If I were to describe my feelings towards this movie with a facebook relationship status, it would be “it’s complicated”. Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is the final chapter in the Skywalker saga which started back in 1977. You all know the Star Wars history, George Lucas was the creator of it, sold it to Disney in 2012. Now with this sequel trilogy/Disney trilogy, The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars film project to not involve Lucas. The Rise of Skywalker was almost a no-win situation. The Last Jedi completely split the fan base, J.J. Abrams had an impossible task. The expectations for this film were astronomical, J.J. had to tie up the Skywalker saga, recourse the sequel trilogy, and win over a toxic fanbase. Does he accomplish all three of these things… No, not really, but sometimes he does. Again, it’s complicated. Here, let me explain.
*Note: This review will contain spoilers, as the movie has been out for a while, lots of people should have had a chance to see this movie by now. If you have not seen the movie yet, go watch it and come later.
The Rise of Skywalker opens with a bang. Right from the start, Kylo Ren finds out the Emperor is still alive, what his plan is, and that the Emperor has been the one in Kylo’s head messing with his thoughts. And from there on out, the movie moves at breakneck speed. I really enjoyed the first half of the movie. Sure, it had its problems with pace and story, but I loved being back together with the main characters. Rey, Poe, and Finn were all characters I fell in love with in The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi for whatever reason wanted to split these characters up and have them go on their journey the entire movie which I think was a mistake. I like The Last Jedi, it’s an expertly crafted film with beautiful cinematography and new creative ideas that we’ve never seen in a Star Wars movie before. However, it’s not a very good Star Wars movie. It missed the entire point of what made the original trilogy so timeless, it’s about overcoming adversary with your friends. The Last Jedi missed that point by splitting up our main characters in the entire film. J.J. wisely chose to put the three main characters together for the entire film. All the main core players were not wasted, except for one who I’ll get to later. This is maybe the best C-3PO has ever been, the group dynamic between Rey, Finn, and Poe was exactly what I wanted ever since I saw The Force Awakens. The beginning of the movie was fast, exciting and fun. It was exactly what it needed to be.
When the second half of the movie kicks, that’s when the skimmed over story beats of the first half of the movie start to show the weaknesses of the film. The movie is sloppy. Too many ideas were introduced, it felt like after The Last Jedi the panic button was hit, and all the ideas they were bouncing around got thrown onto the screen in a last-minute panic. Why is the Emperor in this movie, it’s never really explained. How is he alive you ask? The Force, I guess. The movie doesn’t really make sense after a point and builds to a pretty anti-climatic ending. This film would have benefited by picking one thing to focus on and telling a simple cohesive story. The force is used too often as a scapegoat. When the story is presented with a roadblock, the force is often used as the answer to get around the problem in front of them. By that being the case, Rey is extremely overpowered, which is not a surprise as I thought that was one of the biggest weaknesses of The Force Awakens. They do their best to explain by having her be the granddaughter of the Emperor, but in opinion, it’s just lazy writing. The concept of Rey being a Palpatine is interesting, but not explained enough for it again make any sense.
I think my biggest flaw with the film is how sidelined Kylo Ren is in this movie. He has some of the best scenes in the movie, like the one with Han Solo, which was the best scene of the film. But after it was all said and done, he’s not the true storyline of the film. I think the film should have dropped The Emperor story and focused on the connection Rey and Kylo has, and Rey’s consistence to turn him from the dark side. Kylo has a concluded story arc, but with the amount of time spent with him, it feels wasted. Leia is a big part of Kylo’s arc and because of the passing of Carrie Fisher, this probably hinders the story they wanted to tell with Kylo. Leia is in the film a lot more than I thought, but I don’t think reusing unused footage from The Force Awakens was the right way to handle her character. Her scenes felt so awkward and forced. It reminded me of drama class back in high school when we would practice our improve and I would get paired with a partner who didn’t know how to properly act. The actors in scenes with her seemed like they didn’t know what to do with the dialogue they were given, it felt completely unnatural.
Overall Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker is a fun exciting movie that when you think too hard about the film, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The pacing of the film makes it hard to focus on any one point of the story making for a sloppy finished product. I love these characters, from that standpoint I was pretty happy with what they did with them. The action and visuals are some of the best in the series. The new addition to the Star Wars universe are welcomed additions, Babu Frik being my favourite. I can see many Star Wars fans being really satisfied and loving this movie, but for me, it’s hard to overlook the messy story and overstuffed plot that at the end of the day ends in a bit of a whimper.