‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’ Review- It Works Better In The Middle

J.J. Abrams takes back the director’s chair of one of the world’s most beloved science fiction franchises with Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker, Disney’s final entry into the Skywalker Saga.

After receiving a transmission that appears to be from the thought-dead Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) travels to the Sith homeworld of Exegol with the help of a Sith Wayfinder. The Emperor informs him that Rey (Daisy Ridley) is not who everyone believes and that he must kill her. As a reward, he will gift Kylo a massive army he has been building since the battle of Endor that is powerful enough to conquer the known galaxy.

Rey is being trained by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), but after being informed of the fleet by a spy, she goes on a quest to find it and stop it. Heading out with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), and BB-8, they travel to find the fleets’ secret location. After meeting with Lando (Billy Dee Williams), they find a Sith dagger that may contain a clue to a second Wayfinder, but it also unlocks some memories in Rey that could alter her destiny.

Once again, Disney and LucasFilm step it up in with the technical side. John Williams composes an incredible score that is unmatched when it comes to Star Wars. Dan Mindel, who also worked with Abrams on Star Trek: Into Darkness (among others), handled the cinematography and it was spot on. Whether in space or on the ground, the scenes looked incredible. Both of these matched the visual effects which were top-notch and served to compliment the film instead of overtaking. Same with the character design. They went back to basics with the aliens, giving them a more realistic feel.

The problem lies in the story. The first act is incredibly choppy, working to undo the mistakes made in The Last Jedi. In fact, except for a few key plot points, the movie almost completely retcons elements that Rian Johnson put into the Star Wars mythos. This is a good thing, but it also somewhat splits the movie into two. You feel like the first thirty to forty-five minutes is Abrams’ own attempt at the second entry into the saga. After that, the movie does somewhat pick up the pace.

The second part of the movie focuses on Rey and her development into a powerful Jedi. Early on, we see her training under the tutelage of Leia, but The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi made such a big deal of how powerful she is, you wonder what the point of these scenes are. This is not a slight on Daisy Ridley, she is perfect for the role of Rey, but bad writing plagues her. Speaking of which, there is a twist on her character that was really needed earlier in this trilogy. It feels late to the game, but at least it’s interesting.

As for Kylo Ren, his character development is good, but again, it feels delayed. He became the character he needed to be in earlier in Star Wars. This time, it feels incredibly quick and not enough focus is given to him as the Supreme Leader of the First Order or his cohorts the Knights of Ren.

With the new characters, they were where they needed to be. They were supporting and with the mistakes from TLJ erased, they actually grew into likable roles that were there for back-up, becoming the folks they should have been from the beginning. Too little, too late.

The absence of the classic Star Wars characters was felt to the Nth degree. While the CGI Leia served a purpose, it felt mechanical instead of enduring. With Luke and Han gone, there was an empty presence. Chewy, Lando, Palpatine, and the droids tried to pick up the slack, but it was not up to the task. That is not to say Palpatine was not good as the main antagonist, he was, but it seemed last minute.

That was the problem with the movie. It all felt last minute. Perhaps it was a tepid apology from Disney for almost destroying the franchise, but ultimately it was like The Force Awakens, just mediocre. They patched together a movie that was meant to serve as a finale, but it was not the ending of the Skywalker Saga the audiences or the fans needed. If this movie had been the second in the series, instead of the final act, it would have served a better purpose, especially if Luke, Han, and Leia were still alive. Since that was not the case, they had to bridge ideas from Abrams’ work and from even from the story by original director Colin Trevorrow, who was fired before production.

Bottom line, you walk away from The Rise Of Skywalker saying, “That was interesting,” but nothing else. It should have been placed in the center of the trilogy instead of Rian “Ruin” Johnson’s heartbreaking entry and then teed up an epic finale that everyone could not only have somewhat enjoyed but applauded.

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Foul language, Disturbing images, Sci-fi violence

FAVORITE QUOTE: We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight.

Check out the movie trailer below:

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my music reviews of Lindsey Stirling’s We Three Gentlemen Medley and CS Johnson’s movie review of The Aeronauts. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

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15 thoughts on “‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’ Review- It Works Better In The Middle

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  5. At first I really liked the movie. But then when I realized that they screwed Ben, I’ve been pissed every since. I love that Reylo basically happened, but then I realized they really just gave Ben the shaft. They ignored the side stories that they told us about how he was used and abused (now we know by Palpatine through Snoke). We know that he wasn’t ALL bad, certainly nowhere near as bad as Vader (who killed children for God’s sake, but got redeemed and a Force Ghost!).

    He turned from the Dark Side with the help of Rey but also his own inner self as that is what Han represented. I loved that whole scene that mirrored the one in TFA. But with a better ending.

    That whole scene when he arrives on Exogol was just incredible. The hand off of the lightsaber made me squeal. When he crawled out of the whole and saw Rey dead, I was like sobbing. That whole scene. God, it really got me.

    But then they just tossed him aside and gave it all to Rey, even though they told us they were a dyad. They should have worked together.

    Then they killed him off and no mention of him again.

    There are rumors that things were changed last minute, but I don’t truck much with conspiracy theories.

    It seems they’ve been pretty silent about the whole thing as far as I can tell so I think they know what they did and they don’t care that many fans are angry.

    Of course there are always the weirdos who are so angry they send out death threats. I hate that as it ruins the point we try and make.

    I’m not heavy into it as I’m not a teenager. LOL. But it still upsets me.

    I feel that Adam Driver really brought the character to life and you could see every emotion in his face during those final scenes (both when they fought on the old Death Star and later on Exogol) that it just breaks my heart that the character got screwed and tossed aside.

    As for my take on this movie as a whole and the trilogy – I think that Ruin Johnson screwed it up and they screwed it up by letting him do what he did. There would have been no scramble at the end. It could have been done seamlessly.

    TLJ could have been where we start to find hints about Rey and her past and the Emperor. I have no problem bringing the Emperor back. People wanted something new, but if it was meant to be a closing of the Star Wars saga, you would almost have to bring him back. He started the whole thing in the first place, per Episode 1. But if they had Movie #2 start delving into that, it would have made more sense. Also, leaving Ben’s backstory to comic books or novels was wrong. Most people who watch the films, including myself, don’t follow that stuff. It should have been shown how Ben was tortured and abused, or some hint of it. That’s what made TLJ so empty. I had no idea why Luke was worried about Ben. They told, they didn’t show. I have no idea why Ben was Kylo Ren. They told, they didn’t show.

    If they had done TLJ correctly, then this one would have melded in better. I liked most of the stuff they retconned it’s just that it did feel rushed because it was obviously retconned. The feeling of retcon would have been absent had they not screwed up TLJ.

    So overall, I did like it. I like that Finn is Force sensitive. I like that it seemed that it was the Force that started awakening (ah ha!) people like Jannah and her fellow troopers. That’s another thing that could have been explored – the Force Awakens, perhaps because the Emperor was awake and planning and so the Force, without any Jedi around, was sending out messages to people to awaken to the evil that was coming. I think it would have worked out just fine.

    I liked Poe even more as they gave him some character instead of just being someone the feminazis could beat up in TLJ. That annoyed me soooo much in TLJ.

    I liked that Lando was there. When I thought Chewie died I went out of my mind (But then I remembered the old movie rule – no body, no death).

    There should have been a moment between Chewie and Ben as well I think. I’m fine with Reylo, but that needed to be there.

    I thought they used Leia okay but let’s face it there was no way to really use her very well.

    But it seemed that everything was not planned out properly or was only in a kind of outline with no real details. JJ is not very good at planning apparently. That seems clear. And so the whole thing was screwed from the start without a path.

    Ben really deserved a proper redemption and vindication. He may have been more easily tempted by the dark side given his heritage, but he was used and abused and he should have lived and been able to atone for anything he did do (he didn’t murder as many people as his grandfather).

    There was so much potential even within the outline of a story that we do see. But JJ dropped the ball. Big time.

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