“Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker” Ends The Saga On An Uneven Note


Maybe it was always going to be impossible to wrap this story up in a fully satisfying manner? Star Wars means so much to so many people, and often different things, after all. Look no further to the differing receptions in some parts of the fandom that J.J. Abrams received for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rian Johnson got for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Now, Abrams returns, stepping in for Colin Trevorrow, to conclude a new trilogy, as well as the full Saga, with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The result, while entertaining, is certainly the weakest of the new installments. Despite some high points, the lows are pronounced, leading to at least a mild sense of disappointment.

This is, of course, the ninth installment in the Star Wars Saga, concluding not only the modern trilogy, but the entirety of the story so far. Without spoiling things, we follow Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), along with some of our other favorite heroes, as they lead the Resistance towards a final confrontation with the First Order, now led by Kylo Ten (Adam Driver). As Rey and Kylo continue to have a complex relationship that belies just a hero vs villain dynamic, their pasts, as well as their future, are upended by the re-emergence of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), long thought perished. As a Final Order arises with gigantic military might, our heroes search for clues to an end to the conflict, as well as answers to many of the questions that the series has posed over the years. Abrams directs a screenplay he co-wrote with Chris Terrio (Trevorrow and Derek Connolly retain Story By credits), with cinematography by Dan Mindel, and of course another score from the great John Williams. Rounding out the cast are Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Mark Hamill, Billie Lourd, Dominic Monaghan, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Billy Dee Williams, plus plenty more, including some big cameos.

The first third of this film is fairly rough. So much of that section is action scene after action scene, all in a desperate push to get what amounts to little more than a MacGuffin. There’s also the re-introduction of Palpatine, which isn’t handled too smoothly. It all feels clumsy and clunky. The return of Lando Calrissian is better though, hammering home how hit and miss some of these new/old elements are. Abrams and Terrio mess around with a lot of what Johnson did in The Last Jedi, though some of it is just to continue parts of the story from The Force Awakens. The middle section of the flick is a bit better, but it’s the final act, preposterous and overblown as it is, that works the best. They do get to a few moving emotional beats too, so while this doesn’t become Avengers: Endgame, it’s not a full on fumble either.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is clearly fan service, and that’s fine, but so much of it is meant to hammer home that this is the end of things, it loses some of what makes a great Star Wars movie in the first place. In trying to be everything that fans want, while still subverting expectations, it seems destined to leave the most amount of viewers unfulfilled. That’s a shame too, as this had the potential to be positively epic. It still is, but the epic nature feels more rushed and less, well…Star Wars than hoped for.

Overall, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is still clearly worth seeing. Fans of the franchise won’t be completely let down, and plenty will unabashedly love it. The Rise of Skywalker probably will wind up being as divisive as The Last Jedi, just with opposing sides being drawn from that one. Maybe that’s just where this series is going? Whatever the case, it’s in theaters everywhere in just a few short days and demands your attention. Your affection? Well, that remains to be seen…


Be sure to check out Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, in theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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