Critics Consensus

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Feels Perfunctory but Gets the Job Done

Plus, Cats is utterly baffling and Bombshell expands into wide release.

by | December 19, 2019 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a saga finale (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, starring Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver), a musical adaptation (Cats, starring Jennifer Hudson and James Corden), and a real-life scandal (Bombshell, starring Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman). What are the critics saying?

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) 51%

When you’re tasked with wrapping up a widely beloved film franchise that spans almost half a century and has inspired a uniquely passionate fanbase unrivaled by any other, you kind of have to accept the fact that you are likely not going to please everyone with the final result. In other words, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was almost guaranteed to be divisive, even with J.J. Abrams back in the director’s chair. The story here picks up some time after the events of The Last Jedi, as Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and the rest of the Resistance rally to take out the remnants of the First Order. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has been training in the ways of the Jedi, but finds that her fate is intertwined with that of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and the pair must figure out what that means for them and for the future of the galaxy. Critics say that The Rise of Skywalker is an earnest effort to tie up loose ends and close the book on the Skywalker Saga, but its plotting is somewhat basic and uninspired, and at times, it feels as though the film is going out of its way to undo any perceived wrongs committed by its predecessor. That said, it’s still a briskly paced adventure that smartly relies on the talents of Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, introduces some fun new characters, and offers enough fan service to tickle most fans’ nostalgia bones. There’s no guarantee that you’ll love this or hate this if you’re a Star Wars fan, but taken on its own merits, it’s still a reasonably entertaining spectacle.

Cats (2019) 20%

And speaking of reasonably entertaining spectacles, that’s pretty much been the one-line assessment of the stage musical Cats for almost 40 years (it’s one of the longest-running Broadway shows ever). Devoid of any real plot, the episodic story ostensibly centers on a tribe of cats who gather for a sacrificial ceremony, culminating in the show-stopping number “Memory.” This week’s new film adaptation of the musical, directed and co-written by Tom Hooper (The King’s SpeechLes Misérables), essentially follows the same template, with the likes of James Corden, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, Judi Dench, Rebel Wilson, and Ian McKellen filling various feline roles. The final result, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your specific proclivities), has become the latest film to inspire critics to whip out their most scathing zingers and metaphors. Thanks to a number of bizarre storytelling choices, a hodgepodge of cut-rate CGI, and a fatal lack of imagination, Cats is being savaged by the critics. This isn’t to say the film is completely without merit — some are quick to point to the catchy songs and impressive dancing as positives — but most everyone seems baffled by the film, more than anything else. In other words, enter at your own risk.


Bombshell (2019) 69%

Director Jay Roach is nothing if not experienced in relaying timely stories about hot-button topics to the general moviegoing public, having helmed films like Recount and Game Change, so this week’s Bombshell thus falls squarely within his wheelhouse. He’s also got a ridiculously talented roster of actors at his disposal for the film, from stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie to supporting characters played by the likes of John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, and Allison Janney, as well as a script by The Big Short screenwriter Charles Randolph, so it’s slightly disappointing that the film isn’t doing better with critics. The ripped-from-the-headlines story retraces the scandal that brought down Fox News chief Roger Ailes (Lithgow), who was accused by Megyn Kelly (Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Kidman), and other women (represented by Robbie, playing a composite character) of sexual harassment. Reviews have been quick to sing the praises of the three luminous women in the lead roles — all of whom have secured SAG Award nominations — and most critics have been satisfied by the film’s entertaining treatment of the subject matter, though some lament its reluctance to delve deeper into the culture at large surrounding the scandal. It’s not quite a scathing indictment, and those familiar with the story won’t necessarily learn anything new, but it’s presented entertainingly enough to warrant a watch. [Note: This film opened in limited release last week, but expands into wide release this week.]

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Invisible Life (A vida invisível de Eurídice Gusmão) (2019) , a period drama about two sisters in 1950s Brazil who are separated by their father and grow up trying to reconnect with each other, is at 89%.
  • The Europeans (1979) , a re-release of the 1979 Merchant Ivory adaptation of the eponymous Henry James novel about two expatriate siblings who return to 19th century New England in hopes of marrying into a wealthy family, is at 75%.
  • She's Missing (2019) , about a young woman tho sets out to discover what happened to her best friend, who disappeared in the desert, is at 56%.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

batman Walt Disney Pictures Podcast Grammys Super Bowl Comic Book best USA crime drama Tumblr IFC Films Food Network Ellie Kemper Stephen King GLAAD Sundance franchise Rocketman theme song Brie Larson venice BBC America cartoon ABC sports TruTV Women's History Month TCA Reality justice league psychological thriller Mary Tyler Moore award winner FX stop motion WarnerMedia comic Classic Film politics comedies 45 Amazon Prime natural history technology boxoffice docudrama foreign Apple medical drama Superheroes 20th Century Fox Sony Pictures hispanic President historical drama Masterpiece stand-up comedy cooking Paramount Network criterion miniseries Mary Poppins Returns Set visit anime National Geographic Quiz indie superhero Ovation 2020 CNN ghosts robots Animation aliens canceled TV shows Family football children's TV SDCC Fall TV cults Marathons Travel Channel Awards Tour spy thriller TCA Awards Rom-Com Box Office IFC dragons Interview TCA Winter 2020 OneApp TLC rotten movies we love space laika MTV Sci-Fi singing competition San Diego Comic-Con 21st Century Fox Calendar Crackle TIFF worst movies 2015 FXX Oscars USA Network Mary poppins mockumentary The Arrangement DC Comics science fiction The Purge screenings Chilling Adventures of Sabrina halloween First Look BBC dogs LGBT spain Summer Cannes Nat Geo classics BBC One Pet Sematary Baby Yoda screen actors guild Pride Month Teen adventure renewed TV shows kids Heroines Pop toronto E3 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt versus mission: impossible south america name the review travel Trophy Talk E! A24 diversity Logo period drama FOX Best and Worst spider-man strong female leads concert Turner Classic Movies Hallmark Christmas movies Disney Channel Winners Nickelodeon SundanceTV true crime APB spanish language Martial Arts disaster The Walking Dead Sundance Now news Fantasy Starz scary movies Watching Series Mindy Kaling satire zombies GIFs worst OWN Comedy social media child's play Cartoon Network romance finale Tubi Binge Guide blockbuster ABC Family Creative Arts Emmys anthology Ghostbusters SXSW Toys Star Trek vampires talk show 2018 Anna Paquin adaptation based on movie toy story Warner Bros. Holiday PBS crossover Hulu Sundance TV supernatural Drama reboot Country Paramount Infographic dark parents reviews witnail 2017 BET Awards Television Critics Association Acorn TV VH1 AMC Schedule Extras breaking bad Pirates DGA critics hist Bravo Comics on TV tv talk composers blaxploitation YouTube Red NBC Columbia Pictures game show television a nightmare on elm street Spectrum Originals movie NYCC TCA 2017 Mudbound documentary Star Wars Lifetime Christmas movies PaleyFest Disney Plus WGN richard e. Grant cops sitcom Vudu 2019 slashers Photos Emmy Nominations war spinoff Film facebook Western BAFTA Universal VOD Opinion canceled Marvel Studios Television Academy harry potter Action Trailer Hear Us Out Shudder dceu biography Emmys Film Festival cancelled political drama comiccon Tarantino Kids & Family 2016 Superheroe Epix CBS All Access Esquire animated GoT TBS comics Britbox Musicals fast and furious all-time Discovery Channel Showtime Disney streaming service Marvel Holidays Pixar dramedy YouTube Premium Christmas New York Comic Con FX on Hulu LGBTQ History DirecTV CBS ratings joker Spring TV The CW crime thriller Dark Horse Comics book YouTube quibi teaser nature movies Hallmark rotten emmy awards streaming Endgame Black History Month Horror dc festival Crunchyroll Year in Review obituary jamie lee curtis Turner Chernobyl Black Mirror sequels Elton John Character Guide Red Carpet Apple TV+ cars Peacock Music El Rey ITV Countdown First Reviews 72 Emmy Awards 24 frames latino cinemax remakes serial killer Rocky Valentine's Day Awards Adult Swim PlayStation indiana jones Lucasfilm romantic comedy TCM cancelled TV series psycho what to watch BET TV renewals transformers twilight Funimation free movies TNT DC streaming service The Witch Trivia casting die hard 007 elevated horror Amazon Studios game of thrones Comedy Central mutant christmas movies zero dark thirty MCU hollywood video Election Reality Competition documentaries films Academy Awards YA doctor who Netflix Christmas movies Cosplay Nominations See It Skip It Netflix X-Men asian-american Mystery Video Games RT21 independent Avengers Winter TV 71st Emmy Awards Freeform zombie Song of Ice and Fire crime Spike cancelled TV shows A&E discovery Sneak Peek Tomatazos Amazon Thanksgiving directors video on demand HBO Go unscripted cancelled television Polls and Games TV Land VICE sag awards CMT Certified Fresh sequel werewolf Premiere Dates Marvel Television Disney CW Seed HBO ESPN Pop TV Arrowverse Amazon Prime Video thriller series cats Biopics golden globes stoner HBO Max Syfy Rock TV Apple TV Plus Musical green book chucky RT History revenge American Society of Cinematographers Lionsgate Writers Guild of America 4/20 MSNBC Captain marvel Shondaland nbcuniversal Disney+ Disney Plus nfl Fox News police drama universal monsters DC Universe Lifetime scorecard binge festivals