Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the conclusive ninth episode in the Star Wars Skywalker Saga. Rise of Skywalker is directed by J.J Abrams (Director of the seventh film) and has a returning cast of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and more. Star Wars legends also return to reprise their roles such as Carrie Fisher as Leia, Billy Dee Williams as Lando, and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.

Rise of Skywalker carries a trivial situation on its shoulders. Rian Johnson, director of the eighth movie, took the trilogy in a completely different direction than many were expecting. The Last Jedi, episode eight, was successful from critics but was bombed by fans and today is one of the most disliked films from fans. Rise of Skywalker had a hefty task, it had to conclude the entire saga whilst cleaning up the mistakes apparently created from The Last Jedi. Objectively, this is perhaps one of the most difficult films to make in recent memory, even more so than Endgame. Rise of Skywalker had a recipe for disaster, but could they turn it around and make a shockingly great film? The answer is complicated.

Story

Rise of Skywalker begins with a mysterious, sinister voice being broadcast across the galaxy. Kylo Ren searches for the man behind the voice and makes a shocking discovery, the late Emporer Palpatine is alive and in hiding on the sith planet Exegol.  Palpatine reveals he intends on taking over the galaxy with a new Stardestroyer Fleet called the Final Order and that Kylo must search out Rey and either kill her or turn her to the dark side. In another place, Rey, the last Jedi, is training with instruction from Leia on the planet where the Resistance is based. The Resistance is still seeking intelligence and is fighting the First Order.

Rise of Skywalker takes advantage of the open-ending of Last Jedi using creative liberties to make an interesting premise, and on that front, the movie succeeds. Palpatine returning to take over the galaxy once again, while contrived, brings a lot of opportunity for the film. The film takes the most interesting attributes of the previous films and attempts to conclude them, such as Kylo and Rey’s relationship. It also chooses to either ignore or belittle many things the previous film set up, such as Finn and Rose’s relationship and Snoke’s identity.

Rise of Skywalker is several films at once, it is a conclusion to the saga, a MacGuffin film, and an expositionary film. It has to set-up many different plot points to be concluded in the last act of the film. The MacGuffin aspect of the film covers the first two-thirds of the movie, as the characters go on a quest to find different objects to progress the plot forward. In many ways, this combination of film aspects can be overwhelming to the audience, especially since this film is incredibly fast-paced.

Characters

The film brings back all the essential characters of previous films and even some surprise appearances. Characters from the original trilogy make appearances throughout the film, such as Carrie Fisher’s Leia and Billy Dee William’s Lando. Some characters get large spotlights while others get pushed to the sidelines. Characters such as Finn and Rose get less screen time and character development while characters such as Rey and Kylo experience major development. It’s understandable that each character can’t get special screen time to expand their characters, but it is disappointing to see some characters with wasted potential.

Visuals

As expected, Star Wars manages to use modern CGI effects while capturing nostalgic visuals of older movies. It mixes the over-the-top, old-fashioned alien designs with modern visual effects to capture the magic that Star Wars is known and loved for. Overall, the visuals are stellar.

Final Act

The final act of the film is one of the most important, as it is the conclusion of the entire saga. Does it live up to a culminated 40 years of Star Wars? Not really. The final act attempts to recapture the exciting “Portal” scene from Avengers: Endgame and this version of it doesn’t nearly capture the emotional heights of Endgame. The final act lacks excitement and epic battles, the only lightsaber battle in the final act lasts less than 30 seconds. The more you watch this final act, the easier it is to realize the amount of missed potential. Without spoilers, the ending ultimately ends up being an anti-climatic attempt at a conclusion, with questionable narrative decisions and cheesy dialogue.

Conclusion

Rise of Skywalker makes good attempts and has good intentions, but the lack of planning for this trilogy is blatantly obvious. It has good moments but also has a handful of dumb and cheesy moments. With a lack of exciting and memorable action scenes and a lack of memorable scenes in general, it’s hard to say that this will be a movie that will age better with time. While the movie has good visuals and is a very fun and watchable movie, it’s hard to re-watch without seeing the amount of missed potential of this movie and it’s unfortunate misfires.

Score: 6/10