‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’

The Star Wars sequel trilogy has concluded, and just like with the last movie, fans’ opinions are as mixed as ever. Some say the most recent movie, The Rise of Skywalker is terrible, and others are in the completely opposite field. I personally enjoyed it, but can’t overlook some really dumb stuff that the movie includes for no reason. This is as far as I can get into the movie without spoilers, so leave now if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

Right off the bat, The Rise of Skywalker is filled with problems. It deals with the return of Palpatine, the BBEG (big bad evil guy) of the first two trilogies. First of all, I don’t mind the fact that they brought him back, but because they didn’t set up this twist in either of the previous movies, it feels like a cheap reveal. If you didn’t watch the trailers, where it was revealed he would return, then seeing his name in the opening title crawl would feel so wrong without any set up.

On a first viewing, the plot of this movie is hard to follow. It involves Poe, Finn, and Rey tracking down a Sith way-finder that can lead them to where Palpatine is hiding. Palpatine’s endgame is that he’s building a fleet of star destroyers that can destroy planets, and has sent Kylo Ren to kill Rey. The first two-thirds of this movie are about the heroes going to different planets and following leads to find the way-finder.

But when I say it’s incoherent, I mean that literally. J.J. Abrams, the man who directed the movie, doesn’t waste a lot of screen time, so it often feels like things just happen way too quick. There’s no time for any of the themes to develop as the characters are moved from one planet to the next so quickly. 

There is one moment where the plot slows down for a second, which is when Rey is in the desert about to confront Kylo Ren, the shot that was in the trailer. It takes its time to build up the tension before the confrontation, and is honestly one of the best scenes in the movie. If more of the movie had been like this scene, I believe that it would be a lot better.

One thing I really don’t like about this movie is how Rey’s backstory is treated. For two years, her parentage was a mystery, and just about everyone thought she was a Skywalker, or a Kenobi, or a Jinn, or basically a descendant of any other major Star Wars character. In The Last Jedi, it was revealed that she was a nobody, and I particularly liked that reveal, because it made the Force seem special, like anyone could use it if they believed in it. 

The Rise of Skywalker mostly threw that assumption in the trash. Partway through the movie, it is revealed that Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter, and the reason she is so good with the Force is because of her blood. I hate this so much. They ruined most of Rey’s development in the last film, and the theme that anyone can use the Force, even random loners, like the slave boy grabbing the broom with the Force at the end of The Last Jedi.

However, even though I don’t like that they make Rey a Palpatine, I absolutely love how it plays into her character development throughout the film. It all starts when Rey accidentally uses Force lightning, which is a power that only Sith have, which foreshadows her origin. Then, later in the movie, she decided to run away from the fight and hide on the old Jedi temple because she believed she couldn’t fight anymore because she was a Palpatine. Then, Luke appears as a Force ghost, and his conversation with Rey is one of the best pep talks/motivational speeches in the entire saga, talking about how it doesn’t matter who Rey shares blood with, it matters where her loyalties lie.

On the flip side, Kylo Ren goes through an emotional arc that completes his journey throughout the films. Even though his commanding officers want to join forces with him or want him dead, he is intent on ruling the galaxy side-by-side with Rey. He tries to get her to join him by destroying the way-finder, meaning that she can only go to the emperor if she joins forces with him.

Rey rejects his offer, and from across the galaxy, Leia uses the Force to distract Kylo Ren, giving Rey an opportunity to stab him. I will admit, this scene is kind of shot in a confusing way, but since Carrie Fisher died before this film started and they were using previous footage of her with CGI clothes, I’m willing to overlook it.

Meanwhile, the last of Leia’s force powers connects Kylo to an active memory of his dad, Han Solo, in another great scene. Han isn’t a Force ghost or anything, but instead is just an active memory type thing. Anyways, they have a conversation that mirrors the one they had in The Force Awakens, with Kylo saying that, “He knows what he needs to do, but doesn’t have the strength to do it.” Han comforts him, and this time, instead of stabbing his father, Kylo Ren throws his lightsaber away and leaves to face the emperor with Rey. I feel these were the strongest scenes in the entire movie, and because they happen right before the climax, it recenters the focus of the movie and gets rid of all of the chaos and side plots.

So while the first half of the movie is kind of a mess with some cool scenes and character development, the finale is awesome. It features a giant space battle with the resistance going up against the hundreds of star destroyers called the Final Order while Rey goes to fight Palpatine and Kylo trying to catch up with her. 

This climax continues the underlying theme of hope that is prevalent throughout all of Star Wars by having Lando and Chewie going around the galaxy to spread the word that there is going to be a final attack on the Sith, and it culminates in a scene where thousands of spaceships from around the galaxy attack the Final Order. However, even though the ship battle is awesome, it pales in comparison to how Rey and Kylo beat Palpatine.

Simplifying a lot, it ends with Rey using both lightsabers to deflect Force lightning into Palpatine, and Kylo defeating the Knights of Ren, his former allies. This ending is great for two reasons: One, it sticks with the theme that Rey’s family doesn’t define her, and two, it actually had tension, and I didn’t know how it was going to end. 

However, once again, the movie pulls a stupid, and resurrects Rey using the Force heal ability. It would have been so much better if she died right there. Once she’s resurrected, they kiss for no reason at all, a scene I actually cringed at in the theatre, and then Kylo dies. Yeah, that was the grand finale of the two best characters in the entire saga. Pathetic.

Rey then goes back to the resistance base, and after hanging out there, goes to Luke’s home on Tatooine and bury’s Luke and Leia’s lightsabers in sand. A random passerby asks who she is, and she responds, “Rey Skywalker.”

Image taken from: https://awwmemes.com/t/emo-kylo-ren?s=new

I like this, because even though she’s a Palpatine, she can move on from her bloodline and decide who she is. It goes back to what Luke said in the film, about how your blood doesn’t define you, but your allegiances. It’s a good ending, and makes you feel like they name of the movie actually means something.

However, I think there would be a better way to end this film. Rey stays dead, and Kylo takes her place. Since he is a Skywalker, the ending still makes sense, and it doesn’t have to deal with the backlash of resurrection, which is kind of a stupid move to pull in any movie.

Anyways, those are my thoughts on The Rise of Skywalker. The ending would have been a lot better if Rey stayed dead, Poe and Finn were wasted throughout most of the film, and the entire first two thirds are kind of nonsensical, but if you can overlook that, the love is pretty fun. It’s just another Star Wars adventure about people tracking down a random object with a bunch of lightsaber fights. 

In that way, it’s a bit like Revenge of the Sith. A lot of people don’t like this movie, and some say the plot is stupid and confusing, but if you’re willing to overlook the stupid and just watch it because it’s Star Wars, it’s an enjoyable movie that any Star Wars fan can watch without feeling the need to watch the previous two movies.

My final rating for this movie is an 7.5/10

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