Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters around the globe. This final chapter in the Skywalker Saga wraps up a story that has been 42 years in the making. Through the course of the 42 to years, this story has been built on by first George Lucas and team and then later Kathleen Kennedy’s team. The entire time, there has been controversy so it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is getting its fair share as well. With that being said, this is a spoiler-free review of this Star Wars film (You can see our spoiler-filled review here).
Before I get into the review though, I have a few thoughts on reviews in general. When reviewing a movie it is a good thing to think about what one likes and dislikes. It is actually ok to dislike portions of a movie, or a movie in general. It is ok to disagree with where a filmmaker decided to go with a story as well. What isn’t ok is to decide that because one doesn’t agree with where the movie went that it is a bad movie. What’s even less ok is to attack the film and those who made it or decide to watch it. The same goes for the opposite as well. Rational people can agree to disagree and have fantastic discussions about their disagreements. Recognize that people put their hearts and soul into their craft and should be given some respect for that. You would not want your life’s work ripped apart. As fans, we shouldn’t do this to others as well.
I would encourage those who dislike certain movies, or sections of movies, to state their dislike in a respectful well thought out way. Be kind with criticisms. More people will hear it that way. Use the criticisms and disagreements to bring people together, not divide. Use critical thinking and criticisms to create conversations that develop relationships, not destroy. At the end of the day, we are fans. We need to remember this.
With that, I will get off my soapbox and share my thoughts about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
This movie picks up quite some time after Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Both the First Order and Resistance have been pursuing their goals. With the start of this movie, both sides have grown in different ways but still have quite a ways to go. As the movie moves forward, it is all about the pursuit of those goals that basically boil down to figuring out who each character is and what is important to them. The movie pushes this forward throughout the entire story fairly effectively. Throw in the fact that Carrie Fisher was not on hand to film and previously shot footage that wasn’t used for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was utilized to tell her story and this story becomes even more impressive! By the end of the film, each character has moved to a different place. With this, character discoveries are made. Some of them are good, some bad, some are happy, and others heartbreaking. The one thing that is consistent is that most of the characters move forward in one way or another in this film.
The overarching story continues and finishes the story that was first seen in 1977. I can’t imagine the choices that were made throughout the course of the development of this film. It was supposed to be a movie built around Carrie Fisher, and her loss was a game-changer. That being said, I found the overall storyline of the film to be quite enjoyable. There was ONE moment in the film that I felt was unnecessary and if they had cut out one action for one part of one scene, I would probably find myself loving this film even more. However, that story decision is one I can guarantee that me and my friends will be talking about for years to come as we analyze and over-analyze it. I’m hoping there will be a bonus feature in the home entertainment release that will give some backstory to the decision and maybe change my mind a little bit… if that is possible.
The pacing for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was a little bit bumpy. The first third of the film seemed to race along. At times, it almost felt like there were too many things trying to be crammed into one movie. However, as the film progressed things steadied out and I forgot about how much the beginning of the movie seemed to race along. Once it did steady out, I really enjoyed the pacing of the film. Thankfully, the pacing issues were more towards the beginning of the film and not the end.
The characters in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker were, in some ways, more enjoyable than any in this recent trilogy. Without giving anything away, we learn a lot more about a lot of characters and their backstories. I found this to be very enjoyable. One of the stars of the film is definitely C-3P0. While I have always been a fan of 3P0, I never thought I would be so invested in him as I was in this film. Traditionally, he has generally been more of the comic relief character. He does a lot more in this film. I loved learning more about Poe, Finn, and Rey in this movie. I definitely felt like I understood all of them a whole lot more. The same could be said for Kylo Ren as well. The return of Lando was also very satisfying in this film. Watching General Leia was heartbreaking. J.J. Abrams did a fantastic job with what he was given and it is hard to not wonder what could have been. Then there is Palpatine. I really liked what this film did with him. It was a fantastic, and surprising, continuation of a character we thought we had said goodbye to. I would love if a future animated series explored his return to power, much as Star Wars: The Clone Wars dug into Darth Maul’s continued story after his apparent death in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
My biggest character criticism is focused on that of Rose. I would like to have seen a whole lot more development in Rose. This is a personal preference. I recognize that there is only so much time in a movie and one can only do so much. With that in mind, Abrams probably made the right choice with how he approached things. However, I just think it probably was a missed opportunity. She could have gotten the same screen time, same story movement, and maybe just have some more story development? I’m not entirely sure how this would have been done so maybe that is why it wasn’t. I just would like more. So maybe a future book, TV show, or movie that this could happen in?
I did like the addition of several new characters in this film. This includes D-0 (the biggest surprise for me!), Jannah, Zorii Bliss, Allegiant General Pryde, and of course the Knights of Ren. None of these seemed to be gimmicky which I was very thankful for. I was concerned about that with our little droid friend. However, within seconds of being introduced to him, I was sold. The others all made sense and added to the progression of the story.
Overall, I was happy with the characters that were included in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and most of the character choices made.
John Williams has been telling the story of Star Wars through music for over four decades. It is nearly impossible to think of Star Wars without thinking of the music he has created for it. In a word, it is iconic. This score pulls elements that were found throughout those four decades, while also creating some new themes. It was hard to not get excited hearing certain themes during the movie. Since first seeing it, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack nonstop. There are some incredible musical moments in it and I’m discovering new things each time I listen to it. The cantina music that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote is also a lot of fun. All this to say, the music did exactly what it is supposed to do in a Star Wars movie and I’m thankful for that.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is an enjoyable film that wraps up the Skywalker Saga. I, for one, really enjoyed it. I also recognized that it isn’t the “best” Star Wars film. At the moment, I am not sure it is even in my top three favorite Star Wars films. However, it is a good film. It also does exactly what it needs to do. It is the final chapter of a book that has been over four decades in the writing. It effectively gets us fans to the final chapter where it says “the end” and the book is closed. This is a monumental feat that I have to take my hat off to Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and all who were involved in this film for. They did a wonderful job creating a farewell film for the Skywalker Saga.
This is in no way a perfect Star Wars film. On the flip side, I have yet to see a perfect Star Wars film (there are a couple that are close). Each film seems to have its moments of controversy. A lot of them have some cringeworthy moments (will we look at sand the same ever again!?). As I reflect on the nine films in the Skywalker Saga, I think of moments of bad acting, ridiculous dialogue, less than stellar effects, changes that were liked or disliked, and even some controversial characters. However, all of these imperfections are what make me love Star Wars so much. Star Wars is an epic story about imperfect people all attempting to make the world around them a better place in their own way. Star Wars is about the battle between good and evil with the hope that good will win out in the end. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stays true to this basic premise.
It is very easy to give a solid hat tip to this movie. I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see it again (hopefully multiple times) in theaters. I also can’t wait to see all of the extras that are released when it is released for our home entertainment enjoyment!
What did you think of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? What were its strengths? What were its weaknesses? What was your favorite part? Share your spoiler-free thoughts in the comments below! If you’d like to share your spoiler-filled thoughts, please do that on our spoiler-filled review post.