‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Movie Review – It’s Just Fine
Every new Star Wars movie since the first prequel has been divisive. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is proving to be no exception, despite co-writer and director J.J. Abrams’ attempts to satisfy everyone.
One review is probably not going to convince anyone that The Rise of Skywalker is good, nor should it if the film does not satisfy you. It may just be good enough at this point in a series that’s struggled to find its identity and place within its lucrative fandom in the last several films.
What ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is about with no spoilers
The synopsis of a Star Wars movie has to be somewhat vague because no one wants spoilers. Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C3PO (Anthony Daniels) have to go places to get things to stop Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
The opening crawl reveals that an old enemy has resurfaced. That seems like a big thing to have happened before the movie starts. Show us that. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker already starts in media res.
‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is more emotional than logical
Even if it were possible to go into more plot detail, it wouldn’t be necessary because The Rise of Skywalker is less concerned with resolving a plot than it is with making you feel. J.J. Abrams can get emotion from Star Wars even if it doesn’t really make sense. Those emotions often go back to the original trilogy. The Rise of Skywalker borrows as much from Return of the Jedi as The Force Awakens did from A New Hope.
Abrams also totally placates the Last Jedi haters, for better or worse. That essentially reduces The Last Jedi to a placeholder. You could skip right from The Force Awakens to The Rise of Skywalker. The film sidelines Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) because it feels like Abrams prefers his own characters.
New ‘Star Wars’ action
The Rise of Skywalker does add new toys to the collection, as each sequel or prequel has introduced new Star Wars elements. Lightspeed skipping is a new aspect of spaceship battles. It’s kind of like Star Tours where you get to see different worlds briefly during a chase. Storm Troopers have new vehicles, and new uniforms with enhanced abilities. Those chases may exist only to play with the new toys, but they still feel like Star Wars.
Rey, Finn and Poe visit the Festival of Ancestors and experience new cultures in the Star Wars galaxy. New characters like Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell) and Jannah (Naomie Ackie) are good but the most memorable will be the droidsmith Babu Frik because he’s little and cute.
Carrie Fisher’s Last ‘Star Wars’ words
J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio did a good job writing scenes for The Rise of Skywalker around snippets of dialogue they had Carrie Fisher saying from The Force Awakens. General Leia only speaks one line at a time. Usually she says something vague like, “Nothing’s impossible” or “Never underestimate a droid.” Or they’re platitudes like “Don’t tell me what things look like. Tell me what they are.” Those could apply to lots of different situations.
Some of her lines are a tad more specific. She references an enemy who’s always in shadows. When they filmed that scene for The Force Awakens, she was probably referring to Snoke or Kylo Ren but it works here. They also add new cast members like Kelly Marie Tran into scenes with Leia so it’s rather seamless. You’d have to be a writer to notice how they’re constructing Leia’s scenes with fragments.
At least Leia gets to finish her sentences. Throughout the film, Finn keeps trying to tell Rey something and never gets his chance. He never even says it at the end. Perhaps the filmmakers knew we could all figure out what he wants to say anyway so it doesn’t matter. It’s strange to set that up and never pay it off, even with a cliche.
Don’t believe ‘Star Wars’ is over
Despite Disney marketing and Abrams himself asserting that The Rise of Skywalker is the end of the Star Wars saga, it’s not. Not only are there other filmmakers developing new Star Wars projects, but this very film sets up other new directions the series can go. They may not call them “Episodes” anymore but there are new characters to explore and more life in the current ones.
The Rise of Skywalker is more interested in resolving things than setting up new ones so that gives it a little more drive than previous entries. The film faces saga-long conflicts head on, and the resolution is satisfying, but only as finite as future filmmakers decide it is. After all, this film returned to an enemy thought resolved long ago too, so enjoy the “end” for now, until the next one.