Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Parent Guide
A bloated movie that lacks the passion and imagination of the original trilogy. At least the special effects are good.
Parent Movie Review
I’m going to begin this review by warning you that I’m obsessed with Star Wars. I’ve seen the movies, I’ve read the books, I have Wookiepedia bookmarked on my browser, and I have a Millennium Falcon keychain, for goodness sake. To put it bluntly, I’ve got nerd cred. Sadly, that means I’m incurably annoyed over Disney’s wretched mishandling of the Star Wars universe I grew up with. But for your sake, I’m going to rein myself in and forbear from ranting about Disney’s misunderstanding of how a hyperdrive works, critiquing power-creep in the Force, or trying to reconcile different version of Star Wars canon. You’re welcome already.
You don’t have to share my nerdiness to be irked by the sloppy writing in the final episode of the final Star Wars trilogy. And this is a problem because there’s a lot going on here. The Rise of Skywalker has to tie up plot lines from the trilogy while also completing the narrative arc between antagonists Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) of the evil First Order and Rey (Daisy Ridley), the young Jedi. While George Lucas has never been famous for good writing - awkwardly florid dialogue is more his style – at least his macro-scale character writing is surprisingly good and he provided his characters with consistent personality traits and motivations. The sequel trilogy? Not so much. None of the cast have the same motivations from scene to scene, let alone from movie to movie, which is catastrophic in a film where so much is happening. In one minor example, General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) bears little resemblance to the role he played in The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi. He shows up, completely mangles his previous development, and then moves on. He has maybe ten minutes of screen time, and that’s all it takes to make a mess of any work in the last two films.
The movie also has a loose grasp on “planting and payoff”. Without spoiling anything, at several points in the film, one character tries to tell another character something. Others ask about what he was going to say. By the end of the film, I expected a dramatic reveal. Or at least a dumb joke. Nope. They just…forgot to finish that little plotline. And while that’s a small example, this kind of slapdash approach to screenwriting is infuriating to watch and it further bloats a movie that is already stuffed to the gills with plot lines and story arcs.
These examples of sloppy writing are, I think, emblematic of a larger problem with Disney’s current approach to filmmaking. By and large, these movies don’t have the same enthusiastic passion-project feel of the original trilogy, that spark that gave it so much life. Instead, there is an overreliance on a cynical corporate nostalgia - as if Disney remaking their animated back-catalogue in live action is just as artistically significant as the films were in the first place, and not some cheap attempt to grab more cash from aging properties. In the case of Star Wars, that nostalgia forms the core of the significant parts of the film, and it makes the newer additions feel like cheap icing on a decent cake. Even the soundtrack is blandly forgettable - except when it quotes from the original scores.
As far as the content goes, there isn’t anything here you don’t expect. There’s virtually nothing to worry about in the areas of sex, booze, or swearing. Just the usual stylized sci-fi violence – but there’s lots of that as lightsabers whip around and spaceships explode. Much like the rest of the franchise, this probably isn’t suitable for young kids, as there are some frightening images and general peril. Also, the movie is two-and-a-half hours long, which is a bit much for the younglings.
From its humble beginnings as a weird passion project in the late 70s, the Star Wars franchise has become one of the most profitable and culturally recognizable media properties in the world. Since being taken over by Disney, however, the franchise seems to have forgotten how to innovate. Trying to balance a colossal franchise on such spindly legs was bound to end badly. And so, stagnating on recycled plots and characters, Star Wars finishes less on a bang than a whimper. This is how a franchise dies - to thunderous applause.Directed by J.J. Abrams. Starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and John Boyega. Running time: 142 minutes. Theatrical release December 20, 2019. Updated December 20, 2019
Watch the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Rating & Content Info
Why is Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker rated PG-13? Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sci-fi violence and action.
Violence: Dozens of individuals are wounded, maimed, and killed with lightsabers and blasters. Some of those scenes are quite gory, with blood and wounds. A man’s face melts in one scene; he then explodes. A character fights an airborne vessel with a lightsaber: it crashes. Millions are killed in explosions. There are battles between flying vessels; some crash. A severed alien head is shown. A giant serpent hisses at people. People are trapped in a force field and collapse. A character holds a gun against a man’s head and threatens to kill him.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss. People hug and kiss in celebration.
Profanity: Three mild profanities are used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There are references to the fictional drug, “spice”, but with no descriptions or depictions of any kind. Some creatures drink unknown beverages in a bar.
Page last updated December 20, 2019
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Parents' Guide
***Spoilers Ahead*** Kylo Ren believes that he has done too much evil to ever come back to his family. What changes his mind? What does he do to earn forgiveness? Do you think it is enough for the suffering he has caused?
Rey has always been concerned about her family, but when she finds who she is descended from, the revelation devastates her. How much does relation matter? Leia tells her to “never be afraid of who she is.” What does this quote mean the first time we hear it? What meaning does it develop later in the film?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
There used to be a large extended canon of novels published in the Star Wars universe, but when Disney bought Lucasfilm they removed them from the canon, and they’re now very difficult to find. If you can get your hands on those, they’re a good way to explore the rich galaxy. The newer publications are by and large not as good, although Darth Plagueis by James Luceno is well done and covers Palpatine’s backstory.
Ender’s Game, while tonally different, is an engaging sci-fi read for teens and adults alike, with deep moral considerations and strong character work.
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2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick was one of George Lucas’ inspirations for the first Star Wars film.