With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker coming to dvd, digital download, and Disney+ this week, I decided to finally post the review I wrote for the movie 3 months ago. I never posted it because I felt very frustrated by the movie, but alas… here are my feelings.
The time has finally come, the final instalment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy and (apparently) the last film in the Skywalker saga has been released and i am here to talk about it. I myself am a big fan of the Star Wars films, and have been thoroughly enjoying the sequel trilogy since it’s debut with The Force Awakens back in 2015. Written and directed by J.J Abrams TFA was able to bring old and new fans of the Star Wars movies together, enjoying the return of old characters and introductions of those who were new. That was then followed by the second movie: The Last Jedi written and directed by Rian Johnson. This movie was met with both extremely positive and very negative reviews back in 2017, pretty much dividing the Star Wars fandom by those who either loved or hated The Last Jedi. I myself was indifferent to The Last Jedi, and most certainly didn’t feel the extreme love or hate that others did. Though i was very excited to see what J.J Abrams would then do when he ultimately returned to write (alongside Chris Terrio) and direct the final film in this trilogy.
The Rise of Skywalker picks up about a year after the end of the last film. With Rey training with Leia, Finn and Poe flying with BB-8 to gain first order secrets, and Kylo Ren seeking out the rumoured now-alive Palpatine. Though as the movie begins to gain way, it feels as though all character and story development from the last film has been ignored. Ultimately sending the story downhill.
Rise Tico, played by the wonderful actress Kelly Marie Tran, has been almost completely pushed to the side lines. Almost never leaving the rebel base or saying more lines than i can count with one hand. She actually had a pretty major role in The Last Jedi – having saved as well as kissed one of the main characters (Finn), she also said a line that could pretty much encapsulate the entire franchise: “that’s how we’ll win. not fighting what we hate. saving what we love” Yet in this film she has a screen time of 1min 16 seconds, and her interactions with Finn (wherever they are) feel as though they are between co-workers, rather than romantic interests.
While I can admit that there are certain moments where i felt a sense of nostalgia and excitement as a Star Wars fan, i couldn’t help but immediately be caught off guard by them as well. As much as i loved having Billy Dee Williams back as Lando Calrissian and seeing him command the Millenium Falcon again — it felt forced. There was no real reason he was there, other than to please fans and make us feel nostalgic. But there was also no explanation as to how or why he was where he was. How had the resistance never come into contact with him before now? does he know about Han? We witness Leia training Rey, because as we know from TLJ, Luke is now one with the force. Although, if Leia is strong enough with the force to train Rey, why did she not train her son herself rather than send him off to Luke? And why did we not know more about Leia’s force abilities until now? Then, with the return of Palpatine, there is no explanation as to how he survived, or how such powerful force users such as Luke Skywalker (or even Kylo Ren for that matter) never sensed him until now. While it was cool, it would’ve been cooler and made more sense had it been introduced sooner or been established well and properly. This makes it quite obvious that there were no prior plans to have Palpatine return, and thus makes the entire trilogy feel like each writer/director was blindly moving the plot forwards with no clear idea of how it would ultimately end.
Instead of nicely concluding the saga, it felt as though Abrams and Chris Terrio (co-writer), tried to write the screenplay by piecing together all of the different fan theories and predictions they could find on the internet, resulting in a weird mish-mash of fan-service and retconning. While I have no problem with catering to fans now and then, it only works when the plot lines actually make sense and line up with one another. In this instance it felt like the writers wanted to please each different group of people watching. Their attempt to fix the divide that The Last Jedi made only resulted in many more upset and frustrated fans. I would much rather the plot make sense and be not what i wanted, instead of it be a weird mess full of plot holes and questions left unanswered.
All in all i found The Rise of Skywalker to bring me joy at parts but then completely take it away. Like giving a baby a piece of candy, but only letting them have one bite. Each time i thought it was getting better it ended up getting worse. Adam Driver as the interesting and complex Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is what ultimately saves this movie for me, playing one of the best Star Wars characters we’ve seen. Although this ending (and his to be specific) left me unsatisfied and frustrated, and as a Star Wars fan — i think it’s safe to say the original trilogy is the best and only trilogy.