Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac
Written by: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, J. J. Abrams, and Chris Terrio
This review is completely spoiler-free, read on without worry.
The internet is still ablaze over the last entry in the new Star Wars trilogy, “The Last Jedi”. Like two sides of a turf war, there are those who think Rian Johnson’s take on the Star Wars franchise is an affront to humanity, and there are those who claim it is a subversive masterpiece. The reality, like most things, is that most people fall somewhere in the middle. So with J.J. Abrams returning to helm the final entry in the “Sequel Trilogy” that he started with The Force Awakens, one of the biggest questions is whether this new film would erase or rework the events of The Last Jedi. It is hard to talk about the final part of a trilogy without mentioning the previous two entries, but I don’t want to harp on The Last Jedi too much. I will say this though if you were looking for J.J. to come in and “get rid” of everything you didn’t like about The Last Jedi, you’re going to be disappointed. The Rise of Skywalker stands on its own merits as a film, while continuing to build on the themes present in The Last Jedi, and is an appropriate and beautiful ending to a 9 film, 42-year saga.
One of the benefits of being the third entry in this trilogy is that all of the main cast has found their footing as these characters. Rey, Finn, Poe, and the rest feel comfortable in their roles, and the characters onscreen feel like the fully realized versions of themselves that began their journey in The Force Awakens, none more so than Kylo Ren. Kylo has been the most complex and interesting character since the very beginning of this new trilogy, and this film doubles down on that. Kylo’s journey is fascinating and really showcases how Adam Driver has grown as an actor in the intervening years since The Force Awakens. But the rest of the cast pulls out amazing performances as well, all falling into their place in the tapestry of Star Wars.
The best parts of The Rise of Skywalker are the more quiet parts. There are incredibly human moments with these characters going through joy, sadness, rage, and loss. Every emotional beat hits like a truck and brings these characters full circle from where they began. That isn’t to say that there aren’t the amazing, over the top, bombastic action scenes that the franchise is known for. The Rise of Skywalker hits every major set piece you would want from a Star Wars film. There are grand-scale space battles, one on one laser sword fights, and daring last-minute escapes.
There are several scenes and events in the film that will without a doubt upset a lot of people. However, those that have been paying attention, and understand the groundwork and themes Star Wars has been built on since 1977 will appreciate how everything connects and interlocks in an immensely satisfying way. Surprise reveals, good versus evil, the bonds between family, blood-related or otherwise, this is Star Wars at the height of its powers. The film moves at a brisk pace and is without any sequences like the casino portion of The Last Jedi that, while narratively important, slowed the film to a crawl. For how much story this film has to get through, it is very lean and tight. Going into details would get too far into spoiler territory, but without saying too much the plot feels appropriate, both thematically and narratively, for the end of the Skywalker story.
There is very little to find wrong with The Rise of Skywalker, except by perhaps going into the nitty-gritty of Star Wars lore, but that is an exercise in futility that serves no purpose here. The only mark I can make against the film is that, after the fact, it feels a little TOO thematically similar to the original trilogy. But circular storytelling is built into Star Wars‘ DNA so it is a very small complaint that I can only levy against the film after completely enjoying myself for two and a half hours.
There are those that are not going to be pleased with The Rise of Skywalker regardless of what the film actually does or says. But for those willing to go along for the ride, The Rise of Skywalker is a funny, heartfelt, emotional, and satisfying conclusion to one of the biggest franchises of all time that feels satisfying and earned.
The Rise of Skywalker does not have any mid or post-credits scenes. Feel free to exit the theater when the credits start rolling.
The Rise of Skywalker pays respect to what came before it while forging its own path in a satisfying and emotionally powerful finale to the story that began a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…