Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – Review

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Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, the final film of the Skywalker saga, as its been named, hits theaters this Friday. I had an opportunity to screen it in advance and have some thoughts on where things went. The resistance continues to fight against the First Order, but is finding their support dwindling. Meanwhile Leia continues to train Rey in the ways of the Jedi.

Now for a quick view of the movie trailer before I jump into the review. Warning that while I do my best to keep the review mostly spoiler free, you may wish to wait until you have seen the film before reading my review.

What we liked

The lightsaber battles are an iconic part of the Star Wars universe. The Rise of Skywalker didn’t disappoint in this area. The movie used some creative ‘force’ scenes to bring out a newly engaging way to watch a light saber battle. Of course those are not the only new things that appeared in the film. We got flying stormtroopers! In general stormtroopers continued to be mostly cannon fodder, which is sad because the previous 2 films (TFA, TLJ) introduced us to some pretty beefed up troopers to fight with. Where were they?

Unlike the previous two films, The Rise of Skywalker didn’t ‘force’ feed us a Disney agenda. The story and overall feel of the film stayed grounded in the world of Star Wars, instead of jumping out with a noticeable agenda. There were several moments towards the middle of the film where some familiar faces made us feel like kids again. And of those moments several made me emotional and I think will for you too. This is one area that I felt the film excelled the most in. While the amount of new characters is limited, the ones we do get serve a small purpose. Some are memorable, others grow another just a little.

The tradition of stunning set pieces continued in this third film. Whether it was Empire wreckage of a war long past or unknown worlds that come to the forefront, the set design and visuals leave you in awe. In many ways some of these scenes were throw backs to The Force Awakens, in a good way. Others took us even further back to A New Hope. In this way, the final Star Wars film of the Skywalker Saga left me satisfied with the end of a long Saga in the Star Wars universe.

What didn’t work

The Rise of Skywalker was in some ways a course correction of the last 2 films due to the outcry towards The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. However, this correction went too far in some places and not far enough in others. When you want to provide nostalgia towards the original 3 films, you have to balance it with new story, new characters and new audiences. The Rise of Skywalker came off unbalanced in this regard. Some points in the film had the perfect touch of call back to the original films. While other parts felt like it was being force fed down your throat. They either needed to tone it back overall or go head deep all the way. It felt rushed.

It’s no secret that the Emperor has returned. Speculation on how has raged online leading up to the films release. I won’t spoil anything specific here but the writers dropped the ball big time on this story plot. His return, how he survived, and where he has been were glossed over. Yet on the flip side we spent far too much time on technology and gadgets that meant nothing to us up until this film. We were expected to simply accept it and move on. It felt like an entire movie of backstory was missing. Whats worse is that they make claims to it all being there and planned but provide nothing that ties it back to the other films.

Then we get to the epic battles. Star Wars has always been good at showing us how many cultures and worlds come together to fight the empire and win against the dark side. The Rise of Skywalker rushes things and takes no time to show us any of that. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for a repeat of Return Of the Jedi. This is at the core of what makes Star Wars great and it was missing that part of its heart. Even when the story attempts to provide emotional scenes of character deaths, we are left unmoved. By the time we start to have a reaction, they reverse things again. This back and forth rushed see-saw continued for most of the film. It made for a very anti-climatic feeling throughout those scenes.

The Sum Up

The Rise of Skywalker fixed some issues from the previous two films of the modern trilogy but found itself lost in its own attempt to please everyone. Missed details, rushed scenes and an overall muted celebration of the saga’s end. I liked it, but didn’t fall in love with it. There are certainly worse ways to end a saga as big as Star Wars or that has spanned as many generations. However, there was so much more potential that was left on the table.

We give The Rise of Skywalker a solid “See It” to wrap up the Skywalker Saga of Star Wars.

Robert Prentice