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I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve just finished LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Not the whole thing, you understand. I’ve still got an open galaxy filled with bricks, characters, and other collectibles to hunt. But I’ve completed my work on the main story, having started with The Phantom Menace and ending on The Rise Of Skywalker. A sci-fi sandwich of wildly fluctuating quality where the bread on either end is made out of shit.
I’ve written before about how the LEGO games were actually able to make the dreaded prequel trilogy genuinely enjoyable. The original LEGO Star Wars had a wonderful sense of humour that embraced the inherent silliness of the prequels. It moved along at an excellent pace, whizzing past all the bollocks about trade disputes and Midichlorians in order to focus on the fun stuff: Darth Maul! General Grievous! Podracing.
The same is more or less true of the prequels in The Skywalker Saga. While the levels themselves are nowhere as imaginative or fun (I’m left with the distinct feeling the prequels weren’t a priority), that inimitable LEGO charm still works to ensure that this brick-based retelling of one of the most-hated trilogies of all time is frequently funny and able to amplify the parts of those movies that did work. It also leans heavily into the many, many prequels memes that have sprung up since the first LEGO Star Wars game, and is all the better for doing so.
So as I barreled through the original trilogy and the first two thirds of the sequel trilogy (all excellent) I was excited to see how developer Traveller’s Tales had handled The Rise Of Skywalker, the denouement of the entire saga.
I think it’s fair to say that out of all the Star Wars movies, The Rise Of The Skywalker is the one that’s near-universally hated. The prequels have their apologists, and there are plenty of people - myself included - willing to stand up and say The Last Jedi is a masterpiece. But The Rise Of Skywalker is a stain of a movie that attempted to appease the vocal minority and wrap up a 40-year story in a way that would keep everyone happy. It went down like a fart in a Sarlacc pit. Can a LEGO retelling soften its rough edges? Apparently not.
As far as the LEGO games are concerned, the prequels obviously have nostalgia on their side, but let’s not put it all down to that. Episodes I - III work so well in LEGO form because, despite their flaws, there was still a coherent story in there: the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker. Traveller’s Tales had something to work with, carefully extracting the essence of the prequels, with plenty of jokes along the way, to fashion it into something that might actually trick you into thinking Attack Of The Clones was halfway decent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s literal magic.
The Rise Of Skywalker has no essence to extract. It’s a cowardly, vapid piece of filmmaking that ended the decades-long Skywalker story with an almighty shrug. It has no idea what it is, and that’s such a problem that even a LEGO retelling can’t save it, because there are genuinely no redeeming moments in it for Traveller’s Tales to focus on.
Instead, the final episode of the game (assuming you’ve played through in chronological order) is a series of entirely disconnected and utterly meaningless moments, just like the movie it’s based on. You move, bleary eyed, from empty lightsaber duels to joyless space battles that engender about as much emotion as a trip to the dentist’s.
Try as it might, and it absolutely does try, even LEGO can’t build something decent out of The Rise Of Skywalker. Doesn't that say it all?
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