Star Wars: the Rise of Skywalker is a film that wants to so badly appease to it’s very devoted audience while also conclude a saga spanning decades and multiple generations that it manages to do neither. It’s a mighty order for director JJ Abrams, a vetern in the movie industry, who tries his best to steer the shaky ship after the polarizing prior film, The Last Jedi.
The film starts out with a twist concerning the first order and reveals the true plot for this trilogy. It does well to add depth and explain why things occurred while also dismissing unfavorable story plots from Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. At this point the film had me, and the rest of the audience, laser focused in curiosity. This, however, didn’t last long because as the film continued I noticed it had a habit of using a comic relief to elicit an audience reaction (very reminiscent of the MCU films we see today). While comedy has always been in the Star Wars films, I feel in this case it’s forced into most scenes. Not only does it get cheap reactions, but it is also used as a tool to meld together plot conveniences to keep the film going, and unfortunately, a poor one at that.
Afterwards we move to the second act of the film where you notice the cast begins to phone in their lines. I can specifically remember a scene with Kylo and Rey’s “Force” communications where it looked like they had just woken up and remembered they had to get a scene done. There was no enthusiasm and it almost felt like two random people from the audience could reenact this scene to the same quality, if not better-I kid you not. Also, Oscar Isaac’s character, Poe Dameron, suddenly learns to Hyper skip across the galaxy even though this is never before seen on film, at least to my knowledge.
Now onto the final act of the film, the big conclusion of the Skywalker saga that started all the way back in 1977. Rey must face the overarching villain in a final duel with the resistance’s aid in order to repel the Empire. The scenes were epic with visual effects on full display, blasters and ships flying everywhere and there was no shortage of explosions. This is also when the much hyped Sith Troopers and Knights of Ren went into action. I won’t spoil what transpired but I will state that you may be disappointed by their involvement. Ultimately, this duel concludes this trilogy of films for better or for worse.
Going back to the original question: does Star Wars: the Rise of Skywalker manage to appease to its fan base…while also concluding a saga spanning decades? Well what I can say is that JJ Abrams was given a very tall order and sadly he could not complete it.
Rise of the Skywalker feels like a two part film morphed into one. It tries to set up a grand plot from a vague idea while also concluding that very same grand plot. Watching this film I could see how the failure of the last chronological film, The Last Jedi, really hindered this grand plot. Not only does Rise of Skywalker have to diverge from prior set up plots but it also has to insert a new one that would be more appeasing. This problem summarizes why this film is nearly impossible to create. He either had to continue Rian’s plot and further upset his enraged fanbase, including myself, or create this makeshift film in order to satisfy audiences which would hinder the overall story telling and flow.
It felt very rushed throughout my watching experience and there were multiple scenes where I facepalmed. They even add in some impossible video game feats like what you’d see in Star Wars the Force unleashed. Or they grab cheap audience reactions only to quickly retcon it and make us more upset. Rey, who is the protagonist that many feel is simply overpowered and debatably a Mary Sue, does not do much to disprove this notion. While it offers a questionable explanation for this I feel it is not justifiable for her feats through this franchise. And Kylo Ren, who is often the best part of this trilogy, simply falls flat this time around. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is simply not intimidating and while this may be the intention for this character, it just makes the movie more laughable than anything. He did not grow out of the shadow of Darth Vader, but rather he sunk further in and feels like a B tier version of his grandfather (think of Coca-Cola vs RC Cola). This is very disappointing for a talented actor who excels at displaying emotion, especially rage.
Ultimately JJ Abrams chose to tie a knot instead of leaving a door open to future plots. You feel no passion or ambition to learn what may happen next, instead you just kinda shrug your shoulders and just think this is fine. Not Great, not bad, just kinda meh it’s an ending. I feel no emotion for a saga I grew up with, admittedly that being with the prequels then watching the original trilogy later. I was all about Star Wars from eight years old to the age of twenty. For twelve years I was infatuated by this saga and franchise, but at the age of twenty-two I now find that Star Wars has become just another blockbuster I watch. I feel no hype or passion, I just watch it because it’s the big buzz around town.
So for these reasons I give Star Wars Rise of Skywalker a seven out of ten. A mediocre film that ties flimsy knot on the saga and leaves you hoping that Disney comes back with good structure and fleshed out idea on how to carry this franchise. I hope the Mandalorian on Disney Plus inspires them to put out better quality products and personally I hope they look further into the Old Republic. A fresh era that all fans have been wanting to see on screen. It’s Disney’s move to make something happen and I hope they create a product that not only appeases fans but is also of a high quality for today’s standards. We are in the 2020’s now, not the 70’s or early 2000’s. It’s time for Star Wars to evolve but maintain its roots, like The Mandolorian.
Thank you for reading