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Review: The final episode in the 42-year sci-fi thriller throws narrative fluidity by the wayside

SUBMITTED PHOTO - 'The Rise of Skywalker' returns all the characters from the previous film, 'The Last Jedi,' and adds a plethora of new characters as well.

It's a near universal agreement among 'Star Wars' fans that George Lucas's prequels – episodes I, II and III of the Skywalker Saga – aren't very good. It's one of the few things fans of the franchise don't argue about these days. Those movies exist in their afterlife as fodder for memes rather than debate-worthy viewing.

Where the prequels actually succeeded was their following of a somewhat linear story – a series of both important and unimportant events that culminated in the creation of Darth Vader in "Revenge of the Sith."

The newest trilogy of 'Star Wars' films could take a lesson from the most mocked one.

"The Rise of Skywalker" concludes the legendary science fiction saga with a narrative thud, refusing to add anything new or interesting to the lore of 'Star Wars.' It strives to erase pesky attempts to diverge from old clichés and tell new stories by being spectacularly dull and repetitive, pigeonholing great characters into endings that sound like Twitter users wrote them.

It's obvious that director JJ Abrams read the tweets. Abrams clearly didn't agree with the direction Rian Johnson steered the franchise in "The Last Jedi," so he decided to smack together a hodge podge of course correcting fan service.

(Spoilers from here on out, fellow nerds. Stop reading now if you haven't seen the movie yet. Or don't. I don't care).

This movie tries in the end to argue that family name doesn't matter, but the story leads one to believe that it's the only thing that does matter. Rey is strong with the force because she is Emperor Palpatine's granddaughter (gasp), and the only way for her to survive and win is by… confronting her grandfather (double gasp). She is no longer a regular person with magical abilities as was posited by the previous film – she's a legacy Jedi like all the rest.

I could spend a long time unpacking everything that is wrong with that conclusion to Rey's story, but I have a word limit in these reviews. I just think it's disappointing that the biggest female hero in Star Wars – someone that little girls and boys all over the world look up to – has her power attributed to a man in her family and could only defeat that man with the help of another man (Kylo Ren), who she ends up kissing in the end after his heroic sacrifice. It's just abjectly stupid.

Rey's character isn't the only one to suffer at the hands of Abrams' haphazard ending. Finn – the stormtrooper turned resistance hero who is revealed to be sensitive to The Force – is marginalized and only brought to the foreground when he is needed to assist other characters. I'm pretty sure C-3PO had more speaking lines in this movie than Finn.

Why introduce these new, compelling characters if you're only going to put them right back where you found them? And why build a story around a new Jedi hero if they're only going to face the exact same dilemmas as their predecessors?

I've been wrestling with these and many other questions in my head for days since I saw the film on opening night. "The Rise of Skywalker" was fun and entertaining in spots, but it left me with a sour taste in my mouth – the kind one gets when they see a great story fall victim to external pressures.

'Star Wars' has been a money machine for decades, but it's never felt more like one than at its conclusion. By the sheer force of the Internet's collective rage – and big studio Hollywood's valuing safe choices and branding over an interesting story that takes risks – the three sequel films ended up being a pretty mediocre story.

In attempting to cater to fans, Abrams and company actually did them a disservice. We told 'Star Wars,' "I love you," and it replied, "I know."


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