Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review


When Disney bought Lucasfilm, acquiring the Star Wars franchise back in 2012, reactions were mixed and expectations high. Fans were concerned about where the story would go without George Lucas, who created the vision and headed the first six movies. Most were cautiously optimistic, seeing as the brand under Disney could do very well creatively and from a business standpoint.

The Force Awakens hit in 2015 and was met with applause. The film resembled the old trilogy and felt refreshing at the same time, being perhaps the best entry since 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. The second film in the trilogy wasn’t as highly received. 2017’s The Last Jedi proved to be the most the divisive film from the franchise. While some critics praised the movie for its change of pace, many bashed it, criticizing it for the inconsistent story-line. Fans were upset and took to boycotting 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, which bombed at the box office, becoming the first in the franchise to lose money. So, without a doubt, tensions for the ninth installment were at an all-time high, attempting to fix the mistakes made before and wrap up three trilogies that have taken place over the course of 40 years.

With a divided fan base, The Rise of Skywalker was destined to be divisive. In any case, ending a trilogy can be very tricky, and, while the Star Wars finale plays things a little too safe, it manages to be a solid ending to the story so far. Daisy Ridley (playing Rey) and Adam Driver (playing Kylo Ren) both respectively rise to the challenge of their roles, the former coming to terms with who she really is and the latter revealing emotional instabilities under his mask. Visually, the film is spectacular and the action sequences – in the air and on the ground – are well done. Where the film falters is in its first half, most of it consisting of basic exposition with the main characters hopping around from place to place and getting a clue or attaining a piece to the puzzle like it’s a level in a video game. At some points the dialogue becomes boring and the tension loses itself through quick changes in tone; one minute a character dies in a serious scene and the next the rest of the characters have moved on and are making jokes. The second half, however, starts to rack up the tension and becomes very enjoyable.

The lack of a cohesive story is probably why the story seems unexciting to watch at times. From The Force Awakens to The Rise of Skywalker, the switching of writers and directors has made the trilogy seem to have less of a focused story-line and more of a blur of ideas put together. With so much backlash against The Last Jedi, director J.J. Abrams seemed to have no choice but to crowd the final installment with fan service in an attempt to make fans happy.

But where the film excels is in its nostalgia. There were scenes that – whether through the music, the visuals, or a piece of dialogue – reminded you of the mythic wonder of the earlier films. There were scenes that made the audience applaud, laugh, and gasp, which made it all the more enjoyable to watch. While there were certainly scenes with a lack of empathy from the audience, and others where there were messy plots and confusing story-lines, the ending was solid enough to wrap up all three trilogies in a satisfying way. The Rise of Skywalker was an enjoyable and satisfying entry into the Star Wars franchise and, while Disney still has some work cut out for them, it’s perhaps a re-starting point for them work off of and get fans coming back to see stories on screen from a galaxy far, far away.