We have come to the end of an era – the final film in the Star Wars Skywalker Saga is upon us. Now, while it is a bittersweet moment, we can be happy that this sequence of films is one that provided much joy (and at times discourse) for many loyal fans and viewers. Through the span of nine films, the Star Wars saga has provided filmgoers with some of the best excitement and action that’s ever been seen on the big screen, and also provided a plethora of memorable moments that audiences will likely continue to talk about for decades to come.
That being said, is Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker a worthy addition to the lore that began back in 1977 with Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope? Well, that is something that is up for interpretation. While I believe that The Rise of Skywalker will be enjoyed by some, there are also those who may take issue with some of the reveals and moments that happen throughout the film. So, I think it’s best to just dive right into where we left our beloved characters and the review.
*Please note that there are mild spoilers ahead that pertain to the plot of Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. Read further at your own discretion.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker finds our heroes just where we left them after the events of The Last Jedi. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega) and Chewie (Joonas Suotamo) are aboard the Millennium Falcon, on a mission to retrieve a message for General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and The Resistance. Of course, the journeys of our heroes have never been easy ones and this continues when the group are attacked by a fleet of TIE fighters. Needing a quick escape, Poe does what he does best and flies the crew to safety. In the meantime, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is continuing her Jedi training under the watchful eye and tutelage of General Leia. The two have created quite the bond, with Leia believing Rey capable of great things, if only she could get out of her own way – especially after her time with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
When Poe and Finn are reunited with Rey, of course the squabbling begins. Just like a trio of siblings, Rey and Poe argue about the state of both the Millennium Falcon and BB-8, while Finn does his best to try to keep the peace. However, it seems as if it’s a lost cause, specifically when Poe decides to let Rey know how he truly feels about her staying behind to continue her Jedi training, when she is the best fighter they have. Torn between wanting to fight and continuing her training, Rey ultimately has to choose which of these two things will benefit the Resistance? Yes, of course she wants to fight alongside her family, but she also knows that to defeat this great evil, she cannot fail her training. There is so much more for her to learn and there is so much more to lose.
Ren is on his own mission – one that has him more in tune with the Dark Side more than ever before. The First Order is currently on top of the food chain, but Kylo knows that The Resistance can still provide many challenges – specifically with the last Jedi, Rey and his mother, General Leia in the midst of it all. Ren is still battling his demons, including the unrelenting memory of what he did to his father, Han Solo (Harrison Ford). So, while it seems that the Dark Side still entices Ren, the struggle between good and evil still war within him.
All of this leads to a pivotal point: the return of Sith Lord, Emperor Palpatine. While Palpatine was thought to be dead, it was revealed in the The Rise of Skywalker trailers that the nefarious villain who has plagued the galaxy for years was set to make his reappearance. The Emperor’s return does not disappoint and many secrets will come to be revealed throughout the rest of the film. But for now, I will leave off right here because, well, you’ll just have to see the film for yourselves to see just what happens next.
The Rise of Skywalker is certainly one, if not the most-anticipated film this year, and it makes sense to close out the decade with something as huge as the end of one of the most prestigious franchises in history. While it is right to meet the end of the Skywalker Saga with pomp and circumstance, I will have to admit that I think this film is one of the weakest in terms of dialogue/storyline, and definitely the weakest of the newest trilogy. There is something about these three movies that do not entirely mesh well and a cohesiveness missing that both the original and prequel trilogies did much better. There were things I was hoping to get out of the film that I didn’t and some choices that left me scratching my head (or cringing about) in the theatre. This, in addition to the development (or lack thereof) for certain characters in the new installments, is ultimately what made The Rise of Skywalker fall a bit short for me.
Without going into much detail or giving too much away, other than Rey, most of the other women in the film serve little to no purpose, other than helping their male counterparts get out of a bind and some of the women who I hoped would have bigger roles, were simply just there as filler (for the most part). Of course, I also know that films come with a time restraint, but I just wish that perhaps the time would have been used a little more wisely. It was disappointing to see considering the actresses in said roles certainly have way more to offer than the script that they were given. I was exceptionally disappointed that most of the women also happened to be women of colour, but here’s hoping I get to see much more of them outside the world of Star Wars.
However, The Rise of Skywalker still managed to pull off some moments of brilliance – including some touching scenes shared by Rey and Leia, some great battle scenes (specifically some of the light saber fight choreography), the theme of chosen family, and many moments of fan service (maybe a tad too much), that will likely please viewers. In addition, the film was visually stunning. Whether on a desert-like planet or flying about in the star speckled galaxy, it was clear that every scene was created with painstaking attention to detail. While the sum of the final product didn’t leave me completely satisfied or surprised, there were still a lot of moments that I was not expecting – whether I liked some of the unexpected moments, however, is something else entirely. I can’t help but feel a little disappointed by some of the choices that were made because I suppose I was foolishly hoping for more, and also hoping that one very specific moment (you’ll likely know which scene I mean when you’ve seen the film) could have been changed or left on the cutting room floor. But, it is what it is.
All-in-all, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker wasn’t my idea of a fitting end to a franchise many of us have grown up with and loved. While I don’t believe it was a perfect film, they still managed to incorporate some near-perfect moments that were certainly a culmination and ode to the Star Wars films (both new and old).