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Thursday 16 January 2020

Burl reviews The Rise of Skywalker! (2019)

Ha ha and may the Force be with us all! Yes, it’s Burl, here to review the new Star Wars picture, The Rise of Skywalker! Now, I’m very sorry to be reviewing this one, as there is hardly a shortage of other reviews of it floating around I’m sure, and ol’ Burl’s opinion is about as necessary to the conversation as buttocks on a bug! Still, I saw it, so I figure I might as well review it! Ha ha!
I’ll say right at the start that the most striking thing about my viewing of the picture was just the sort of manufactured nostalgia the Disney people are I suppose counting on! It so happens that I saw the movie in the very same (though much changed) movie theatre in which I saw the original 1977 Star Wars with my father! This time around I was again with my father, and also this time with my son, who is about the same age as I was when I saw the first one! Ha ha! So there we have roughly the same sort of circular, multigenerational progression pattern as we see in the films themselves, and that gave me a brief, synthetically warm feeling about the old cockles!
And the movie itself? Ha ha! On the way in my son wondered  in what sort of deadly space orb the Resistance fighters would blow up this time, and I don’t wonder at his eight year-old’s cynicism! We were both surprised to find that an orb is not blown up at the climax; rather, a series of towers and starships! But otherwise things played out in the way you’d expect a reunion concert from some old favourite hit band might, with all the old hits recycled and special guests wheeled out like Hannibal Lecter on his pushcart!
Why, the old Colt .45 himself, Lando Calrissian - still played with great suavité by Billy Dee Williams from Fear City and Deadly Illusion and Number One With A Bullet - appears, and gets to mack on the ladies, even Leia, sort of! There are other Special Guest Stars too, like Wedge, and what looks to be the son of Porkins (equally ill-fated, I'm afraid), and also a Jawa shouting “Boutini!” (Ha ha, we still don’t know what that means, do we?) For a while I thought we might get a cameo from The All-Consuming Sarlacc, or maybe his brother, but it never happened!
Still, the new cast - including John Boyega from Attack the Block, Oscar Isaac from Inside Llewyn Davis, and Adam Driver from The Dead Don't Die - continues to perform with energy and aplomb (though I lost count of how many times the action stopped for tears to roll down Daisy Ridley’s cheek), and director J. J. Abrams, returning to the galaxy far, far away from The Force Awakens a few years ago, keeps things moving at a frantic, sometimes too-frantic, pace! Ha ha, I wish he’d do a movie like Super 8 again! Both as a film and as a nostalgia generating machine, I enjoyed that one quite a bit! In the case of this new movie, sure, I liked hanging out with Chewie and enjoyed Luke’s appearance as a hologram, and C3-PO was not too annoying this time around! (Chewie, when shown naked without his bandolier, looks more like Bigfoot than ever!) And Emperor Bolpatine, ugly as an old pike, is still played in Creep Factor 5 by Ian MacDiarmid, and can still shoot lightning from his fingers! Quite a bit of it, actually!
In the end I preferred the last entry, which is to say The Last Jedi! Ha ha, it’s strange to see how this latest trilogy is shaping up like the first trilogy did, with the middle installment somehow the most complex and interesting of the three! Rogue One is still the best of the new pictures in terms of creating a palpable, lived-in universe, though! Few of the worlds seen in the other ones, including the endless, boring desert planets, feel like real places in which societies might have developed!
With its (too) many cute creatures and pointless new cute robot, its slavish devotion to ironing out complexity, and its desperate, machine-tooled, get-the-band-back-together mentality, this new picture has clearly been Disneyfied to within an inch of its life, and despite a welcome appearance from Richard E. Grant of How To Get Ahead in Advertising, I can’t bring myself to award The Rise of Skywalker more than one and a half collapsing outfits!

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