'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Film Review
Start writing a post
Entertainment

'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Film Review

(NO SPOILERS) The Skywalker saga's finale may be messy, but its grandeur feels earned and worth it

40
'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Film Review
Photo Credit: Star Wars – YouTube

October 30th, 2012 is a date that will forever be engraved in my mind. Not just because it's the day that Disney acquired Lucasfilm (and by proxy Star Wars), sending shockwaves throughout the industry and the fandom, but I also track it as the genesis of where my life would go over the coming decade.

I've gone into this in a Meet The Reporter article and a recent Twitter thread among other places, but my love of Star Wars has lasted since I was a kid, and this announcement was the catalyst for me discovering my love of film, turning to writing to express that love, and eventually choosing ASU's Walter Cronkite School to continue my passions for writing and storytelling. It still amazes me that I am where I am because a 10-year-old me saw the 'Revenge of the Sith' trailer with no context and thought "this...this will be my life from now on."

Now, we're seven years in the future, and at a time that seems disturbingly removed from that epicenter, Star Wars hasn't gone anywhere. The new regime under producer Kathleen Kennedy has seen a plethora of new content, including critically acclaimed television shows, books and comics offering a fresh start to stories canon within the overarching story (and angering sections of the fan base in the process), and, most importantly, a slew of new feature-length films.

Through all of it, I seem to be one of the more overly-optimistic fans still standing. I've had my issues with how the behind-the-scenes processes at Lucasfilm have been run over the years, but I'm also one of the rare people you'll find who holds 2015's 'The Force Awakens,' 2016's 'Rogue One,' and 2017's 'The Last Jedi' up as terrific films that told compelling and, if you can believe it, entertaining stories furthering the world and mythology that I've loved since childhood (heck, I don't mind 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' despite not leaning towards any passionate opinion one way or another).
*I would, however, argue that, whatever you think of the new films, calling them a failure predicates a re-examination of that word's definition, as well as the dozen Academy Award nominations between them, billions in profits, and swarms of new fans finding their own love of the series through these new stories. That's about as salty as I'll get, let's move on before I actually get angry."

Even with 'The Mandalorian' currently captivating audiences on Disney+ and more content on the horizon, 'The Rise of Skywalker' was set to be the culmination of this era of Star Wars, wrapping up not just the sequel trilogy, but the nine films of the so-called "Skywalker" saga, including the original and prequel trilogies. Ambitious to be sure, but slightly more confusing to bring back J.J. Abrams into the director's chair, who mainly received criticism on TFA for being too safe (although I would argue that "safe" is the wrong word, and Abrams' choices were necessary for the type of story that would bring Star Wars back).

I'm just now realizing that I'm nearing 600 words, and I still have not actually talked about 'The Rise of Skywalker' yet.

Giphy

Alright, no more beating around the bush; is 'The Rise of Skywalker' the strong finish fans we were hoping for or not? Well, as I'm writing this, it's only been a few hours since I saw the film and, I have to be honest, I'm still processing what I saw, mostly because there is A LOT in this movie.

The two hours and twenty minutes comprising 'The Rise of Skywalker' offer what might be some of the densest, most convoluted storytelling in any Star Wars movie, and those elements are pervasive enough to where a lot of people will easily be unimpressed. Yet, I can't lie to you guys: I walked out entertained. It's exciting, riveting adventure that Star Wars has come to know as its bread and butter, but with a whole lot of great character interactions and new twists and turns that, and least for me, made it all worth it.

How am I going to write a plot synopsis for this one? Well, I'll do my best (and will inevitably leave out ALL THE CONTEXT) based on what we've gotten so far in the marketing.

One year after the events of 'The Last Jedi,' we find our heroes of the Resistance slowly regaining their stability under the leadership of General Leia (played by Carrie Fisher). Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) and Finn (played by John Boyega) obtain information from spies that seems to confirm that The First Order has been setting up something big that could threaten every system in the Galaxy. Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) is continuing her Jedi training under Leia, but seems conflicted with her new role as the last of the Jedi.

Meanwhile, Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver), with the aid of his Knights of Ren, has replaced the now-dead Snoke as Supreme Leader of the First Order and, as the Resistance fears, aims to use ancient relics to drive the galaxy under the control of his new empire. All of this coincides with a seemingly impossible evil coming to aid The First Order, with our heroes trying to inspire the galaxy to fight alongside them, and the fates of Rey and Kylo caught in the balance.

I don't think I spoiled anything, and I don't think I held too much back. This is going to be more difficult than I'd thought, isn't it?

To reiterate, I actually think there's a lot to like from this. For one thing, I would argue the potentially infuriating comparison that this is the biggest stakes of any film in the series. No really, between the lack of resources of The Resistance, the growing power of The First Order, the spreading thin of our characters, the lack of hope and allies and, yes, the "other" parties involved that I will not spoil, I had a handful of times sitting in the theater where I was fearing for everyone. Who was going win, and how?

J.J. Abrams does a masterful job at driving home those classic senses of emotion Star Wars can bring: hope in the midst of overwhelming odds. But he also knows what's at stake in this story, and that our main characters will have to fight with everything they have to win the day. In that sense, I could even make a slight comparison to 'The Last Jedi,' but instead of a slow and steady Star Destroyer chase, we get things like The First Order's power dynamics across the galaxy and Kylo Ren hauntingly tracking down our heroes wherever they are, almost as a Michael Meyers pastiche.

It only took four years, but we finally get a movie with a trinity of heroes at the focus, that being Rey, Finn, and Poe. I've heard some discourse about what kind of relationship they have in the film, and I would argue that it's done pretty effectively. I love how they work off of each other, they offer different things to the mission, and, in the end, there is a genuine friendship between them. I can't say it works perfectly (Finn's journey seems to be kind of ebbing and flowing out of focus), but it felt like Star Wars in that sense, and all three of these actors feel the most comfortable with these roles yet.

As far as some of the other characters, Joonas Suotamo's Chewbacca also plays a pretty pivotal role on the trio's mission (and giving us a firm character link to the original trilogy) and Anthony Daniels is, to no one's shock, consistently delightful as C-3PO, and surprisingly might be the funniest he's ever been in this role. For the screen time we get with them, I also really appreciated Naomi Ackie's Jannah, a Resistance ally and a pretty fun inclusion later on in the story, and Richard E. Grant's Allegiant General Pride, a First Order officer who seems to be more delightfully sinister as the film goes on.

I also want to address the use of General Leia in this film. After Carrie Fisher's passing, many of us were unsure of how Leia's seemingly pivotal role in Episode IX would pan out, and I have to admit I was in awe. From only a few piecemeal scenes, Abrams constructs Leia as a guiding force for Rey's journey in the Force, Poe's growing sense of leadership, and The Resistance's morale at large, and Carrie Fisher's warmth and poise feels as if she never left (not ashamed to admit I shed a tear when she popped up on screen).

Let's get into the heart of the story (and where I have to be the most careful about spoilers): the relationship and eventual confrontation between Rey and Kylo Ren. The nobody scavenger and the wannabe successor of Darth Vader have come a long way since their introductions in 'The Force Awakens,' and while some might rage against the results, I would argue that Rey and Kylo's arcs by the end of 'The Rise of Skywalker' feels earned and, in some cases, powerfully emotional. Without going too into detail, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver pull out so much in their performances to get these characters to where they need to go, and the environment around them feels enough to make their own senses of conflicts feel distinct and earning of their status in the trilogy (also the fight scenes are really creative and so much fun to watch, I wish I could tell you about them).

But...this film is not perfect, nor is it the best in the sequel trilogy by a mile. In fact, my conundrum is that I think it's the weakest of the sequel trilogy, yet still a fitting end for the nine films of the Skywalker saga (I know, that sounds weird, I'll try and elaborate). If you couldn't gather from my stressful writing, this film is PACKED, and it feels like it. Sometimes too much content can be unaffected by good pacing; 'The Rise of Skywalker' is, unfortunately, the opposite.

The pacing just doesn't flow well enough for the amount of content to resonate enough. Whether you argue that "that content" is world-building or fan service or a little of both, the reality is the film is just brimming with excuses to bring up names and ideas from past films, new planets, and even new characters. Some of them are done in a way that I thought was incredibly cool, but others feel just kind of dropped in just to say "hey fans, don't worry, they're still here!" If J.J. Abrams really wanted to go all-out insane with this one as a grand finale, it works enough, but it does feel like the story is sometimes more concerned with shock value than actual shifts in our vision of the story.

Then there's the issue of adhering to those past tones and ideas. The split in fans from 'The Last Jedi' is more than likely going to continue from here, thought frankly I don't think it's warranted. The meta ideas and different storytelling Rian Johnson incorporated into that film are only kind of present here, with Abrams approaching the mythology much more like his work with 'The Force Awakens.' If you liked one or the other, you may not be impeccably invested here, and even as someone who loved both of those, the mixing and conclusion of those stories works well, but not well enough to where I can wholeheartedly defend it.

There's so much more I want to delve into; John William's always magical music, the politics of the war, and yes, ALL the spoilers. For now, I'll leave it at this: 'The Rise of Skywalker' is a good movie. It's not a great movie, it's not the best Star Wars movie, and sadly will not make my best of the year list. But what it does do, at least for whatever my canon junkie opinion is worth, is give us a story that feels remarkably 'Star Wars;' poignant, hopefully, funny, adventurous, and with characters and world-building that feel something out of our storytelling dreams.

I don't know if the fandom will unite around/against this, and I don't know what the franchise going forward will come up with next, whether the Disney+ series starts to take precedence or new stories grace the big screens in a few years' time. But at this moment, I found this to work on the levels I was hoping it would, and Star Wars will continue to fascinate my imagination no matter how imperfect its finale might be.

Overall, I give 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' a score of 8/10.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

150 Words For Anyone Who Loves Football Games

Why I love high school football games, even though I don't like football.

312
Dallas News

When most think of high school they think of friend drama, parties, getting your drivers license, and best of all foot ball games.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics

10 Greatest Speeches In Modern American History

The United States is a relatively infantile nation, but its legacy of spoken rhetoric is one of the richest in the world.

2434
flickr

Rhetoric, in all its forms, arrives under the scrutiny of historians both for its historical impact and literary value. Dozens of speeches have either rallied the nation together or driven it drastically apart –– the impact of speeches in politics, social movements, and wars is undeniable.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics

What If The U.N. Actually United The Nations?

This is me taking a break from being cynical and imagining how the world could be one day.

3670
Unsplash

By now, people are probably sick of hearing me talk about myself, so I’m changing it up this week. In keeping with the subject of my J-Term class, I’m asking myself a political what-if question. What if we could create a sovereign global government firmly grounded in justice that could actually adjudicate Earth’s many disparate nation-states into one unified world government?

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

100 Things I'd Rather Do Than Study

Procrastination Nation, unite.

4184
Panda Whale
Here are 100 things I'd rather to than study. I know the semester just started, but

    1. Watch a movie
    2. Take a nap
    3. Have a dance party
    4. Eat ice cream
    5. Bake a cake
    6. Cry just a little bit
    7. Knit a blanket
    8. Learn to ride a bike
    9. Build a crib
    10. Watch a hockey game
    11. Watch any game
    12. Play with my hair
    13. Dye my hair
    14. Go grocery shopping
    15. Learn to crochet
    16. Do 50 jumping jacks
    17. Drive cross country
    18. Take a bubble bath
    19. Squeeze lemons for lemonade
    20. Sell the lemonade
    21. Make heart-shaped ice cubes
    22. Moisturize my knees
    23. Paint my nails
    24. Find the cure for cancer
    25. Run a marathon
    26. Just kidding, run down the hall
    27. Squat my bodyweight
    28. Eat my bodyweight in French fries
    29. Hibernate until Christmas
    30. Cuddle my body pillow (unless you have a boo)
    31. Think about all the work I’m not doing
    32. Wash my bed sheets
    33. Vacuum my apartment
    34. Play mini golf
    35. Go swimming
    36. Tan in this Texas heat
    37. Sing like I’m about to win American Idol
    38. Blow up balloons
    39. Pop the balloons
    40. Make lists
    41. Write an Odyssey article
    42. Pet a puppy
    43. Adopt a puppy
    44. Pay my rent
    45. Order a pizza
    46. Start a garden
    47. Cook a turkey
    48. Find new music
    49. Clean my waffle iron
    50. Learn to make jam
    51. Jam to music
    52. Play scrabble
    53. Volunteer anywhere
    54. Celebrate a birthday
    55. Watch a makeup tutorial I’ll never use
    56. Go through old pictures on my phone
    57. Make a playlist
    58. Take a shower
    59. Clean my room
    60. Curl my hair
    61. Climb a rock wall
    62. Get a massage
    63. Play with Snapchat filters
    64. Roast a chicken
    65. Go fishing
    66. Chug some Snapple
    67. Ride in a cart around Walmart
    68. Count the days until the semester is over
    69. Overthink about my future
    70. Think of my future baby’s names
    71. Pin everything on Pinterest
    72. Text anybody
    73. Pray about life
    74. Watch a sunset
    75. Watch a sunrise
    76. Have a picnic
    77. Read a book (that’s not for school)
    78. Go to a bakery
    79. Snuggle a bunny
    80. Clean my apartment
    81. Wash my dishes
    82. Rearrange my furniture
    83. Physically run away from my problems
    84. Make some meatballs
    85. Learn to make bread
    86. Google myself
    87. Ride a Ferris wheel
    88. Get stuck on a Ferris wheel (that way, it’s not my fault I’m not studying)
    89. Wash my car
    90. Get on a plane to Neverland
    91. Find Narnia in my closet
    92. Jump on a trampoline
    93. Learn to ice skate
    94. Go rollerblading
    95. Ride a rollercoaster
    96. Carve a pumpkin
    97. Restore water in a third world country
    98. FaceTime my family
    99. Hug my mom
    100. Tell my friends I love them
    Featured

    The Basics Of The United Nations

    As the General Assembly convenes, here is the United Nations 101

    3029
    WikiMedia

    For an organization that literally unites the nations, it amazes me how little is taught about the United Nations in schools, or at least where I went to school. It wasn't until I went to college and got a higher education that I learned the basics of the United Nations. I believe that every American should know at least the basics of what the United Nations does, especially since our country is one of the 5 permanent members. So here are the main "organs" of the United Nations.

    Keep Reading... Show less

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Facebook Comments