Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review – More Like The Rise of Retcons.

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The reactions to Disney’s new Star Wars trilogy have been… interesting to say the least.
It constantly feels like the extreme fans are at one another’s throats with each subsequent movie.
Personally, I enjoyed the first two films in this new trilogy.
I still love The Force Awakens, with it being my third favourite movie in the saga, next to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
As for The Last Jedi, I thought it was a great film when I first watched it but, upon multiple rewatches, it became clear that it did have a lot of issues.
Even so, I enjoy the film but, sadly, the same cannot be said for The Rise of Skywalker, once again directed by J.J Abrams.
The funny thing is that this review was initially supposed to be positive but I quickly realised that I was writing down more negatives than positives about the film so it did not constitute being called a good film.
I would say that The Rise of Skywalker is the most flawed installment in this new trilogy.
Right from the start, I knew we were in trouble because the opening crawl details things that we should have been shown rather than told.
Following this, the first act is a complete mess that feels completely lacking in soul.
I found it incredibly difficult to care as the central characters of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) jumped from planet to planet, searching for a MacGuffin.
Even worse, when Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is sent by a somehow alive Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) to kill Rey it causes the movie to deliver a whole bunch of retcons to try and undo all of the twists in The Last Jedi that many vocal fans had issue with.
The most evident of these is Palpatine himself.
With Snoke gone, they just shoehorned in Palpatine with absolutely no setup.

Palpatine basically serves as the replacement big bad guy after Snoke and it is blatantly obvious that his return was not planned.

And that is my big problem with this new trilogy.
Disney clearly had absolutely no plan when making these films and it creates a story that just doesn’t connect into a cohesive whole.
Look at the prequels.
Those films may be worse than these ones but George Lucas did have a plan on where the story would go.
Granted, he did not do a good job at adapting this plan but he still had one.
However, I will not say that The Rise of Skywalker is awful.
What saves the film from that is that it does get better after the first act and this is in no small part to the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren.
Kylo Ren is the best character in this trilogy and Adam Driver does an amazing job as him.
Although, I personally did not care for where their connection went at the end because it seemed kind of pointless.
Another positive is Princess Leia, with this film serving as a fitting goodbye to Carrie Fisher who tragically passed away.
She is put into the film using archived footage and it feels very respectful.

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Carrie Fisher got a meaningful sendoff in this film.

What does not feel respectful is the treatment of characters like Finn and Rose.
Finn got dealt a bad hand after The Force Awakens where his arc was repeated in The Last Jedi and is virtually nonexistent here but it is Rose’s actor Kelly Marie Tran who I feel the most sorry for.
She got a big role in the The Last Jedi but was not well received and got so much hate, some of it racially motivated, that it forced her off social media, and now she is pushed into a role as a side character in this film.
You could remove Rose from The Rise of Skywalker entirely and nothing would change.
Another jarring thing is the spy subplot in this film, which was completely pointless and felt like it was created to adapt to changes made in The Last Jedi, just like everything else.
Aside from Kylo Ren, his connection with Rey and the treatment of Leia, there are only a few other things I can say I liked about this movie.
One is the action, which is fun as always but with no standout moment, and some of the jokes that did land.

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There was one joke between C3PO and R2D2 that had me burst out into laughter.

Other than this, though, The Rise of Skywalker is a mess that does not flow well with the other two films in this trilogy.
If only those running the whole thing like Kathleen Kennedy had put their foot down and tried to put together a plan for creating a cohesive story.
At the very least this should have been done after The Force Awakens. 
In conclusion, I will say I consider The Force Awakens to be a great film, The Last Jedi to be a good film with a lot of problems, and The Rise of Skywalker to be a mess with only a few redeeming qualities, all coming together to create a story that just does not flow.
On the bright side, at least this new trilogy is not as bad as the prequels.

Kingdom Hearts 3 Review: Prepare to be Confused.

3 and a half stars
I fondly remember the first time I came across Kingdom Hearts.
I was nine years old and had gone over to a friend’s house, where he was playing the first section of the game on the Destiny Islands.
The game looked like a lot of fun to me and I looked at the cover to see what it was called and was shocked to see Donald and Goofy on it.
My friend explained to me that the game was a mix between Disney Properties and Final Fantasy, which intrigued me further, so I bought the game at the first opportunity.

Kingdom Hearts cover
My first time seeing the Kingdom Hearts cover left me very confused about why Donald and Goofy were on it.

Needless to say, I absolutely loved the first game and, after finishing it, quickly moved on to play the sequel Kingdom Hearts 2, unaware there had been an installment in between, Chain of Memories.
Despite my confusion about this, I loved Kingdom Hearts 2 even more than the first one and eagerly awaited Kingdom Hearts 3.
Over a decade later, the game has finally been released, and, boy, is it confusing.
This is because, in between Kingdom Hearts 2 and 3, there have been numerous spin off games that tie into the series.
I managed to play most of these games because of the remixes that were released and I looked up the rest of the story for the games I did not play.
Despite this, I was still incredibly confused by Kingdom Hearts 3‘s story to say the least.
What was once a simple story about light vs darkness has devolved over the years into a convoluted mess involving time travel, clones, people trapped in other’s hearts, multiple versions of the same people, and numerous story points that need to be seen to be believed.
This, unfortunately, makes the story of Kingdom Hearts 3 quite a slog to sit through, and the game itself is only saved by likeable characters, the worlds you visit, and strong gameplay.
The characters and their relationships were one of the few things that kept me invested in the story.
Had it not been for the likes of Sora, Donald, Goofy, Riku, Mickey, Axel, Aqua, and others, I would have completely zoned out.

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The characters are what keep the overly convoluted story in Kingdom Hearts 3 from falling apart.

Although, that said, Kairi continues to be the useless Princess Peach of this franchise.
As for the villains, I actually liked how a lot of them were handled during the final stretch of the game.
I especially liked Master Xehanort’s motivations and how his story concluded.
Then there are the gameplay and worlds, which are by far the highlights of the game and expands on the previous Kingdom Hearts games in every single way.
Whereas previous worlds felt confined and somewhat lifeless, the worlds of Kingdom Hearts 3 have a massive scope and feel alive.
The beauty of these worlds is also highlighted by the excellent upgrade in animation.
Not to mention the nostalgia of visiting these various worlds.
Some of the worlds like Toy Story and Monsters Inc. are a treasure to visit.
Sadly, some of the worlds like Pirates of the Caribbean  and The Final World are a chore to play through, but the other great worlds more than make up for them.
Then there is the gameplay accompanying these worlds, which leads to extremely fun combat scenarios.
Utilizing different Keyblades and trying out various Disney ride themed attacks is very enjoyable.
The bosses are also incredibly fun to fight and very inventive, with many forcing you to use different tactics to beat them.
I would say though that the game is a bit too easy until the end.
I was looking for a real challenge when playing and I did not get this until arriving at the Keyblade Graveyard.

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While most of the game is very easy, the final series of bosses are much more difficult, especially the final forms of Master Xehanort.

Still, despite how easy most of the game is, it is still really fun to play.
Again, it is the story and how convoluted it has become that drags down this game.
The story is full of plot holes, unnatural dialogue and enough deus ex machinas to make a drinking game out of it. 
Kingdom Hearts 3 is a fun game but good luck trying to understand what is going on.