The Finale

Review of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”


Photo courtesy of IMDb

Story by Grey Johnson, staff writer

In a land not so far away and around 40 years ago, “Star Wars” launched onto the big screen with a success like no other. It touched the lives of many and changed the film industry forever. After its revival in 1999, many were reintroduced to the beloved franchise. In 2015, “Star Wars” returned yet again to tell a story, one that has been brewing since the ‘70s, and it finally comes to a conclusion in the newest installment, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” 

The newer movies in the universe have been met with much criticism. “The Force Awakens” was generally well received, but took backlash for not taking any risks and playing it safe by copying “A New Hope.” “The Last Jedi,” however, had the complete opposite problem– it took way too many risks, splitting the Star Wars fandom. 

“The Last Jedi” tore down much of what “The Force Awakens” built up: Rey’s past, Luke Skywalker’s mysterious disappearance, the powerful Supreme Leader Snoke. The movie also broke many of the most basic logic barriers in the rules of the universe. It seemed as if writer Rian Johnson gave little to no regard on his effect on the universe all in an attempt to “subvert expectations.”

With all this in mind, it seemed as if “The Rise of Skywalker” was doomed to fail. J.J. Abrams is a good director, but the task of saving “Star Wars” was impossible. Despite all this, Abrams overcame and produced a good “Star Wars” movie.

The newest film addresses almost every problem that was present in the previous two movies. From its style, to its execution, to its story, it improves a lot.

Whereas “The Force Awakens” took no risks and “The Last Jedi” took all the wrong risks, “The Rise of Skywalker” takes risks in areas that allow it to stand apart from the other movies, while remaining true to the parts that make “Star Wars” what it is, like its central themes.

No time is wasted as the plot kicks into action immediately after the text disappears from the screen. The audience is greeted by an old, evil, familiar face as Abrams begins the damage control in the first few minutes. 

Almost all the questions posed in “The Force Awakens” are answered. Many problems in “The Last Jedi” are fixed, such as Luke’s attitude or a certain hyperspace maneuver that many fans hated. Abrams went through and fixed as much as he could.

Along with fixing old problems, the new ideas that the film introduces coincide well with all of the previous films. The Emperor and his master plan are written to explain previous gaps in the “Star Wars” mythos and even expand to add a whole new way to view the space opera.

Despite this praise, the movie isn’t perfect. The pacing can be really bad at times by including scenes that have little to no relevance. At other times, the pace suffers due to Abrams sending the plot into lightspeed so he can hit all the points he needs to hit to make his idea work. 

Some of the logic in the movie is also questionable. Fans will stare at the screen in shock of some stupid decisions or leaps in logic the movie makes to arrive at its goal: some more than others.

The directing is decent. There are some masterfully shot scenes along with some really confusing angles. The first act has really awful action scenes, as they were shot in a way that makes the audience feel as if they are watching “Jason Bourne” in space. This gets better later on, but even then some of the fight scenes feel too easy for the good guys.

The destination that Abrams set course for is a good ending, but the journey there is pretty rough at times. The Rise of Skywalker would be much better had The Last Jedi never existed and Abrams got to expand his ideas in the new film across two movies instead of one.

Out of everything that Abrams did, the most commendable thing was the final act. For this to conclude the entire “Star Wars” saga, the end game had to be intense and relevant, and Abrams delivered on that.

The ending is connected to not only the original trilogy, but to the prequel trilogy as well. The stakes are higher than ever, but it’s not to an unbelievable degree. The end of this movie truly feels like the end to the Skywalker saga. 

Abrams was given a tough task. Many have heavily criticized the Disney era of Star Wars, myself among them, but the new movie is different from the rest. “The Rise of Skywalker” is far from perfect, but, given the bad situation that gave birth to it, the movie was the best it could be.