Eppler: 'Rise of Skywalker' more concerned with 'fixing' previou - FOX34 Lubbock

Eppler: 'Rise of Skywalker' more concerned with 'fixing' previous movie

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We won't discuss any specifics in "The Rise of Skywalker" to avoid even the semblance of spoilers, but to understand how this movie works, some history is needed: There was a small, vocal set of "Star Wars" fans who have been mad on the internet the past couple years about the previous movie, "The Last Jedi," because of some of the decisions writer and director Rian Johnson made. They didn't like grumpy Luke Skywalker, they didn't like the new Force abilities, they didn't like Rey being no one from nowhere, and they really didn't like Johnson gently telling them to grow up and think differently about this series ("Let the past die").

Oh, and the trolls also didn't like the new character Rose and they bullied actress Kelly Marie Tran so much online that she got off social media. 
So in comes writer/director J.J. Abrams, who launched this new trilogy with "The Force Awakens," and he seems to have had a clear mandate: make everyone happy again. There's a scene in the new movie where Kylo Ren pieces his helmet back together - literally trying to fix what was broken in the last movie. Rose? She's sidelined. Let the past die? Nah, this is all about nostalgia. And the central idea that a hero can be anyone? Nope - it's in the bloodline.

It's like Abrams and company read a a bunch of angry "Star Wars" message boards and just made a movie out of it. 
So as a pop culture artifact, "The Rise of Skywalker" is depressing and troubling. As a "Star Wars" movie? It's alright. It moves briskly with lots of action sequences and snarky humor. The cast members have gotten comfy with their characters and their interactions pop. There are also a couple new characters I'm interested in that practically have "spin-off" stamped on their foreheads. 
Structurally, the movie repetitive with characters looking for a thing, getting in a fight, then going somewhere else to find the thing and getting in another fight. Story-wise, it's kind of a mess trying to patch up the last movie with characters like Kylo Ren spending a lot of time explaining that no, what you thought before is different now because fan service. 
There are some genuinely great moments here, and others that feel like cheap gotcha moments. The Force may not be strong with this one, but it's enjoyable enough. 


* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful - The worst, an insult to movies

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