My “The Rise Of Skywalker Review” may not be what you are expect from a movie review, and that’s mainly because it seems like everyone is saying that the movie NEEDS to be amazing or else it’ll be a colossal failure. If you look at the Rotten Tomatoes score, you’ll see that the film is rated 51% in the eyes of critics and 86% for fans. In comparison, The Last Jedi’ is rated 90% by critics and 42% by fans. So what does this all mean? Is The Rise Of Skywalker a good end to the series or not? Well, for me it was acceptable, but the ultimate decision is up to you.
To be honest, the biggest question I had coming out of The Rise Of Skywalker was, “What would’ve happened if JJ Abrams had been allowed to create the second film?” While The Force Awakens was a rehash of A New Hope, it did have enough to make it feel fun and fresh. However, The Last Jedi (regardless of whether you loved it or hated it) dared to be bold and went off in numerous new directions. It led to a big division between fans and critics, and that’s why I think The Rise Of Skywalker is going to be a movie you just need to watch for yourself. If you’re expecting a new approach to storytelling, you likely won’t get what you want. In contrast, if you’re hoping for a formulaic Star Wars plot and getting big fun moments, this does have that.
WARNING: Major Spoilers Ahead!
I’ll give major credit where it’s deserved. The Rise Of Skywalker has arguably the best set of opening sequences in the Star Wars franchise. The opening marquee informs us that Emperor Palpatine is alive and Kylo Ren is attempting to kill him. Obviously that doesn’t happen, but Palpatine does get inside his head enough to start off the events of what is to come, which was entertaining to watch.
Palpatine has a cult and he has been working behind the scenes in order to bring the “Final Order” to life, which is bad for our Resistance.
Speaking of which, the Resistance is back up and running, and is ready to bring the fight to the First Order and end the conflict once and for all. There are more soldiers in direct contrast to the end of The Last Jedi, where they could fit the entire Resistance in one ship.
While Finn, Poe and their allies have been trying to figure out what’s going on, Leia (brought to life through unused footage and CGI effects) has been training Rey, who can feel that something bad is coming. Sure enough, we find out that Kylo is trying to convert her to the Dark Side so they can overthrow Sidious and take the “Throne of the Sith” for themselves.
Props to both Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley. They honestly gave their best performances in The Rise Of Skywalker, and their scenes together are mesmerizing throughout. Say what you will about their characters and their flaws, but they really did bring a lot to the fold here.
That’s not to say that others didn’t come to play too. Poe and Finn get some true shining moments here, and by the end they prove why they were big players in the movie. I especially liked how they continued Poe’s rise to leadership of the Resistance, and how he struggled to understand what leadership truly means. Oscar Isaac had some good scenes and I’m glad they let him shine a lot more than they did in Last Jedi, same for John Boyega.
And for all of you that were hoping that there would be a lot of big fan-making moments, you got those in spades. From the return of Palpatine, to the epic use of Lando in the film (Billy Dee Williams still has it!), to a literal cavalcade of past Jedi who make their presence known in the most epic of ways (my jaw was on the floor for this one), it was great. Plus, as we all know, this was the final movie with Carrie Fisher in it, and they delivered a beautiful eulogy that made many fans teary-eyed, as well as giving Chewbacca a scene I don’t think anyone would be dry-eyed watching.
As for big set pieces (which is a JJ Abrams special), there was a LOT to love. Expect to see an epic “lightspeed jumping” scene, fun fights with big choreography, and much more. JJ came to shock and awe and he hit much more than he missed, so we should be grateful for that.
Now, there were some twists in this tale, and some you likely saw coming, while others were played out in the best way possible. Rey is the granddaughter of Palpatine (which I KNOW was a rumor back in Force Awakens but I couldn’t believe it). Kylo did get back to the Light Side (with the help of family) and helped save the day multiple times. There were a few deaths that did shock, including a certain “good luck charm” if you know the BTS story with Abrams. So there is some good stuff to watch here.
…as much as I liked it, I would be remiss if my The Rise Of Skywalker Review didn’t talk about the various plot points and issues that honestly do weigh down the movie a bit. Not as badly as The Last Jedi (in my opinion), but it was enough.
I’ll give you the best examples first. In the movie, there is a “Force Technique” that is used multiple times and it saves the lives of characters multiple times. Yet…this technique was never mentioned before…ever. Not to mention, it was used by Rey and Kylo…who likely would not have been taught this technique by their mentors. Even if you were to say that Leia taught this technique to Rey (which is a stretch), how would Kylo have used it? Exactly. It was very much a “Deus Ex Machina,” and it showed.
Speaking of which, there were truly TONS of those moments. And while we are meant to just “go with it,” it honestly makes no sense given the context we’ve been given. Emperor Palpatine for example goes from a “man and machine” clone, to being “reborn” because he…drained the life/Force out of Kylo and Rey? Because…they share a bond that hasn’t been done in thousands of years? Really?
Or at the end, a fleet of ships comes to the Resistance’s aid…because NOW they think there is a chance to win? Really? Also, the “mental connection” between Rey and Kylo returns from TLJ (which is fine) but all of a sudden they can send each other things through this “telepathy” and even fight each other? Even Kylo in one scene shrugs at another character as they wonder how it happened, basically telling the audience to just “go with it”…but we can’t! We need to know!
And there are more, trust me (how did they make the dagger based on the Death Star dimensions), but I’ll skip over them so we can get to the other big questions.
Such as…was Palpatine really necessary? You’ll need to decide that on your own, but it felt like Abrams was trying to end it like the original trilogy. Since The Last Jedi killed Snoke, and Kylo was supposed to be redeemed, they needed someone back, and that’s Palpatine. While I do give credit for basically dipping into the original Star Wars Extended Universe books (I don’t care that they’re not-canon now!), in a way the results make Palpatine look weak, and it rewrites Star Wars history in several ways that I won’t go into.
Finally, and arguably most importantly…there’s The Last Jedi. That movie set up a lot of things, and The Rise Of Skywalker…basically ignored them. For example, remember Rose Tran? The character that a lot of people loved, and a lot of people tried to shame because of her looks and such? Any all plot with her (including her relationship with Finn) was all but dropped. She had minimal lines, was confined to certain scenes, and wasn’t grown in any way, and I feel that’s sad. As noted before, the Resistance went from crushed by TLJ to totally fine and back up and running for this movie. That was noticeable, VERY noticeable.
Now, to get back up on the plus side, I LOVED how they showcased the friendships of Finn, Rey and Poe here, including a lovely bickering sequence at the beginning of the film. That was something that was missing from The Last Jedi, so I’m glad they at least made it up here.
As for the ending, it did feel rushed a bit, and it did leave a few big plot threads hanging (did Finn and Rey get together or not?!?!!?), but it did do a full circle moment that some fans will love, while others will roll their eyes at. Again, it’s up to how you feel about it.
So as we reach the end of this The Rise Of Skywalker Review, I’m sure I’ve left you thinking, “Man, this guy really did hate this film.” No, I honestly did like it. Are there plot holes? Heck yeah. Were there things they could’ve done better? OH YEAH! Did some characters get burned because of the retcon/rewipe of the lore and such? You betcha. But, as a fan of Star Wars movies, I can’t deny that The Rise Of Skywalker did make me smile more times than not. Sure, not everything hit, but a lot of things did.
The new trilogy, much like the prequels (which I loved), is going to be something that every generation critiques differently. “Where they really necessary?”, “Did they truly build upon the legacy of Star Wars?”, “Did the change of directors ruin everything?”, and the questions go on and on. But as recent years have taught me as a moviegoer, sometimes you just have to make your own thoughts and appreciate them.
If you like the Rise of Skywalker like I did, great! If you loved it and think it’s the best Star Wars movie (which I’ve heard a lot of people say), great! If you didn’t like it, that’s okay! It’s your opinion, it’s your viewing experience and your emotions that you’re feeling, not anyone else’s.
In the end, The Rise Of Skywalker may not have been the ending we needed, or deserved, but it’s the one we got, and for what it is, it’s good. Not the best, not worst, but it’s good, and sometimes a movie is only just that…good. And that’s okay too.