Before we get into this and scare everyone off with the bold spoiler warning, I’m gonna toot my own holiday horn for a second. Back in April, I wrote a little piece called “J.J. Abrams Didn’t Even Want to Direct ‘Episode IX’, so Maybe Start Lowering Those Expectations,” which I’m not going to say is the most prescient piece of pop culture ever farted onto this gaping mistake called the internet, but also, maybe it was? Here’s a brief excerpt:
In fairness, all Abrams has to do is pull off a more action-oriented closer a la Return of the Jedi, which is his bag. Plus, it’s not like he can just plow right over the events of The Last Jedi and do something stupid like retconning Rey’s parents. Could you imagine?
If you’ve seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, then chances are you’re making a big ol’ YEESH face right about now because welp…
SPOILERS FOR ‘RISE OF SKYWALKER’
Ever since The Last Jedi, a good and awesome Star Wars, Holdo Maneuvered into theaters two years ago, the discourse surrounding that movie has been — How do I put this? — some shit. And it’s showing zero signs of going away especially because its most toxic detractors just received a sloppy, fan-service beeje from Rise of Skywalker in the form of their three biggest complaints being blatantly retconned. It’s almost like writer Chris Terrio (Justice League) and Abrams went down a checklist.
1. Rey is an over-powered Mary Sue. Surprise! She’s the Emperor’s granddaughter now because apparently Anakin wasn’t the only one raw-dogging it through the Clone Wars. And, no, I’m not having a field day with that information. How dare you?
When you old but still bust that nut pic.twitter.com/04h3JC8U9M— Mike Redmond (@theredmond) December 24, 2019
2. Why is this Asian girl in my space wizard movie, Disney, you social justice bastards? Not anymore! After Kelly Marie Tran was ran off the internet by dickless, racist rolls, you’d think Abrams would want to avoid giving said trolls exactly what they want by practically erasing her character Rose Tico from the movie.
He practically erased Rose Tico from the movie.
After being a central part of The Last Jedi, Rose might as well be a tarp covering up an X-wing in the background. Not only does Finn barely acknowledge her presence, but when it comes time to start the big mission, she’s left back to stare at a computer screen while wearing an all-beige outfit. Think Ann from Arrested Development, but sometimes Princess Leia walks by. Honestly, it’s amazing Tran even had lines.
3. Luke threw away his lightsaber! MAH CHILDHOOD! During a pivotal scene in Rise of Skywalker, Rey throws away her saber, which cues up the inevitable entrance of Force Ghost Luke. I shit you not, his very first action right out of the gate to is literally catch Rey’s lightsaber — because the Force is goddamn out of control in this movie — as he drop this hot turd: “A Jedi’s weapon deserves more respect.” C’MON. Luke then spends the rest of the time basically saying what he dick he was during the last movie, and by that point, an usher might as well have walked through the aisle offering to burn people’s copies of The Last Jedi in the parking lot.
For the record, these aren’t just my nitpicks. Enough people have noticed that Rise of Skywalker really seems to be taking a huge dump on The Last Jedi that Abrams already had to address the issue during a Q&A screening. Via GeekTyrant:
“Another thing I’ll say is I think that people who say, ‘Oh, this film is flipping off The Last Jedi when Luke says the thing he does about the lightsaber.’ If the scene in The Last Jedi where Luke tosses the saber over his shoulder were immediately followed by Luke saying ‘A Jedi’s weapon deserves more respect,’ I’d think it was insane. But one of the many brilliant things that Rian did in Last Jedi is give Luke an arc. He learned something. He got somewhere. At the end of that film, he committed - recommitted - to the thing that at the very beginning of the film he was rejecting.”
In Abrams’ defense, there is some wiggle room in that answer, and it does sort of track regarding Luke’s growth — from a certain point of view. (God, I’m a nerd.) However, it’s hard to look at the list of items that Rise of Skywalker went out of its way to “fix” and not see a pattern, which honestly, I’m fine with. Did I genuinely hope that Rise would be a fitting conclusion to The Force Awakens, which was magnificently bolstered by its sequel? Of course. I love Star Wars more than my own kids! Plus, no one wants to plunk down money for a shitty movie that’s made only worse by the woman who talked and vaped during the whole thing. (Movie theaters are goddamn hell on earth send tweet.) But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I am enjoying a perverse thrill that toxic fans got everything they wanted, and the end result was a honking turd that people are equating with the prequels. I’m not willing to go that far, but I definitely understand those who do.
In conclusion, we don’t deserve Rian Johnson, who is somehow still fighting the good fight.
Gil, I understand that point of view but I completely disagree with it. In fact I think it disrespects the character of Luke by treating him not as a true mythic hero overcoming recurring wounds & flaws, but as a video game character who has achieved a binary, permanent power-up.— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) December 20, 2019
Header Image Source: Lucasfilm/Disney