The Rise and Fall of Steve Palpatine

There is a lot about The Rise Of Skywalker that is fun. It's a Star Wars film, it's worth seeing. BUT, I have some criticisms--I think Abrams has made a major mistake in shifting what the story is about.
The whole opening act is rushed. It's Star Wars, there's a tradition of beginning the films _in media res_, but this film chops off too much establishment. It's also edited badly...for the first half of the movie every shot is trimmed a half-second too short, not giving time for it to sink ink.
Someone on Facebook made the point that Poe & Finn are given color-matched love interests out of nowhere. This was particularly glaring since right before the film there was a trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 that featured Chris Pine heavily...the whole point of Chris Pine's character existing in the first WW film was to prove that WW isn't a lesbian, and introducing Zorii and Janah as love interests who get to do fairly little except make sacrifices for men they've only seen for 30 seconds serves the same purpose here, steering these characters back onto a track of non-controversial, normative heterosexuality.
There are way too many nods to Lost, not just Dominic Monaghan in a minor role made more annoying by his conspicuousness but also a shot right at the end with a dying Rey looking up at ships flying overhead, mirroring one of the last shots of Jack Shephard in the finale of that show.
The whole prequel trilogy seems to get erased, which is weird for a conclusion to a nine-film Hayden Christiansen force ghost, no visit to Naboo or any other planet from the prequels (there's a one-line Ewan MacGregor offscreen cameo). The AV Club's review talks about how the biggest problem with the film is that it walks back The Last Jedi but it's more than that.
Something I've talked about before is how expanding Star Wars beyond the original trilogy has shifted who the series is about. If you only watch A New Hope through Return of the Jedi, which is what I grew up with, the films are the story of Luke Skywalker, farmboy with a destiny. If you watch episodes 1 through 6, then they're the story of Anakin Skywalker's rise, hubris, fall and redemption.
I speculated once that the idea behind the new trilogy was to make the whole thing the story of the Skywalker family, and I think that's what it sort of tries to do...obviously the death of Carrie Fisher was worked around as best as could be done, and some lines and actions in the film were pretty clearly originally intended for Leia but then had to be redistributed or rewritten. That is life.
But by retconning Rey's origin -- she's not "nobody" anymore but Palpatine's granddaughter -- the emphasis of the tri-trilogy gets completely upturned. Remember, it's strongly implied in Revenge of the Sith that Anakin was a creation of the Sith in the first place. Therefore Rey and Ben's "dyad" starts with Palpatine. By ignoring the prequel trilogies, the only characters who appear in both Episodes I and IX are Artoo, Threepio and Palpatine.
Through the course of the films, who changes more, the Jedi or the Sith? The Sith, throughout, sustain themselves as a dyad of master and apprentice. The Jedi begin the series as a mighty, numerous order but by the end embrace the way of the Sith: a master and an apprentice. Are the Sith defeated? As much as they ever are. Are the Jedi defeated? Yes, they're reduced to one person, their history is lost, they've become the stuff of legend.
All nine films, taken together, become the story of the tyrant Sheev Palpatine. His machinations, his power, his hubris and fall. I don't want to say that that's an unworkable idea but Palpatine is a) the bad guy and b) never really fleshed out enough to be the center of the story. His first name is only ever stated, if I remember, in the Expanded Universe. In a film and series exploring the interplay between individual and family, volition and duty, he is only a last name.
Autocorrect wants me to write that as "Steve Palpatine." Somehow that's fitting.


Edmund Schluessel

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