In a series as vast as Star Wars with multiple timelines, comic books, films and videos games, pulling off a finale for the third time is no easy task. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the so-called “last” stand as the galaxy-spaning war comes to a climactic finale. We have watched Rey grow from a deserted scavenger to a full-fledged Jedi and the final movie in the series is more of a personal adventure for not only her but all main characters we have met so far.
This review contains no direct story spoilers from the film but does touch on a few plot points that some may classify as a spoiler. Proceed at your own risk
To some extent, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker follows much in the path of the original Revenge of the Sith. The sheer scale of its impending war is felt in almost every scene and Rey’s inner conflict is a major theme throughout the film. Every question we have asked is answered and much of the loose ends are tied up in the most gorgeous-looking Star Wars film ever made. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker successfully delivers a finale that will satisfy those who have been watching the films for years. Sure, it will most likely get some hate from hardcore fans for its plot holes but generally speaking, I felt at ease after the credits rolled.
For the most part, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker does a great job ending it all. The movie could have easily be put into a “part one and part two” scenario but instead, the package is delivered in a somewhat hasty manner. It is almost as if there was a checklist of things it had to complete before the credits rolled – few deaths here, LGBT representation there, some comic book lore and the Star Wars jokes and charm we love from the series. This results in a viewing experience that feels rushed at times. So much so that you often don’t get enough time to take in the worlds, the story and the charming characters being shoved down your throat.
Much of the film is a necessary cleanup for the mess that The Last Jedi caused due to its deconstructed narrative path. J.J Abrams clearly wanted The Rise of Skywalker to answer the questions which we had been asking since The Force Awakens and for the most part, the film does just that. Is it delivered in the best way? Not really as a lot of Rey’s past felt a little underwhelming and predictable. It was less a revelation and more “I thought so”.
Where The Rise of Skywalker wowed me was in its lore which dates back way into the early comic book days. The return of the Sith, Palpatine and how it all ties together had me googling Star Wars lore well into the night after watching the film. Not only to confirm if the impossible was possible but to bathe in all the great side stories which I have missed out on because I don’t read the comics. There really is a lot to love from this aspect and I urge everyone to do the same after watching the movie. It opened up so many great theories in my mind and it made me realize how deep the Sith and the Jedi go.
While the underlying plot in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker does a great job delivering past lore and loads of comic book references, the screen time of the film was met with some rather disappointing moments. Much of the film is played out in a cat-and-mouse manner between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and their mysterious connection which allows them to fight each other while being in different locations felt overused and abused. This also means that much of the 141 minutes of the film is spent watching the two chase each other around and gets dull very fast.
The supporting cast does a great job holding their scenes together and the constant banter is as funny as ever. One character that I did not expect to be so funny was CP30 played by Anthony Daniels. Pay attention to him wherever possible as there is a lot to love about his role in the film. Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and the rest of the cast deliver compelling roles but they are not without their cheesy moments and after a while, you kind of get the feeling that they are going through the motions and their character growth is given the backseat in favour of Rey.
The film has a load of new characters which are great. Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell), and Jannah (Naomi Ackie) namely. Both don’t get enough screen time in my opinion and their backstories are barely touched on at all. Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and I will probably go to hell for saying this, was boring and one of the worst roles in the film. Her scenes are delivered in contextless and vague snippets with her dialogue being mostly made up of inspirational lines that felt overly done. It was, to be frank, a disservice to the late Carrie Fisher.
The Rise of Skywalker fails multiple times to deliver compelling moments and one of the most gut-wrenching is met with a casual takeback as the film trolls you in the worst way. These moments then damage the rest of the film’s most heightened scenes as you just expect the same treatment – laughing off heartbreak. It is a shame as the latest trilogy has had some of the most painful moments in the series and for the film to take a casual jab at loss and death destroyed much of the emotional ties I had with the films.
Of course, there is a lot to hate about the latest Star Wars film. You will sit and debate about its story for months to come but it does what it sets out to do. It answers those questions we have all had for years now and it develops ‘some’ of the characters to the point where you begin to care about them and where they will be going when the credits roll. It is also pretty to watch as every scene is filmed to the utmost perfection. Makeup is great, costumes are as iconic as ever and the CG is world-class. There is no shortage of production costs here and just seeing it all on screen is well worth the price of admission.
The last Star Wars movie is a flashy and emotional rollercoaster that is well worth the trip to the movies. It is far from perfect but to be able to tie up the journey so far is a service you owe yourself. There’s a great amount of Star Wars love to witness in the film even if some of it is delivered in the worst possible way. It has some of the weakest plot points in the series but for the most part, it is finally the end and you can take two hours out of your life to witness it. Well, for now at least until Disney needs to build a new theme park ride.