The latest “Star Wars” movie (“The Rise of Skywalker”) has gotten mixed reviews. It’s not a great film but it’s not a bad one. If you study it, you can see what it did right and wrong.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop right here. If you have, the main thing the movie got right was foreshadowing Rey’s ability to heal using the Force. Then later Kylo uses the Force to heal Rey when she’s almost killed. The general rule is that you must foreshadow events before they occur so they feel logical and integral to the story.
That’s also how “Rise of Skywalker” fails, by not foreshadowing people ahead of time. In one city, Poe is leading everyone to look for something when he encounters a woman who helps Poe. Yet this appearance of this woman who first holds a gun to his head and then suddenly wants to help him feels forced and unnatural.
Then her sudden change from wanting to kill Poe to wanting to help him occurs too fast so the entire encounter feels like poor story structure to advance the plot.
This woman later gives Poe some sort of medallion so he can get into a ship. Yet she has little reason to do so and this feels like another plot convenience to help the story move along.
Finally during the final attack, this woman shows up again to help Poe. Yet her reappearance has no emotional meaning because we don’t know who she is or what she wants from the earlier time we saw her.
Compare this woman’s return to help Poe to the much superior version in the original “Star Wars” where Hans Solo has proven to be selfish and greedy where he abandons Luke just when the rebels need his help. So when Hans suddenly returns and saves Luke, that feels like an emotional change because Hans’s action proves he’s changed so he’s no longer selfish. Because Hans’s action shows he changed emotionally, and we got to see Hans acting selfishly throughout the story, his change at the end feels emotionally satisfying.
The same can’t be said for the woman who helps Poe. We barely get to know her and we have no idea about her history with Poe. So when she returns at the end, we still don’t care because there’s no emotional change simply because we never had time to get to know her in the first place.
As a general rule, stories should introduce all the main characters in the first half of the movie and then show these characters interacting in the second half of the movie. “The Rise of Skywalker” simply introduces characters whenever the main characters need help. As a result, we don’t get to know who these other characters are so they seem more like two-dimensional puppets who exist simply to advance the plot and nothing more.
Look at how the original “Star Wars” keeps the story focused on a minimal amount of settings. Then look at how “The Rise of Skywalker” (and the other two previous “Star Wars” movies) jump all over the place to different settings that are shown once and then are never seen again. By jumping all over the place, “The Rise of Skywalker” lacks a more coherent story that could keep an audience engaged.
“The Rise of Skywalker” isn’t a bad movie (like “Cats”) but it is a mediocre movie with major story flaws like introducing characters solely to help the heroes and then disappear again until they’re needed later. If “The Rise of Skywalker” were a spec script without the “Star Wars” name attached to it, would anyone have wanted to see this movie?