"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" (2019) Review
An Entertaining Conclusion, but It Still Feels Hollow
Star Wars has almost become as controversial as politics. Talking about your feelings towards this franchise can sometimes lead to an insult-filled argument, especially on the internet. I'm sure Disney was not expecting the fandom to get this bad when they started to develop their own trilogy of movies. While some people have loved the new films, others have a strong hatred towards them. This divide became very strong after The Last Jedi. The divide after The Last Jedi created such a rift in the fandom that Disney brought back JJ Abrams to hopefully finish off the trilogy strongly. Unfortunately, this film fails to stick the landing as it tries way too hard to make fans happy.
After the events of The Last Jedi, the resistance finds themselves weakened and on the run from the evil first order. Kylo Ren continues his galactic search for the resistance force. However, an old face rears its ugly head and brings an even greater threat that tests Rey, Finn, Poe, and the rest of the resistance. Rey must use everything she has learned from the force to take on the dark side of the force and defeat it once and for all.
The one thing that the new Star Wars movies have brought us are exciting action sequences and this one continues that trend. With cool action set pieces like a lightsaber battle in the ocean with waves crashing and a high-speed chase in the desert, there are very entertaining moments throughout. It is extremely fast-paced, so the film is never boring as it does not really slow down. It is over two hours but you never feel the length.
I also really like the new characters that these films have established, especially Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Kylo Ren, throughout the trilogy, has had the most interesting character arc as he internally struggles between the light and the dark. In this film, he still has the most interesting arc and Driver does a great job with this character. Ridley also does a great job with Rey as she explores more about who she is and her place in the galaxy. The bond and chemistry between Driver and Rey is particularly great and probably the strongest element of this movie. John Boyega also does a good job as Finn as well as Oscar Isaac as Poe, who continue their journeys from the last films.
There are a couple of new characters as well, including Babu Frik and a new droid, D-O. They were both welcome additions and provided some good humor to this film. C-3PO also has a much larger role in this film than he did in the last film and it is always great to get more of Anthony Daniels as this character. Carrie Fisher does appear as Leia through footage that had been previously shot, but the film handles it well. It is respectful, doesn't feel uncomfortable, and they do give a good tribute not only to Leia but to Fisher herself.
The story for this movie is extremely convoluted and often brings up more questions instead of answering them. There were many questions that people had after The Last Jedi, mainly who is Rey and who is Snoke? Both of these are answered but in such lazily written ways that they are not only revealed way too quickly, but also open up huge plot holes that create even more questions from past films. The film definitely tried to redo some of the things that people didn't like about Last Jedi, which the film should not have done. It does not create a sense of continuity for this trilogy. A lot of the ideas set up in Last Jedi are now either ignored or not expanded upon.
Also, minor spoiler alert (even though Disney has been showing it in trailers), the emperor is back in this movie. Unfortunately, most of the stuff involving the emperor did not work for me. Again, it brings up way too many questions and feels completely forced into this movie in order to create a new villain. However, it is always great to see Ian McDiarmid as the emperor, so it is not all bad. He steps into the role after 14 years seamlessly.
There are two new characters who are also not given much to do and appear very briefly in the film. They also only feel like pieces of development for Poe and Finn and really come out of nowhere. Speaking of Finn, as much as I like him as a character, they don't give him a lot to do, which feels like a waste as he has an interesting arc.
This film is trying to tackle way too much by not only having to be a conclusion to this trilogy but to the nine-movie Skywalker saga itself, and honestly, it doesn't really feel like a satisfying ending to either. The film thinks that it's taking risks, but it's only catering to what fans wanted, so it doesn't feel earned as this was not the direction that the trilogy was going. It doesn't explain a lot, feels rushed, and opens up a lot of plot holes.
This trilogy was a mess. It feels like it wasn't well planned out and kept having to make changes after different directors took the story in different directions. While I do think this trilogy is a lot better than the prequels, especially one and two, at least the prequels had a set direction for where they wanted to end up. Rise of Skywalker is the weakest of the three films as the script has way too many problems and unanswered questions. While The Last Jedi had problems, at least it took chances and created new, interesting ideas that had never been seen in Star Wars before. It still is Star Wars and as a Star Wars fan, I was still very entertained and never bored. However, after thinking about the film, I only became more frustrated with this film, not only because of the plot holes, but also because of how much better this trilogy could have been.