Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a fitting conclusion to the epic Skywalker Saga. It closes one rather large chapter in the storytelling world of Star Wars by bringing back old characters, revisiting past themes and giving a fitting sendoff to those that we've grown to love over the years. It also tries desperately to course-correct the actions brought into play in The Last Jedi, which makes for an over-stuffed blockbuster that's uneven and far from perfect, but still fine in its own right.
J.J. Abrams returns to direct the “final” chapter in the Skywalker Saga, titled Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Having been absent for the last film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Abrams attempts to bring one of the most notable series in cinematic history “home”, by calling back to previous films, bringing back old characters, while also attempting to wrap up the new characters’ story arcs in a way that serves as dual satisfaction, while also closing the books on this iteration of the franchise. If that doesn’t sound like a mouthful and a rather large order to take, then I just don’t know what does.
The Rise of Skywalker picks up almost immediately after the events of The Last Jedi, with Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) regrouping with the last bits of the Resistance in hopes of finally being able take down The First Order once and for all.
Meanwhile, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has heard the voice of the long-forgotten Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) and is hellbent on finding him and destroying him, thus making him the most powerful person in all of the galaxy.
If the plot to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker sounds kind of thin that is because it is. The Rise of Skywalker isn’t as much about going boldly into a new direction as it is revisiting previous characters and familiar stories that rely heavily on character payoff more than actual story and character progression.
What I mean by that is Abrams is more worried about squeezing in a brief, but almost pointless appearance by Lando (Billy Dee Williams) than he is actually explaining where Lando has been or why his involvement is suddenly important.
If this sort of thing bothers you, then The Rise of Skywalker is most certainly not for you, because most of the film is a highlight reel of characters that we have grown attached to over the years, making one last appearance to say their “goodbyes” to the franchise that most-likely helped elevate their careers.
And that’s not exactly a bad thing. The Rise of Skywalker is still a fun time at the movies for Star Wars lovers. It challenges its audience less, which is a fair trade off with something like The Last Jedi, which pushed the series in a new, albeit different direction.
I personally didn’t care for Rian Johnson‘s take on Star Wars, but I respect him as a filmmaker trying to take chances and make something unique. I just feel that he lost the magic of what made Star Wars….Star Wars.
But on that flip side, J.J. Abrams is a very safe and uneventful filmmaker that really doesn’t have any creative juices flowing in him. He proved that with The Force Awakens, a retread of A New Hope, with new special effects and slightly altered characters. This was fine, because Star Wars needed to resurface in a way that was familiar, but fresh.
The expectation is that it would grow into its own thing for this generation, while still remaining faithful to the franchise at large.
The Last Jedi was a sharp jump out of what we knew, while The Rise of Skywalker is a firm step back into what we already know.
It’s essentially a lose-lose situation, which means approaching The Rise of Skywalker is going to be tough, because nobody is going to be happy with the outcome.
If you loved The Last Jedi, you’ll likely hate this outing, as it’s a scrambled mess of nostalgia, missing most of its common sense and robbing some of its bigger characters of their final moments.
That being said, those that appreciate the older films are probably going to fall for this one as it’s everything that we’ve seen before, just on a different scale, with a new paint job.
One character that was robbed of his moment was that of Kylo Ren. The turmoil inside of him comes spilling out, only in a somewhat hodge-podged way that gives him his moments, but they are all too brief and varying with their degree of importance.
Without spoiling things, Ren’s story comes full circle and it’s a great moment to watch, but then it just sort of stops and loses its importance. I feel that Abrams didn’t know how to juggle so many emotions and so many characters in a way that truly pays them all off.
Poe and Finn sort of take the backseat to Kylo and Rey, keeping their connection to the core characters and story, but just following the quests that require their presence for the sake of it, but not much else.
Rey is without a doubt the centerpiece here and while her reveal is predictable and all too safe — it’s satisfying enough to be deemed alright. I knew where they were going with it and I was more disappointed than I was annoyed.
And that’s perhaps The Rise of Skywalker‘s biggest downfall. It has moments of weirdness and insanity, but then it steps back to its predictability and undermines the entire new trilogy and maybe even the ones that came before it.
Could the writers really not come up with anything better?
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is still a good film, full of hope and self-growth that makes its characters relatable and enjoyable to watch. The sheer visual beauty on display is sometimes breath-taking — Abrams has always been a flashy filmmaker that knows how to visually engage his audience, even if its surface-level stuff that stops making sense once you peel back the layers.
The Rise of Skywalker is a fitting conclusion to a somewhat rocky trilogy of films that have all varied rather starkly in quality and ambition. It’s kind of weird calling it the closing chapter to The Skywalker Saga as that encompasses so many things that have been at play since George Lucas first birthed A New Hope. With that in mind, The Rise of Skywalker does feel like a letdown to some degrees, but if viewed more as the closure to a trilogy, then it makes sense and feels like Abrams did the best that he could, all things considered.
This leaves us in an interesting and exciting place. I am far more curious to see what comes next, if that means not constantly revisiting the past and getting stuck on stories that we’ve already seen (three times now!).
I hope The Mandalorian‘s success means the continuation of stories outside of this galaxy and I hope Rian Johnson really does get to make his Star Wars trilogy that has nothing to do with any of this, because we are at a point where Star Wars needs fresh creators with new ideas that aren’t so tied down to the past.
Thank you The Rise of Skywalker for giving us the closure that is needed to move forward and here’s to the next 50 years of Star Wars properties.