Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

It’s never easy to end a trilogy of films, let alone a trilogy of trilogies, but that’s exactly what Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker attempts to do. It’s meant to be an ending for the end, well for the time being at least until Disney inevitably announces another sequel or prequel that will continue the story. After all, no franchise truly ends so long as the money continues to come in. Rather than bring the plot to a logical conclusion, however, The Rise of Skywalker is more interested in delivering moments of spectacle and fan service, whether they make any sense or not. It’s a rushed film that force throws everything at the screen, resulting in a lackluster ending that goes out with a whimper instead of a bang.


Following the events of The Last Jedi, it turns out that Emperor Palpatine is alive and has been the one pulling the strings this entire time, building a secret fleet of star destroyers that will crush the Resistance and end the Jedi once and for all. Rey, along with Finn and Poe, is tasked by General Leia to find a way that will lead them to Palpatine’s location in the far reaches of uncharted space. Meanwhile the now Supreme Leader Kylo Ren is determined to kill her and anyone else who stands in his way of obtaining all the powers of the Dark Side. In the constant war between Jedi and Sith, this is where it all ends.


The Rise of Skywalker is a rushed and bloated film that seems more concerned with big reveals than actual plot points that make any sense. Palpatine is alive! It’s never really explained how he survived his fall down the reactor shaft in Return of the Jedi but he’s alive so you better act amazed. There’s also the introduction of new Force powers that come and go without any thought given to them so long as they serve whatever plot is happening at that current moment. Of course Rey’s parentage is brought up once again, which feels like JJ Abrams is trying to backpedal on what The Last Jedi established. This is supposed to be the film that everything has been building up to and yet most reveals feel like they come out of left field. That’s due to the fact that there isn’t one cohesive element that is central to the trilogy. It’s difficult to talk about without directly going into spoilers, but little in The Rise of Skywalker feels earned. Rather than build upon what’s already been established, The Rise of Skywalker feels like it’s trying to fix the past in any way possible. 


As ridiculous as the plot is, I still found myself captivated by the film’s visuals and action set pieces. The lightsaber duels between Rey and Kylo Ren are fantastic and thrilling. The characters themselves are wonderful too, such as the return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian. Even newcomers like Kerri Russell’s Zorri Bliss and the adorable Babu Frik have some great moments. Of course seeing Carrie Fisher on screen one last time is quite the tearjerker as well. It really is amazing that they were able to make something work out of all the unused footage they had.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is my least favorite film of the new trilogy. It’s a film that’s full of exposition that leads nowhere and mindless plot points that resolve nothing except to seem to say, “is this what you wanted?” Sure, it brings the franchise to a conclusion but you can’t help but feel the massive gaps in the path it took to get there. The Rise of Skywalker ends on anything but a high note.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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