“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, and Carrie Fisher. Released on December 20, 2019, the film has Rey and her friends attempting to defeat the First Order for good.
The film is directed by J. J. Abrams, who also directed films such as “Mission: Impossible III”, “Star Trek”, “Super 8”, and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. It is the third film in the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy and the final episode of the nine-part “Skywalker Saga”. It’s times like this where all good things must come to an end. This, my friends, is that time. After more than 40 years of lightsaber duels, Skywalkers, and Darth Vaders, the saga has reached its stunning conclusion. Although this doesn’t mean the franchise is coming to a close too as we’ll be getting more of that “Star Wars” goodness in the near future. Until then, let’s take a moment to see our favorite characters one last time. It wasn’t that long ago when “Star Wars” made its fantastic return to the big screen with the first chapter in its sequel trilogy, “The Force Awakens”, and continued its dominance with Rian Johnson’s divisive episode, “The Last Jedi”. While those films were very well-received by critics and performed extremely well at the box office, it didn’t take us that long to find out that most of the fans weren’t really happy with what they’ve seen so far, with “The Last Jedi” being the one that really got them all riled up. That situation alone, in my honest opinion, made me lose my respect for the “Star Wars” community in a heartbeat. But I don’t feel like talking about that. I want to talk about the conclusion to a 42-year-old story arc that started with a young boy who grew up to become one of the most iconic movie villains of all time. So far, I extremely enjoyed every single minute of “The Force Awakens” and I still think that “The Last Jedi” is great because of the risks it took to create a fresh story, so now it’s time for me to see if this final showdown can impress me just as much as the last two chapters. Get your lightsabers ready. It’s about to get epic.
The story is set one year after the events of “The Last Jedi”, where Rey (Ridley) is continuing her Jedi training under General Leia (Fisher). Meanwhile, the sinister Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) rises from the dead with a plan to finally conquer the galaxy. Oh, and Kylo Ren (Driver) is helping him, in case you’re unaware. With her friends, old and new, by her side, including Finn (Boyega), Poe (Isaac), and the adorable little droid BB-8, Rey will have to face the ultimate test in order to bring peace to the galaxy and end the ever-lasting war between the Resistance and the First Order once and for all. There was a lot of stuff that J. J. Abrams had to accomplish in order to make “The Rise of Skywalker” work. Not only was he tasked to create a spectacular and emotional finale to the main story arc, but he also had to create a story that’s convincing enough to get fans that were extremely displeased with “The Last Jedi” back in their seats. How, you may ask? Two words: fan service. The last two “Star Wars” episodes had a habit of reintroducing old characters from the other films, mostly the original trilogy, and this film is unsurprisingly no exception. The film sees the return of some other old characters from the past, including Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Palpatine, who was supposed to be dead in “Return of the Jedi”. Was being thrown into the Death Star’s core not good enough for your demise, Mr. Former Sith Emperor? There were also some other characters that made an appearance somehow, but I’m not going to tell who they were because spoilers. This strategy worked well in “The Force Awakens”. Unfortunately, in “Rise of Skywalker”, it kind of wore itself thin after the first introduction of Lando. To me, it felt like J. J. Abrams went back to the formula that worked in “The Force Awakens” instead of taking full advantage of what Rian Johnson introduced in “The Last Jedi” when it comes to the storytelling. The film did reference the events of the previous episode, but it looked like it didn’t do that much else besides heading into familiar territory from time to time, fearing that it will wind up sharing the same fate as “The Last Jedi” in terms of fan reception. The emotional stakes weren’t nearly as high as the ones from the other big franchise finales like “Harry Potter” and “Avengers: Endgame”, and the plot twists didn’t quite work well in its favor because it kept sticking to the traditional narrative that worked in the original trilogy. It’s very frustrating to see the film relying on nostalgia again in order to please the fans, and I’m pretty sure that most people might feel the same way. Other than that, it’s basically “Revenge of the Sith”. A solid, yet flawed, ending to a “Star Wars” trilogy. While the story didn’t quite match the epic scale of its dazzling set pieces and its entertaining action sequences, it was able to deliver a satisfying closure to some of the characters both old and new, particularly Rey and Kylo Ren, who were portrayed marvelously by Ridley and Driver respectively. For Rey, it was her journey of self-discovery, and for Kylo, it was his internal conflict between the light and the dark, which is still one of the best parts of the new trilogy in my opinion. The execution on Kylo’s ending did suffer from a case of deja vu, but I found his closure to be well-earned and respectable. As for Finn, he already had his closure back in “The Last Jedi”, so there’s not that much left for him to do in this one. Ian McDiarmid was also really good as the villainous Palpatine. It goes to show that McDiarmid still hasn’t lost his touch after being absent for more than a decade. Like the last two “Star Wars” installments, “The Rise of Skywalker” worked wonders in the technical aspects, especially its mixture of practical and CGI effects and the cinematography. There were a few moments that definitely earned its cinematic scale, like the film’s final act, although I wouldn’t say that they were as memorable as the ones from the other “Star Wars” films.
Overall, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” fails to be the “Endgame” of the “Star Wars” franchise, but it’s an entertaining and visually stunning finale that brings the 42-year-old story arc to a close. The force isn’t strong enough to push away its frustrating narrative choices and its lack of high stakes. However, that doesn’t mean it’s as horrible as the “Star Wars” holiday special that no one wants to mention. The cast did really well with their performances, the action was tense and entertaining, the visuals were breathtaking, and the story was suitable enough to bring closure to the Skywalker saga as well as some of the characters that were involved. It’s a step down from the previous two, but nowhere near as headache-inducing as the prequel trilogy. If you’re a fan of “Star Wars”, there’s plenty to like in this one. It’s not a “rush out to see” type of film, but it’s something that will definitely satisfy your science-fiction needs. With all that said, thank you all for reading my honest opinion on the new “Star Wars” film, have yourself a great holiday break, and may the force be with you.
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