Cast: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley
Director: J.J. Abrams
Well, here it is. For sci-fi and big franchise fans everywhere, this is probably the biggest release of the year behind Endgame. The first two movies in this series have been kind of a system shock for some fans and they’ve responded with severe agitation towards these new movies. So, how does the grand conclusion fare? It’s ok. If it didn’t have the Star Wars brand tied to it we would’ve watched a respectable sci-fi movie, but the sky-high expectations really did the viewers in this time. Interesting and captivating, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a solid conclusion to this era of the franchise and ends almost exactly as you would expect.
The film continues after the events of the previous with Rey (Ridley) and the resistance looking to finally put an end to Kylo Ren (Driver) and the First Order. While this is already a difficult enough task on its own, when Kylo and Rey discover that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is alive and looking to make a return to full power, the two must figure out who he will side with and what to do with the power and opportunities he can provide them. As a Star Wars movie, this film once again excels in the more technical aspects required of a good sci-fi movie. Things like the score, sound, and visual effects are all on par with other action franchises and show that after all this time Star Wars still has it together. When you combine this with a backstory that goes back more than 40 years means we get a movie where all of the characters and special moments have more of an emotional impact than a movie where we’re just meeting the characters. That being said, some of the moments of the plot end up harming the movie more than enhancing it the way they were hoping for. Even though the movie uses a lot of characters from the past, we learn significant details about them that contradict what we know about them from previous movies. I’m ok with characters getting more depth, but it needs to make sense and with a 142 minute runtime, it’s tough to cover everything that’s been built up in the last two movies and have it end with a satisfying conclusion for everyone. Even though this is a fairly standard hero’s journey, you’d expect something a little more gripping and important coming from a franchise that made more than $1 billion on this movie. The Star Wars movies have certainly taken a unique turn since Disney took them over, and while some of that has resulted in positive change for the franchise, it doesn’t exactly work for this movie. It’s unfortunate because this series and characters really deserved a more concrete and satisfying sendoff and I can’t help but feel as though we missed out on something more. I’m sure Disney will bounce back with their future Star Wars movies, but when all eyes were on it, they came up short.
Overall, even the movie looks and sounds good, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ends up just barely meeting expectations but may leave superfans of the series disappointed. Sure you won’t be able to please everyone, but with the amount of talent present on screen there was a real missed opportunity to make something special here. As a sendoff movie for many of the original cast, they should be satisfied with the end product, but I don’t think any of them will call this movie the biggest success of their careers. Even with Abrams back as a director, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker can’t overcome its premade obstacles to deliver us one of the best movie experiences of the year.
Overall Score: 6/10