There’s a famous restaurant in New York called Peter Luger Steak House. It was established in 1887, and boasts brass chandeliers, exposed wooden beams and aromas to excite your ancestors. The hiss of sizzling butter and prospect of broiled dry-aged beef prompts salivation for blocks over.
Look through the nostalgia though. The steaks have greyed; they’re chewy. The New York Times shamed them with a zero-star review, chastising the restaurant for riding on former glories. In a galaxy far, far away, there’s a coarse comparison to be had.
A Star Wars film, traditionally, evokes excitement and wonder. This time, the glow of nostalgia has long since faded. The toxicity of fan clubs battling over The Force Awakens vs. The Last Jedi has soured the show. So is it a surprise that, rather than boundaries pushed, we’re left squarely in the middle – on entry number nine?
There are good parts. Back at the helm, J.J. Abrams uses his skill for efficient, eye-catching blockbuster cinema to good effect. There is undoubted fun here, whizzing and whooshing between asteroids and battleships. Adam Driver sells Kylo Ren’s character arc well, and Oscar Isaac brings much-needed spice.
But there’s a chewy, gristlier edge to this largely competent dish. Something even rose-tinted glasses can’t mask. Its race to undo elements of The Last Jedi, skipping from MacGuffin to MacGuffin, makes for uncomfortable viewing. The omnipresent winks at the audience pull a sharp handbrake on any innovation the film may attempt, forcing the creativity to exit stage left. Far from reprehensible, The Rise of Skywalker manages initially to evoke frustration, which evolves to a profound apathy defined by questions of what could’ve been.
The third Star Wars saga is over. It is what it is. It’s simply not the series anyone hoped it would be. The steak’s fine. Maybe a bit overdone for now.
CAST: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Billy Dee Williams
DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams
WRITERS: J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio (story & screenplay), Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow (story)
SYNOPSIS: The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more as Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron’s journey continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences.