The end of the Skywalker saga is here. J.J. Abrams brings this 42-year journey to a close with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and just as with any finale, not everything will meet everyone’s expectations or desires for the end of this epic tale. I did enjoy this film as a whole, it was entertaining and fun, but it does also have its shortcomings.
The Rise of Skywalker is an attempt at fan-service by Abrams, I’m just going to say it, and for some he will succeed. He seemingly closely watched the negativity from Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, and attempted to right the wrongs to that minority with wanted from the trilogy and characters. Our heroes are just that — epic, faultless heroes with out-of-this-world abilities and larger-than-life storylines. This is a stark difference from what we saw in TLJ in which our main trio faltered and learned, their abilities earned and fought for.
The first hour of this film goes 100 miles per hour, and it’s hard to keep up if you’re looking for an authentic, complex story. Rey is blessed with extraordinary abilities to fit the narrative without much background on just how she could harness these abilities, we get an abrupt introduction to Kylo Ren and his Knights of Ren, and the re-introduction of Emperor Paplatine is almost anti-climactic. Some of the scenes are forced, shoved into the storyline where they fit so the tale can move forward from TLJ into Abrams’ version. Is it entertaining? Yes, it is. But if you’re someone who enjoys a cohesive story that weaves together and placing the puzzle pieces of a plot together, you may find yourself disappointed.
The plot is painfully predictable. Some of it I had nailed down from the previews alone, and all of those assumptions were all but confirmed within the first 45 minutes. It’s safe, with so much thrown into it that every fan is bound to enjoy at least something. Much like Abrams’ first run with Star Wars: The Force Awakens following Star Wars: A New Hope, he draws much of his storyboard from Star Wars: Return fo the Jedi, particularly the epic final battles. Again, another safe bet for those heading to the theater looking for nostalgia. And nostalgia he does deliver.
Another thing to note is the absence of Rose Tico. With no more than seven possible minutes (estimated) of screen time, it was disappointing to not see her playing a larger role. Some cameo appearances had more speaking lines and led pivotal scenes as she was shoved to nothing more than a background character. In addition to that, Keri Russell’s Zorii Bliss is completely unnecessary. Awkward and forced moments between her and Poe Dameron make it seem like her purpose is solely to derail the “FinnPoe” supporters in the fandom, and it comes at an odd time after star Oscar Isaac had come out in support of that particular “fan ship” becoming canon. To see that character receive more time and even a slightly more momentous role (although yes, it is still unnecessary to the plot) was a slap in the face to Rose, and TLJ.
But, despite its downfalls, this was still a fun film. It was action-packed, redeeming, suspenseful (even if you predicted the end like I did) and I really did enjoy watching it, I’d see it a second time in theaters. It has everything you expect of a Star Wars film, even if the delivery isn’t perfect. It takes a much darker turn that any of its predecessors, the Emperor in particular being an absolutely eerie and almost haunting presence. Poe is at his best, so fans of the Resistance pilot are in for a treat. Leia’s scenes are truly organic, and the fact they were able to include her in such a beautiful, poignant way was an amazing dedication to both General Leia Organa and Carrie Fisher. Plus, to see her reunited with her daughter, Billie Lourd (who has played Connix in all three films), is bound to pull at every heartstring. But please, heed those warnings if you’re photosensitive, they are certainly warranted.
THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH COULD BE CONSIDERED A SPOILER, NO PLOT POINTS BUT A MAIN STORY ARC IS REVEALED
While some may disagree, Kylo Ren helmed the best storyline, perhaps saving this film with his, yes predictable, but perfect redemption arc. Deep down I think everyone knew Kylo Ren was always conflicted about his place in the world — with the Sith or the Jedi — and the way Driver is able to portray these emotions so effortlessly is commendable, particularly in this film. Ren is being internally pulled in both directions — the Emperor on one shoulder, Rey on the other — and to finally see the struggles of Kylo/Ben play out was something an actor of Driver’s capability could manifest. Each of my favorite scenes see Kylo Ren in some way, and he’s truly the star of this installation in the trilogy.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently playing in theaters, and if you’re looking for a fun, high-flying film, this will hit the mark.