Successfully tying up a movie trilogy is an incredibly tall order. In the history of cinema, the third chapter is almost always a letdown from the previous two. So director J.J. Abrams had at least three times the challenge with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The film not only serves as the concluding chapter of the sequel trilogy but ties up the entire nine-part Skywalker saga. Even with a 142-minute runtime, the film could never hope to please everyone or even do right by every character in its extensive cast.
However, here are the five characters most under-served by Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
5. General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher)
We start our list with the most obvious one. Of course, the late Carrie Fisher — who was supposed to take center stage in The Rise of Skywalker — doesn’t get nearly enough to do here. After all, Abrams and his Star Wars team only had eight minutes of footage from The Force Awakens to work from.
Rather than leaving Leia out entirely, the film’s script was retrofitted to incorporate archival footage of Fisher. So The Rise of Skywalker retains at least the essence of what we assume was Leia’s arc. But Leia still feels disconnected from the action around her. At least it’s better than nothing.
4. General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson)
In The Force Awakens, General Hux was just another dry, Imperial-style military man. But The Last Jedi explores his bizarre competition with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his resentment toward the former Jedi. The Rise of Skywalker then gives Abrams a fun Star Wars dynamic to build upon.
While the film does feature the return of Hux, it doesn’t do nearly enough with him. The character’s story takes an interesting turn but isn’t given enough room to pursue the promise it so briefly offers. In a story as epic as The Rise of Skywalker, sacrifices — like Hux’s story — must be made, sadly.
3. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)
In The Last Jedi, Hamill delivers a career-best performance as Luke Skywalker. That emotional finale — which saw the Jedi Master become one with the Force — set the stage for him to be a guiding hand. Yet, The Rise of Skywalker barely uses Luke, save for an unsatisfying cameo appearance.
Fans never get to see him live up to his promise to Kylo Ren — apparently, he won’t “see you around, kid” — or counsel Rey much either. Even worse, Hamill’s role here at times feels like both a bitter reversal of his powerful arc in The Last Jedi and an unnecessary callback to a Star Wars highlight.
2. Maz Kanata (voiced by Lupita Nyong’o)
Lupita Nyong’o has had a tremendous year. In Us, the Oscar-winning actress delivered two mesmerizing performances, and she headlined the underrated horror-comedy Little Monsters. But Star Wars fans were looking forward to what Maz Kanata would do in the final entry of the sequels.
The answer? Not very much. Maz is clearly part of the Resistance, but aside from some brief expository dialogue serving Leia’s storyline, she doesn’t factor in much at all. Considering how The Force Awakens introduced her, it’s a shame Nyong’o never got the chance to have more fun with the role.
1. Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran)
Love it or hate it, The Last Jedi definitely challenged the Star Wars franchise. Writer/director Rian Johnson’s ambitious storytelling is, in many small and not-so-small ways, quietly walked back in The Rise of Skywalker. But perhaps the most egregious example of the film’s kowtowing to its critics is its treatment of Rose Tico.
We’re not saying Rose should have been the crux of this final installment in the sequel trilogy. The film chooses to hone in on the main trio of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac). But The Rise of Skywalker goes out of its way to not only sideline but silence Rose. We love Lost‘s Dominic Monaghan, but his lines and Resistance role should’ve been Rose’s.