SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
For over 40 years, Star Wars has been one of the most popular series in the world. The original trilogy came out of nowhere and took the world by storm in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Then, the prequel trilogy fumbled the series’ return to the mainstream in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Now, the sequel trilogy has just finished the newly-named “Skywalker Saga” in a less than satisfactory way. The most recent movie, The Rise of Skywalker, gives a disjointed and unsatisfactory end to the sequel trilogy.
The sequel trilogy has always been criticized because of the heavy nostalgia in its first entry. While The Force Awakens used nostalgia to reintroduce people to Star Wars, The Rise of Skywalker pulls out all the stops from old characters to tropes from Legends (the old stories before Disney bought Star Wars) to appease fans. It isn’t objectively bad, as some returning characters like Lando Calrissian are treated very well, but after the way The Last Jedi challenged many of the established ideas in the original series, it feels like Disney wanted to play it safe.
There is a lot of backpedaling from The Last Jedi, especially on its major revelations like Rey’s parenthood and Snoke’s failure, which feels disingenuous to what director Rian Johnson was trying to do. The Rise of Skywalker’s story feels like it’s a sequel to a version of The Last Jedi we never saw, as it answers previously answered questions in different ways, some of which are unsatisfying. The dramatic reveal of Rey’s lack of relation to anybody famous in The Last Jedi makes both Rey and the viewer confused about her place in the story at that point. But here it’s revealed, out of almost nowhere, that she actually did matter the whole time, and her grandfather was Emperor Palpatine.
Emperor Palpatine may be one of the worst things delivered by The Rise of Skywalker. It’s revealed that he came back to life offscreen, with no explanation. In addition, he has a fleet of ships with the power of the Death Star that were conveniently hidden. It also turns out that Snoke, who was Kylo Ren’s mysterious master, was just an imperfect clone of Palpatine, rather than someone unique to the story. Palpatine was brought in out of nowhere for the conclusion, and the rushed decision shows greatly due to how sloppily his return is handled. There were already two great villains in the duo of Kylo Ren and General Hux, but the former falls under the orders of another evil leader until getting stabbed and redeeming himself, and the latter is killed in his second scene in the movie.
It would be wrong to say that The Rise of Skywalker was a wholly bad movie, or that I didn’t like it at all. It had some incredible fight scenes, the effects were the best the series has ever had, and John Williams made sure he went out with a bang in regards to the score. One of the best things from the sequel trilogy is the growth of new powers of the Force that hadn’t been seen before. Throughout each movie the Force was able to do something new, but it never felt like it came out of nowhere or would instantly solve the heroes’ problems.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker had an ambitious goal, to wrap up not only the story of the sequel trilogy, but of the Skywalker Saga itself. However, it didn’t deliver strongly on both of its goals due to its focusing on reversing ideas from the previous movie. It rushed in a new villain and tried to rewrite two movies worth of events in one movie. The Rise of Skywalker succeeds in the goal of having fun scenes and cool fights, but if you’re looking for something more than that artistically or story-wise, The Rise of Skywalker fails to deliver. However, there are people who think that The Rise of Skywalker is a fulfilling finale. Let us know how you feel in the comments below!