The Stack Up: ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’

How does the novel stack up to the film?

PATRICK ULLMER | Photo Courtesy
The film and book both leave much to be desired.

No this is not a dream; you are in the right place. I usually cover a film based on a work of literature, but now I decided to shake things up and review the novel based on the movie.

What better project to start than the “epic” finale of Star Wars?

The film

“The Last Jedi” was an example of what happens when you give a bull ownership of the china shop. Then comes this forced final entry, which I would call cheap and lazy if the budget were not 275 million dollars. So it’s just lazy. I would also call it bereft of creativity, but considering Palpatine could still propagate, okay…sure.

This trilogy was made without an outline for where the story would go (like pouring concrete in a foundation without laying the rebar). Each trilogy before was carefully constructed in story. The original trilogy was “The Hero’s Journey” by Joseph Campbell, the prequels were a Shakespearean tragedy. This trilogy is…eh?

This plot can be summarized as good guys (who don’t get along well) battling bad guys (who also don’t get along well) across space in another “epic” showdown that happens in every prior film except the last one.

All the characters aside from the God-tier Rey, are just window dressing, contributing nothing but hanging around. I am still sad that they did nothing with Finn or Poe in the broad scheme.

What Disney did to the villainous Hux is unforgivable, as he went from being Hitler in “Force Awakens” to Peter Sellers in “The Rise of Skywalker” (still more character development than Rey though).

The music and cinematography were great. As much as I dislike director JJ Abram’s work, he can make a turd look polished and shiny, albeit only by lens flares. The set design and effects are beautiful to look at, but the story is what matters most.

A final plus would be the fact that when I next say the prequels were much better than given credit for, more people will agree. However, if you were one of the many who liked this movie, then I honorably commend you.

It is within your enthusiasm that this universe will be saved as the force lives in you now (and your last name is Skywalker if you want it to be). Bring balance to the force, don’t try to force balance like this movie did.

The book

Written by Rae Carson and marketed as “expanded,” it is only a fraction of the width of all the other Star Wars novelizations and has only one or two new scenes not in the movie.

One scene features Kylo Ren speaking with a large spider who tells him where to find Palpatine (obviously not negating both prior trilogies), and the other adds more dialog between Poe and Kerri Russel’s character- though it amounts to nothing.

The writing feels rushed and choppy at times; “Leia gave her a harsh look that made her feel like the worst liar caught lying.” Wow.

What I found funny was a scene at the beginning where Kylo Ren sees a tank full of Snoke clones and gets indignant that his master never told him this. I chuckled because if someone were a clone why would they tell anyone that? All I could imagine was the scary-looking Snoke saying, “There was a time…I was pickled. That is who I am.”

In an example of plot exposition dumping, the revelation that Palpatine is alive is expanded. “Somehow…Palpatine has returned.” Fantastic explanation to which the reactions are, “Do we believe it?“ “We believe it.” Again, fantastic. (Man, do I miss George Lucas’ intelligent prose.)

The dull and under-choreographed lightsaber duel between Kylo Ren and Rey is more boring to read than to see. Ren murders more people, even decapitating a person before pounding its head on a table like a gavel when calling a meeting to order (Reylo fan upon seeing this: “I hope the mass murderer gets with Rey. They make such a cute couple. I ship them so much.”).

I would say the Disney Star Wars trilogy feels like bad fanfiction, but considering fanfiction is made by fans of the source material, nevermind.

The victor

The book had some neat phraseology so I prefer it over the film.

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