'The Rise of Skywalker' banks big despite fan and critical lashing

The newest of the Disney produced Star Wars films, "The Rise of Skywalker" receives critical mauling, leaves fans upset but still wins big at the international box-office

The Rise of Skywalker, the latest offering in the Disney Star War franchise directed by J.J Abrams, was released on 20 December 2019 to middling reviews from professional critics and less-than-positive reactions from hard-core fans. Disney, which avoided test-screenings for this film despite being commonplace for the studio, hopes the film has 'legs' at the box-office and ends up a huge commercial success.

The film's current gross stands at $373.3 million with a 57% critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, receiving lukewarm to negative reviews from the online critics. However, it is performing better at the box office than its predecessor "The Last Jedi" during its run in theatres in 2017.

Thumbs-down from fans and critics

Star Wars: Episode IX
A poster of Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. Star Wars

Critics and fans alike are pointing to the lackluster plot and meandering story mixed with a healthy dose of unsubtle fan-pleasing moments as the recipe for an underwhelming experience.

Fans' worst fears based on online leaks and chatter, talk of re-shoots in October and November and course-correcting from some of the controversial creative decisions of "The Last Jedi" all culminated on the screen with a film that is trying to tell its story while erasing parts of its past that doesn't jive with its current creative direction, resulting in a mess trying too hard to score brownie points with its fans.

Fan-service extravaganza with no soul

The creators' herculean efforts at disengaging from the ill-received story, character and plot decisions of "The Last Jedi" show-through with the generic writing of the movie failing to engage the audience into the new story which has video-game level plotting, a gloried fetch-quest for the main characters to complete arbitrarily.

Actor Ian McDiarmid returns as dark lord Palpatine, a fan-favorite from the other film playing a vital role in an unexpected manner leaving fans confounded at the studio's desperate attempts at patronizing an alienated fan-base. The desperate attempts at winning the fans back over don't end with Palpatine, many of the scenes and moments are tailored at eliciting nostalgia from the audience as it tries to act as palette cleanser despite being the last of a trilogy.

'Least favorite of all nine Star Wars movies'

"This is my least favorite of all the nine Star Wars movies, prequels included", says Jeremy Jahns, a Youtuber movie reviewer and a life-long Star Wars fan in his video review of the film. Director J.J Abrams, who breathed life into the franchise with 2015's "The Force Awakens," has made a movie that tries to tug at the heartstrings of the audience without establishing the connection required to do so, resulting in a competently made big-budget space fantasy movie without any of the soul and charm that made the franchise endearing in the first place.