plans to have Palpatine return, and thus makes the entire trilogy feel like each writer/director was blindly moving the plot forwards with no clear idea of how it would ultimately end.

Poe, BB-8, Chewie, and Lando in The Millenium Falcon (Lucasfilm)

Instead of nicely concluding the saga, it felt as though Abrams and Chris Terrio (co-writer), tried to write the screenplay by piecing together all of the different fan theories and predictions they could find on the internet, resulting in a weird mish-mash of fan-service and retconning. While I have no problem with catering to fans now and then, it only works when the plot lines actually make sense and line up with one another. In this instance it felt like the writers wanted to please each different group of people watching. Their attempt to fix the divide that The Last Jedi made only resulted in many more upset and frustrated fans. I would much rather the plot make sense and be not what i wanted, instead of it be a weird mess full of plot holes and questions left unanswered.

All in all i found The Rise of Skywalker to bring me joy at parts but then completely take it away. Like giving a baby a piece of candy, but only letting them have one bite. Each time i thought it was getting better it ended up getting worse. Adam Driver as the interesting and complex Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is what ultimately saves this movie for me, playing one of the best Star Wars characters we’ve seen. Although this ending (and his to be specific) left me unsatisfied and frustrated, and as a Star Wars fan — i think it’s safe to say the original trilogy is the best and only trilogy.

The Lion King Remake: Enjoyable but Missing Something

About a week ago, I watched the remake of The Lion King. Full disclosure: I am not one of those people who is obsessed with Disney movies and has seen each one over 100 times. The last time I saw the original Lion King was well over ten years ago, and I barely remembered it, aside from the main plot points (for example, I completely forgot that the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” was in the movie…oops!). Despite my lack of enthusiasm compared to hardcore Disney fans, I was still excited for the film. The visuals looked spectacular, and I enjoyed the live action remakes for The Jungle Book and Beauty & the Beast, so I was optimistic.

After having seen the movie, I can say that it was enjoyable, and even good, but it was missing…something, although I can’t put my finger on exactly what that something is. I think it was several things put together, so to help me explain it, I am going to list what I liked and didn’t like about the movie. Warning: spoilers ahead!

What I Liked About The Lion King

  • The visuals, obviously! The CGI in this film was absolutely spectacular. It is probably the best CGI I have ever seen. Characters such as Mufasa, adult Simba, Scar, and Pumbaa looked so real it was unbelievable. Don’t even get me started on the landscape – if someone told me that they shot the entire movie on location in Africa and added the animals in post, I would have believed them.

  • I know a lot of people have complained about the fact that the animals can’t emote like their animated counterparts, but there were a few that I felt emoted very strongly. You could always tell exactly what Pumbaa was thinking and feeling, despite him being an ultra-realistic looking warthog. Scar’s expressions were also brilliant, and he looked far more menacing than his animated counterpart, which made him a better villain in my opinion. I was also very impressed with Sarabi’s facial expressions – they were probably the best of all the animals, as they conveyed shock and heartbreak brilliantly.

  • There were some excellent performances. Pumbaa was perfectly cast, and Timon was also great (I had high expectations for him because he is my favourite character, but Billy Eichner did a wonderful job). I was also very impressed with Scar – I had read online that people weren’t happy with Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance, but I thought it was perfect. His voice was very intimidating and villainous, and made Scar a much more interesting antagonist. Scar’s scenes were probably my favourite part of the movie because I was so impressed with his characterization.

  • Timon and Pumbaa’s scenes were terrific, and were the most fun part of the movie. Their dynamic was great and real, and although Seth Rogen’s singing voice isn’t the best, Billy Eichner has one of the best voices in the movie, and together they make the musical numbers vastly entertaining. Also, Timon’s use of “Be Our Guest”to tempt the hyenas was absolutely hilarious.

  • This movie gets bonus points for depicting my two favourite animals (meerkats and lions, respectively).

What I Didn’t Like About The Lion King

  • It felt a little … rushed. It didn’t feel like one cohesive movie, and instead felt like a bunch of different clips thrown together. I felt like the story needed more time to breathe instead of rushing to the next event, but from what I’ve heard the original was quite rushed as well, in which case this complaint is more about the story in general.

  • Sorry Beyoncé fans, but the singer’s performance was my least favourite thing about this remake. Her voice is not suited for voice acting at all – it was so quiet that I could hardly hear her at times, and she barely expressed any emotion, even in scenes where it was required. It felt like she was simply reading her lines and not putting any effort into voice acting­. Her performance really pulled me out of the film, as it felt and sounded like a person reading lines as opposed to a character speaking. I truly feel that if they had cast someone else I would have enjoyed this film much more.

  • I love Donald Glover as an actor (hey, fellow Community fans!), but I just didn’t feel that his voice really suited Simba. Don’t get me wrong, he did not have Beyoncé’s problem of not putting any emotion into his lines – in fact, his performance was great. I just don’t think his voice matched his character. When I see a large, majestic lion, I imagine a deep, powerful voice and presence, such as that of James Earl Jones. Donald’s voice just doesn’t scream powerful, majestic animal to me.

  • I wasn’t super happy with Mufasa’s death scene or his speech to Simba in the clouds. His death is a heartbreaking moment, and to be honest I was tearing up just thinking about it, but when it actually happened, it didn’t hit me as hard as I expected it to (I did cry, but not that much). Simba’s reaction to his father’s death just didn’t do it for me, especially because he is only sad for about ten seconds and doesn’t even cry. I was dreading this scene, but it honestly wasn’t even that bad. Mufasa’s speech to adult Simba was also lacking, mostly because we never see his face like we do in the animated version. This really took away from the emotional impact, and made it feel hollow.

  • This movie didn’t feel as fun as the original, perhaps because it was so realistic. This is kind of a vague complaint but it just felt far more serious, and seemed to lack some of the Disney magic that made it a classic in the first place.

Overall, I would probably give this movie about a 6.5/10. Certain aspects of it were very impressive, but it was really brought down by the miscasting of the two leads, the lack of feeling in two crucial scenes, and the more serious approach. I would watch it again, but I feel that most Disney fans will probably prefer the original (which I need to rewatch).  

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