Reviews for The Rise of Skywalker have not been kind it has the second worst Rotten Tomatoes score in the franchise, behind only The Phantom Menace, but the harshest criticism of the film comes not from a critic, but someone in the Star Wars universe. Jake Cannavale, who played bounty hunter Toro Calican in a recent episode of the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, shared his thoughts on Episode IX on Instagram, and let’s just say his invitation to the Lucasfilm Christmas Life Day? party has been rescinded.
“ Rise of Skywalker was hands down the worst Star Wars movie. An absolute f*cking failure. Went to see it last night and I woke up still mad. Like… it rendered the entire new trilogy completely useless,” Cannavale wrote. “There were more plot holes than there was plot. The amount of ‘by the ways’ was absolutely infuriating. Rise of Skywalker btw dumbass title was worse than Phantom Menace AND Last Jedi combined. Fight me.”
Get him, Babu Frik! When asked if he’d be mad if he was in the film, Cannavale replied:
“Honestly, I think I’d be more mad. Obviously I can’t speak on behalf of the cast. To some actors this is just a job and maybe they’re just happy to be working. To which I say more power to them. Also, maybe they f*cking loved the new Star Wars! In which case that’s f*cking dope that they got to work on something they truly got to enjoy… I personally would feel pretty depressed if I was in the new Star Wars movie as a main character I mean. If I was a dude wearing an alien puppet or whatever I’d be f*cking stoked…”
It’s like I always say, nothing like a Mon Calamari mask to hide your shame.
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...