“Rise of Skywalker”: A disappointing finish to the Skywalker Saga

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Matthew Port Louis, Writer

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final episode in a long 40-year saga, has finally been brought to an end. Director JJ Abrams rewrites many controversies from The Last Jedi to bring a crowd-pleasing, fan service filled, and frankly, an unadventurous storyline to wrap up the Skywalker Saga. Even so, actors Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver rise to the challenge of their roles, and they both deliver compelling and emotional performances that brought the movie from mediocre to tolerable. 

Set one year after the events of The Last Jedi, the film follows Rey (Ridley), and her companions Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Chewbacca, and C-3PO. They are on a quest to find a Sith Wayfinder device in order to find the risen Emperor Palpatine and the Sith fleet on the planet Exegol and destroy them to bring order to the galaxy. While they try to do so, the First Order and Kylo Ren (Driver), attempt them to stop them for almost the entirety of the movie. 

The beginning of the movie is fast-paced and filled with tons of action. Up until this point, the film is smooth and exciting. But once the plot reaches the Resistance Base, that’s where the plot starts to crumble, revolving around deleted scenes featuring the late Carrie Fisher. The plot is forced to be written around these scenes, and everyone is given the uncomfortable task of having to work around it, making the movie seem choppy at points. 

One of the biggest problems in the movie is that improbable nonsense happening with no explanation as to why. Now the Resistance is given word by a First Order spy that Palpatine has risen again and everyone seems to take the news okay, without questioning anything. In the original trilogy, Palpatine is thrown down a shaft and is killed, and 99.99% of all the characters in the Star Wars universe would have stayed dead. It makes sense from a cinematic point of view that Abrams is forced to bring in Palpatine (because there are no competent villains). But, in a in-universe point of view, we’ve never seen a Star Wars character ever rise from the dead, and the screenwriters just want us to accept this without asking for an explanation on-screen. 

The midsection of the movie is arguably the best part of the movie, and most effective because you get the perfect balance of action and exposition, with Rey and Kylo’s two lightsaber fights, the Millennium Falcon chase scene, with Rey finding out her heritage, Poe’s backstory, and Kylo Ren’s redemption. With these elements, it finally feels like a classic Star Wars film. It’s where the acting of Ridley and Driver’s really stands out, as you can see the horror on Rey’s face when she destroys a First Order transport, and you can see the sadness, pain, and anger of Kylo Ren’s face the most in this middle section out of any point in the trilogy. This, however, doesn’t make up for the first act that’s filled with people talking about themselves, who they are, and where they need to go, and it’s just filled with clunky exposition that just bogs down the entire movie.  

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was ultimately a disappointing finish to the Skywalker saga,  even with the great performances of Driver and Ridley, the stunning cinematography, and the CGI and practical effects. The score of John Williams creates a mysterious and exciting feel throughout the film, keeping us on the edge of our seats. The camera angles showing parts of Palpatine’s face in the beginning, and then a full front-on angle of his face as lightning lights up his dead and cold eyes is absolutely chilling. 

However, the overuse of lightsabers destroys the elegance that defines them. The characters treat them like swords from a King Arthur story, instead of the elegant weapons seen in the first trilogy. The editing could have been much better, as the artistic elegance of Star Wars films is nonexistent. 

But the big problem with The Rise of Skywalker is that it never took any great surprises and risk-taking and the main characters, especially Rey, never have to suffer the consequences of their actions, making them unrelatable. There are no real stakes in the movie, as evidenced by Threepio getting back his memory when the movie made it seem like he was gone forever. This makes it seem like the heroes can get by unscathed, and a few background character deaths wasn’t going to fix that. 

Overall, these problems make the legendary franchise end with an unsatisfying thud and the last episode is just an unmemorable and fan-service filled movie which disappointed many fans and left them leaving theaters in anger, not satisfaction.