Not unlike a crumbly Palpatine, old Jack returns! Yup – not dead, just tied into some horrifying technology to get this ancient body back to passable health. And a merry new year to you all. After a brief sojourn to the town hospice, I have been wheeled back to the home, and good to go for my 100s, said Surgeon Glib-Twatt.
And so to the TV room. Still fetid, still stale, still stained by Projectile Pete’s last ejaculation, it welcomed me like the faux coffin it is. So, old Jack thought, sod it. Let’s annoy the oldest grandchild (Ivan the Incel, although he threatened to mess up the tuck shop if a girl said that, and his mother isn’t impressed either), and watch the final chunk of the Star Wars trilogy in nine parts. Past the middle-aged themes of The Last Jedi, where was there to go for Disney but the obsessions of Grandpa Palpatine and the The Rise of Skywalker…?
Again. I was wheelchaired to the cinema to bask in this glory of noise and special effects just before COVID robbed me of my care home colleagues in East Wing. They had squirrels and vents to the smoking hut where Phlegmy Phil gargled his last. Old Jack here still gets emotional.
Anyway – to the rising Skywalker…
SPOILERY, I GUESS:
J.J. Abrams (director, writer, apologist) and company got beaten up for the previous film being an act of creative genius, gave in to an urge to regurgitate bits of the old films, and paid Ian McDiarmid to hiss, spit and piss. Scene 1 – the long dead Emperor “Palpy” Palpatine, now very very old and reconstituted by some software (IncPlo77 – Incomprehensible Plotting Ltd), goes full raging oldster and gets all the bad guys in one giant cave, does magic, creates an evil fleet to kill a galaxy of good folk, and hangs by the arse from some ferocious tubing. Not unlike having your back end wiped by Nurse Stabby-Fingers, thought old Jack, when he still had an arse. The piss bit was a lie.
So. Big blurry evil croaks and growls and claims to have been pulling the strings of the last few incomprehensible plots…
Cut to beautiful young folk fighting bad guys. The Rebels are holed up on a pretty planet, there are trees. Rey the Forced One is learning how to stab the trees as rumours of Grumpy Grandad reach town. Plot contrivance: Luke had been looking for him, and so must they, which involves toy pyramid things. So off they all go in directions you’ll neither follow nor care about, hunting tiny pyramids, to to find Emperor “the Palpster” Palpy Palpatine. Or something.
It’s all about the characters, you say?
There are horrible jokes to be made about Leia, played here by the already-dead Carrie Fisher, but there’s something sweet about the film using cutting-room snippets to take her into the jungles to advise Rey with generic one-liners. Sometimes a franchise sails up its own importance in our culture, only here it is touching. All the weight is taken by Daisy Ridley and Fisher’s real life daughter, Billie Lourd, what with them being alive at time of recording. The former provides fairly leaden nay leading dialogue for Fisher’s avatar to nod at. Some time later, Lourd bids a sweet farewell over her mother-as-silent-Leia. The grace note matters, and you can only imagine how hard it was for the people who knew her.
Of course, similar respect could have been shown to the characters and actors of Finn and Rose. The former earned a whole chunk of story in the previous outings, but is denied this in favour of generic one-liners to illuminate Oscar Isaac’s Poe. Barred from using my phone in the cinema, old Jack here worried John Boyega was dead as well. He wasn’t, he was just – save some terrific horse-things-on-a-ship heroics – let down really really badly. Really. Really badly. And so was Kelly Marie Tran. All her lines went to a Hobbit.
The main stuff of the story belongs to Rey and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. She gets new healing powers, he gets a new hat. They bond telepathically and have a dash of physical connection when doing so. Enough to allow props to be grabbed from one’s location to the other… and then the power forgotten, cos they have to meet up to fight on a mighty ocean (where giant waves splash but winds don’t throw you anywhere, so, you know, pretty; this may be the wrong place to quibble about physics)… and fend off Grandpa Palpypuss. They are… likeable… and total victims of a plot that tries to rebalance them in the face of a very very angry, yet insufficiently dribbly ex-Emperor. Or Clone Emperor. Or Magic-Cloney Palpiter. Or something… Old Jack would’ve used telepathic touching to cop a feel. At least they’d have had some fun. And a better week than C-3PO.
Buy extra popcorn; the character stuff is watery as fuck.But yet…
And, that’s enough, as you will think several times during the film. The Rise of Skywalker is mighty, confusing, a wounding drop after the last one, but solid enough as a final bloating of the original story. And proper fun. Sometime’s even a joy. Boxing Day or May the 4th. You choose.
Are there lessons for the oldsters? Stay dead, most probably. And moisturise. And don’t let your kids – or their kids – grow up in a fug of secrets. And if, say, you become a Force Ghost of a former franchise lead, sod the diet. Let it go, you have sparkly robes. And it’s all about the kids now.