J. J. Abrams, you had one job…and you pulled it off. The Rise of Skywalker is both an epic end to the nine film Skywalker Saga that hits all the right emotional punches and at the same time a visually stunning and fun movie that works as a cap to the current trilogy’s character arcs.
Well, not completely in regards to the current trilogy, but more on that later. For now, let’s dive in with a MAJOR SPOILER WARNING in full effect:
Rey and Emperor Palpatine
Star Wars in general, and the Skywalker Saga in particular, has always been, at least at the highest levels, about good versus evil, or more specifically the Jedi versus the Sith. In The Rise of Skywalker, we get all the Jedi, through Rey (Daisy Ridley) finally destroying all of the Sith in the form of previously dead Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
McDiarmid delivers as always and fully embodies absolute evil and Rey is finally paired with an opponent who matches her albeit newly confirmed importance in the Force. The big reveal that she is his granddaughter makes sense and adds to the finale.
Her choice at the end to go by the name Skywalker delivers the right emotional punch to cap off nine movies. At the same time, Ridley’s performance was on point and helped Rey’s character arc come to a solid completion.
If these story choices sound like “too much fan service” as I have seen in other posts, well, I’m a fan and feel properly served. It’s the only way this saga should have ended.
I saw the movie on the preview night and I’m still thinking about it. That’s what Star Wars should do.
This movie was also the end of Leia’s story. In fact, it was originally supposed to involve the Princess turned General quite a bit, a task that seemed next to impossible to accomplish after the incomparable Carrie Fisher passed away.
Yet, with just a bit of unused footage from The Force Awakens, one use of a body double and some seriously clever scripting and shooting, Abrams was able to make Leia a major character in this movie. Honestly, her inclusion only looks slightly off twice.
He also gave Leia’s character a proper farewell. While it was doubly sad given that Fisher is no longer with us, it really worked.
Kylo or Ben, Doesn’t Matter
The only major arc I really didn’t buy was Kylo Ren’s redemption story. To be honest, I never really liked him as a villain or as a match for Rey.
She’s way out of his league both in terms of Force powers and romantically. That kiss was cringy (and I’ve seen Empire), but at least she got to defeat Palpatine on her own.
Ben getting closure with his parents was good, and the Harrison Ford cameo was cool and probably cost Disney a ton of cash. He didn’t need closure with Rey, though.
Fast and Funny
The comedy was on point. This movie managed to bring the humour that is integral to any good Star Wars film.
You even got the feeling that you were in the middle of a comedic adventure story. New characters, aka old characters, like Lando (Billy Dee Williams) just melded in. The best comedic moment coming when Leia asked the random resistance fighter to be more positive.
Sure, it was juxtaposed with all the epic drama, but it seemed properly balanced. My only complaint would have to be that some of it seemed rushed.
I Now Like The Last Jedi Less
It seems like the only major problems I have with this movie are actually issues with the last Star Wars Skywalker Saga Film The Last Jedi. While I may have been in the camp that approved of Rian Johnson’s entry in the franchise, I now see how much better this movie could have been if the last one had been different.
In particular, the ex-stormtrooper crew we first meet near the end of the film and Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell) and Babu Frik who we meet soon before are very interesting characters. If we had met them during TLJ instead, those parts might not have seemed so rushed here.
Also, all that Force Skyping between Rey and Kylo really seemed cheesy under Johnson’s direction, but here, it works. Hell, they even have a lightsaber fight without even being in the same room.
J.J. solved the problems that persisted from the previous entry and delivered what I would consider to be the best entry in the current trilogy and a solid end to the saga.
Job well done!