Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Is A Lot Like A Video Game

Illustration for article titled Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Is A Lot Like A Video Game

The new Star Wars movie is full of fetch quests and clearly went through some sort of development hell. Sounds a lot like a video game! On this SPOILER-FILLED bonus episode of Kotaku Splitscreen, we discuss.


Seriously, don’t listen or read any further until you’ve seen Rise of Skywalker!

In this two-hour bonus episode, we go through all of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, plot point by plot point, and talk about what we liked and didn’t like. Mostly the latter.

Look, this movie was a mess. Even if you liked it, it’s hard to deny how many plot points made no sense and how whiplash-inducing the pacing could be. A look back at old Reddit leaks reveal that some key plot points were cut out of the movie—like the revelation that Lando had a daughter who was kidnapped by the First Order—and it’s clear that production was full of problems.

Here are some broad thoughts from me, Maddy, and Kirk:

Maddy Myers: My bird’s eye view of this movie is that it is an extremely online movie, in the sense that it feels like a reaction to not only The Last Jedi but specifically all of the internet reactions and discourse about The Last Jedi. And if you didn’t know about those conversations, you would probably have a pretty different reaction to this movie. You might even feel better about it. You might feel a little confused about what I see as some plot points that are introduced and not resolved in the film. It moves really quickly—we can talk about that later—but what’s really surprising to me about this movie was how online it felt when it came to reacting to fans and trying to give fans what they say they wanted. At least for me, it wasn’t really what I wanted. But that was really strange to see. It was very 2019 in that way. That’s my take.

Jason Schreier: I think The Rise of Skywalker is the video game of Star Wars movies, and I’m not saying that just in the sense that it was all a bunch of fetch quests, but also, in the sense that it clearly had such a disrupted mess of a production that the story wound up making no sense. You can look at it and see all the disparate pieces of plot threads that were once there and removed for some reason or another, because they had so many production troubles. And in that sense, it’s just like a video game. It’s the vanilla Destiny of movies.

Kirk Hamilton: I share that impression somewhat. I was really frustrated by this movie; I thought it was a huge mess. And walking out of the theater, thinking wow, that was not good. I think my two big takeaways are: it was actually kind of surprising to feel that way about a major tentpole movie, only because I feel like recently big tentpole movies have generally been at least good. And not actively bad. So it’s a surprising, and actually frankly, a little bit exciting feeling, to be like oh wow, this thing sucked. It was interesting how bad it was, and then Jason, like you said—I think it’s left me and a lot of people just guessing a lot at the way that it was made, and all these production questions. Which I find unsatisfying in a lot of ways, only because it’s hard to answer a lot of those questions, and because it’s such an unsatisfying movie, I think. I found it very unsatisfying, I find myself asking all these questions about how it was made, and what happened in the script, and what was all this stuff... I liken it to the feeling you get from games that were rebooted a bunch of times and they were technically in development for seven years but they really threw it together at the last minute.


For much more, listen to the entire episode. As always, you can subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts and Google Play to get every episode as it happens. Leave us a review if you like what you hear, and reach us at with any and all questions, requests, and suggestions.


O's, Poes and Bohs

The Destiny comparison is on-point. There are obvious artifacts of the plot lines that had been planned and not included and the movie spins its wheels with fetch quests until something really happens.

The movie was trash. Every day since I’ve seen it I think of a new plothole or a new problem with it. Compare to TLJ, which aged like a fine wine. Now there was a Star Wars movie with something to say. I think of a Rian Johnson quote which is really quite prescient.

When people ask me, ‘Don’t you think people are going to get sick of ‘Star Wars’ movies?’ to me that question indicates that they’re thinking of ‘Star Wars’ movies as a museum exhibit that is wheeled out once a year so you can say, ‘Oh, I loved that thing. Oh, I remember that thing!’ And yes, if ‘Star Wars’ is that, people are going to get sick of it really quickly.

“But if ‘Star Wars’ are great new movies that are exciting and fresh, and that challenge you and surprise you and make you feel things and engage you the way that those original movies did — but always taking you to new places, both in the galaxy and emotionally — that’s never going to get old. That’s what it’s all about.”