Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is not a bad movie. It really isn’t despite what many people online and common media outlets will tell you. It’s a movie that has a lot of ground to cover with over two hours of film time trying to please fans based off the not-so-pleasant reviews of The Last Jedi. Director JJ Abrams (who also directed The Force Awakens) came into Skywalker as a late addition after director Colin Trevorrow departed from the project due to creative differences. It shows as Abram’s use of fan service is not shy in this film at all. Throughout the film there is a lot of fan service sprinkled in to appeal to older fans from a galaxy not long ago. This is something director of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson, tried to avoid. But trying to get fans back on Disney’s side by appealing to the masses hurt the overall product in the end.
It also goes to show that when a series of movies are made without a well-structured plan, the ending can get a bit messy. This rings true with this movie wholeheartedly as decisions that were made in The Last Jedi were completely ignored or even taken out in Skywalker. The use of Kelly Marie Tran as Rose was a huge addition in Jedi, yet she had maybe five minutes of screen time here. She was Finn’s love interest in the last film and now she was nowhere to be found. The Knights of Ren were finally in this movie! But they did almost nothing and were just there to finally be on the big screen. New characters were introduced as well ,including Finn’s new love interest, but it struggled to fit into the narrative with such a fast-moving plot. Ultimately, there wasn’t enough time for the viewer to care much about who they were.
The return of Emperor Palpatine or as the opening crawl states, “THE DEAD SPEAK!”, is a clearly misguided direction from the higher ups at Disney working on Star Wars. There was no way that when these movies were announced years ago that the Emperor was brought up as someone who would return to fit into the narrative with these new movies. The decision to make him related to Rey is just a complete shot in the dark that signaled no plan, but we need someone to be related to her. It’s also worth mentioning that it is never acknowledged how he survived the Death Star explosion years prior in Return of the Jedi. That’s just something that viewers would have to research on their own time. Bringing back the Emperor made very little sense as the movie’s final antagonist make it a totally disjointed ending to the Skywalker saga. But, I guess you can say he was an antagonist in all three trilogies now?
Some good that this movie did was with the character arcs of Rey and Kylo Ren. Rey really came into her own here, making her a good choice to lead the series into the future. We see Rey embrace her heritage as a Palpatine (still odd) and handle the romantic elements of her relationship with Kylo very well. At one point in the film she struggles gravely with having to not kill Kylo Ren and through this she revives him, realizing that she must defeat any evil that is within her by later confronting her grandfather. It’s through their arcs where we see them come together to defeat the emperor in the end. Yet, Kylo still struggles early on with his light and dark side natures. Seemingly staying on the dark side, it’s not until his father Han Solo reaches out to him that he realizes that he must turn to the light side to help Rey. Now as far as the creative decision to turn Kylo back to Ben Solo? That’s questionable on its own. Here, though, Adam Driver did such a great job as the hero coming from behind. It was believable, he made you want to see Ben Solo succeed. A touchy scene in the end wrapped up Rey and Ben Solo’s relationship nicely by showcasing both actors’ strong on-screen chemistry. They made you want to see both live on together and rule the galaxy, so kudos to Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver for strong performances.
It’s also worth mentioning that this movie was famous composer John William’s last Star Wars film, and as always, the score was fantastic.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is not a bad movie, but it’s not a good movie either. There’s a lot that it had to fit in within a short time frame. With its fast-paced plot, lack of structure, odd creative decisions, and even a hint of fan service, you could see that Disney was playing catch up in this one. There was not a plan in place for this movie (most notably with the Emperor’s return) and it felt like it was coming off of a different Star Wars movie rather than its predecessor, The Last Jedi. Not the best way to end the Skywalker saga for sure, but at least the movie made over a billion dollars in the box office, right?
FINAL SCORE: 6.5/10