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‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Movie Review: An Overcooked Apology

BY Daniel Rayner

Published 5 years ago

'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Movie Review: An Overcooked Apology

WARNING: This movie review contains spoilers from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker supposedly is the last installment in the Skywalker Saga. In an attempt to tie all three films together, J.J. Abrams points Episode IX back to the direction he initially designed. Given the completely different take on the sequel’s new characters in The Last Jedi, one cannot help but wonder how Abrams handles the last part of the trilogy. With a runtime two hours and twenty-two minutes, Episode IX concludes the sequel trilogy launched in 2015.

In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Resistance makes its final stand against the First Order. With the news of the resurrection of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) reaching the Resistance, Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), C3PO (Anthony Daniels), and BB-8 (Brian Herring & Dave Chapman) embark on a journey to find the Emperor. Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) leads the First Order at the Emperor’s bidding. During desperate times, Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) guide our heroes on the right path.

The Good

World Building

John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


In terms of World Building, the movie invested much. From Pasaana to the ruins of Death Star II in Kef Bir, one can take into account the amount of artistic excellence in developing in each world. Along with new species and characters, each planet has attributes that contribute to the visual appeal of the movie. The presentation of Death Star II is arguably the best, containing discarded stormtrooper armor, far from the sinister evil it used to represent. Other worlds like Exogol and Kijimi have a Hoth-like vibe, although much, much darker. Exogol made the best place for a Sith lair, establishing a cultist atmosphere suitable to the resurrected Emperor Palpatine. Ajan Kloss, on the other hand, reflects the Rebel Alliance’s Yavin IV Base.

Space Dogfights

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


At the beginning of the movie, a spectacular chase sequence between the Millenium Falcon and First Order TIE Fighters unravels. Poe does a series of lightspeed jumps that are not only unsafe but also unconventional. Each time a scene involved spacecraft, one can expect nothing less of an awe-inducing display. From the threatening numbers of the Sith Fleet to the relieving arrival of Resistance Reinforcements, the movie has good use of the various starships in the Star Wars Universe. The menacing, looming Star Destroyers of the Sith Fleet prove to be quite a match for the Resistance Legion that barely holds out on its own. The true star of the show, however, is the Millenium Falcon, always being in the right place at the right time as Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Chewie save the day one too many times.


Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


Aside from being the only Star Wars film shot on 35 mm film, the movie comprises of superb cinematic cuts. While it did not implore the classic transitions of both the Prequel and the Original Trilogy, the movie has extensive use of establishing shots. Some scenes use drone shots, too, as a way of emphasizing the importance of the location, or the characters in the scene. The fight scenes, on the other hand, use wide-angle shots, allowing full visuals of the choreography of lightsaber duels. While Rey and Kylo’s lightsaber duels do not rival those of the Prequels and Original Trilogy films, their encounters here are good by their rights.

The Bad

Poor Character Development

Joonas Suotamo, Brian Herring, Dave CHapman, Robin Guiver, Lynn Robertson Bruce, Anthony Daniels, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


On both the Resistance Side and the First Order Side, character development issues are everywhere. Here is a list of things that are wrong with what they did to the movie’s characters.

The Resistance
  • Rey is overpowered, a recurring problem since The Force Awakens.
  • Finn is there for comic relief. The writers never truly expanded on his character.
  • Poe has a Han Solo backstory that was at least mentioned, but not explained further.
  • Rey, Finn, and Poe’s relationships are complicated. Yes, they are a group of friends, but their dynamic does not make sense. Poe and Rey argue at some point, and then never speak again. Finn, on the other hand, seems to like Rey romantically, especially when he mentions something he has to tell Rey privately.
  • Leia’s death is admittedly hard to handle, with actress Carrie Fisher deceased. The movie did what it could to honor her character.
  • Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) came from a Lead Role in The Last Jedi to become a side character in the Resistance Base.
  • C3PO gets a memory wipe to have him breech programming protocol and translate a Sith Inscription that reveals Emperor Palpatine’s location. He gets his memory back later in the film, rendering his sacrifice useless.
  • Chewie ‘dies’ when Rey accidentally uses Force lightning on a First Order Transport. It is later revealed that he is in a different transport. Also, Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’O) randomly gives Chewie Han Solo’s (Harrison Ford) medal at the end of the film.
  • Luke can catch and lift animate objects despite being a Force-Ghost.
  • Jannah (Naomi Ackie) is supposed to be Lando’s lost daughter, taken away by the First Order hence her Stormtrooper background. This entire subplot is removed from the film, reduced to Lando offering to help her figure out her ancestry in the ending.
The First Order
  • General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is the Resistance’s mole in the First Order. He merely wishes for Kylo to fail. As such, he simply dies at the hands of a new character, General Pryde (Richard E. Grant).
  • The Sith Legion, composed of thousands of Planet-destroying Star Destroyers and legions of Sith Troopers, has mysterious origins.
  • The Sith Legion also appears to be overpowered, until they die too easily for ships with their capabilities.
  • General Pryde supposedly served Emperor Palpatine during the days of the Empire but dies anyway before getting a proper character explanation.
  • Snoke is a clone. He is probably a deformed Palpatine clone, but yes, he is a clone.
  • The nature of Emperor Palpatine’s survival is unclear.
  • Palpatine is Rey’s grandfather, who somehow has a good unnamed son (Billy Howle) who sells Rey to slavers in Jakku to keep her safe.
  • The First Order has considerably less screen time, making its plot bland and linear.
  • The Knights of Ren are once again misused, being Kylo’s lackeys up until the point where Ben kills them.
  • Kylo Ren uncharacteristically turns from the dark side. His redemption arc is unsubstantial. He also dies the way Jedi become one with the Force.

Overusing Nostalgia

Joonas Suotamo and Billy Dee Williams in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


References to the previous material are okay. Much like easter eggs, nods to the Prequel and Sequel trilogies are treats for longtime fans. However, the movie heavily relies on such things, neglecting to craft a proper plot. Generally, the movie aims to captivate viewers through wow factors, and this includes the nostalgia effect. Initially, such references happen smoothly. Some of them go as far as being humorous. Unfortunately, they eventually began to feel too forced. Eventually, it reaches a point where they are everywhere. They do not necessarily advance the plot, either. For the most part, nostalgia sequences spark the interest of the audience when the plot becomes boring and they suddenly appear.

Misusing The Force

Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


Repeatedly, Rey mentions that she is not worthy of wielding Anakin’s lightsaber since she did not finish training. None of which matters, however, Rey still uses The Force to her benefit. Also, Rey and Kylo’s Force connection from The Last Jedi returns, battling each other in shared visions. This Force connection remains a mystery, but regardless, has extensive use throughout the Kylo-Rey Dynamic. The movie introduces Force Healing, a Force ability from the Expanded Universe and recently reintroduced in The Mandalorian. Rey heals a snake-creature and later, Kylo. Kylo, now Ben, having turned back to the Light Side, uses this same ability to bring Rey back to life after her confrontation with Palpatine. Apart from their kiss that has no romantic build-up, Ben also unreasonably dies after reviving Rey. Rey and Finn are the only living Force-sensitive beings in the main continuity now, and Finn does not even know it.

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Final Verdict

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker tries to undo the events of The Last Jedi in the first part of the film. As it barely does so properly, it presents more plot holes and severely mishandles the characters. Its reliance on nostalgia, as well as its desperate attempts to please fans, greatly contributes to how poor the plot turns out. While the movie is visually compelling, it becomes an intellectual disaster as it opens one too many stories with little to no closure. As the Skywalker Saga’s supposed end draws to a close, fans receive a sense of relief. Whether it is with the nightmare over or for a satisfactory ending is entirely up to you.

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