Our thoughts and full review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – HEAVY SPOILERS
The saga of the Skywalker family which began 42-years ago has been brought to a satisfying conclusion with Episode IX – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
These thoughts and review will contain heavy spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie you should click away right now.
Those that are still with us here we go.
Still with us? Let’s dive in.
The Rise of Skywalker had a lot of work to do to bring not only this new trilogy but the nine film saga in for a landing – and with the highest degree of difficulty.
Director and co-writer JJ Abrams had to please not only the critics but also the fans with this film – and we think he did an admirable job.
At the time of writing we had seen The Rise of Skywalker three times and feel we know the film a lot better.
While we have high praise for the movie it’s certainly not perfect.
The storyline (you can read the entire story recap here) is quite involved and the first half is a treasure hunt to find the wayfinder to Palpatine who is not only alive but he has been pulling the strings of the First Order.
The second half is Rey discovering who she is and struggling with what her next move is. She had spent part of the first half – and the year or so between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker training under Princess Leia’s supervision.
Kylo Ren also faces his own internal struggles which come to a head when Rey strikes a fatal blow and then revives him aboard the Death Star wreckage on Endor.
Kylo Ren – now back as Ben Solo – returns the favour for Rey at the film’s climax before dying himself.
The film manages to tie things up in a satisfying way
The Rise of Skywalker has a frenetic pace – it’s action from the first frame but there is also a lot of exposition to explain the wayfinders to locate Palpatine.
Some may say this made the film disjointed but we think it just added to the urgency and the pace.
We also liked Rey and Kylo Ren’s journey – their struggles are at the core of this movie as they battle to find their true identity.
There are a number of touches and references throughout the film that fans will identify and love.
Many of the critics are using the term “fan service” which they say is JJ Abrams pandering to the Star Wars fans.
We’ve got news for you – you needed to know a fair amount going in to this movie to appreciate it so the idea of appealing to this fan audience was a smart move.
Another favourite moment was seeing Han Solo again as he gets through to his son Kylo Ren after he is revived by Rey – a very emotional scene that had us in tears.
In the climactic moment of the movie, Rey stares up at the stars and asks all of the Jedi to be with her.
She hears their voices including Yoda, Luke, Obi-wan Kenobi – young and old, and Anakin Skywalker among many others to help her bring balance to the Force before using both Leia’s and Luke’s lightsabers to defeat Palpatine.
It was also brilliant to see the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia thanks to some unused scenes from The Force Awakens. They were seamless and still managed to give her a pivotal role in the movie.
Lando Calrissian also made a welcome return and his role was functional to the plot so he wasn’t just window dressing and a fan call back for the sake of it.
Another nice touch was Chewbacca receiving what we believe is Luke’s Yavin Medal – the medal he and Han received at the end of A New Hope when they blew up the original Death Star.
Chewie didn’t get a medal then and it has rubbed Star Wars fans, including this one, the wrong way for 42 years.
And we think it’s Luke’s medal because Maz Kanata gives it to Chewie – she also had possession of Luke’s lightsaber in The Force Awakens so we’re assuming she had his medal too.
It was a shame to see Kylo Ren – now Ben Solo again – die at the end of the movie.
Rey, in her effort to defeat Palpatine, uses up all her energy and dies.
Ben, after climbing out of a crevice he was thrown into like a rag doll by Palpatine, manages to get to Rey and use the Force to bring her back.
He was returning the favour after Rey did that to him earlier.
And we didn’t mind the kiss they exchanged when Rey was brought back after recognising Ben.
But did he have to die? He literally gave his life to save her – and that makes him a hero. He redeemed himself – that’s a big theme in the Skywalker films and his death reflects that.
Just like Darth Vader died after saving his son Luke Skywalker.
It would have been too neat an ending if Rey and Ben left Exegal hand in hand.
In defeating Palpatine and the Resistance defeating the Final Order sacrifices were made – heroes died in the line of duty including Ben Solo.
DID THE RISE OF SKYWALKER ACKNOWLEDGE THE LAST JEDI?
Yes and no.
It was obvious that the new trilogy wasn’t planned out by Disney which knew there would be three different directors.
JJ Abrams returned for The Rise of Skywalker after Colin Trevorrow – the original choice for Episode IX – was shown the door.
God knows what we would have got from three different directors.
Episode VIII The Last Jedi – written and directed by Rian Johnson – took the franchise in a new direction and fans either loved it or hated it.
Some bold plot moves were introduced and we were going in a whole new direction.
It feels like JJ Abrams had to do a little bit of course correction in The Rise of Skywalker.
The biggest snub from The Last Jedi was Rey’s parentage – they were nobodies according to The Last Jedi but Rise of Skywalker says they were nobodies because they wanted to be – to disguise Rey’s true heritage as Palpatine’s granddaughter.
Last Jedi director Rian Johnson was trying to establish that anyone can have the Force – not just Jedi.
Abrams ignored all that and made The Rise of Skywalker all about the Skywalkers (it’s in the title) and the Palpatines.
Even some of the characters introduced – namely Rose – were relegated to the background and were basically set dressing.
Kylo Ren’s helmet which he smashed to pieces in The Last Jedi was put back together in The Rise of Skywalker.
When Rey goes back to Ach To and torches Kylo Ren’s ship she throws Luke’s lightsaber in there as well only for Luke’s Force ghost to catch it and say it should be treated with more respect.
This comes after Luke tossed his old lightsaber aside like a piece of trash in the opening seconds of The Last Jedi after it was handed it to him by Rey.
Even when Rey says she wants to stay here like Luke, he says he was wrong to let fear overwhelm his better judgment.
But alternatively you could argue that Rise of Skywalker completes Luke’s character arc in the new trilogy and that he learned his lesson from The Last Jedi.
Even him catching his lightsaber can show that Luke has developed.
We also liked how Luke Skywalker retrieves his X Wing from the ocean depths – you could see it underwater in The Last Jedi – a task he couldn’t achieve as a Jedi in training in Empire Strikes Back.
But the return of Palpatine appeared to be a sharp turn away from the path previously laid out by Rian Johnson in The Last Jedi.
Poe even says after the Battle of Crait – the climactic battle in Last Jedi – no one showed up.
But plenty of people show up in Rise of Skywalker with the number of ships almost blotting out the sky.
Overall I rate The Rise of Skywalker in the top five of the Skywalker saga films and I feel it was ended in a satisfying way with call backs to original trilogy and even the prequels.
Performances in the film were excellent particularly from Adam Driver playing Kylo Ren/Ben Solo.
Poe, Finn and Rey had a good chemistry and it was great to see them all back together for the majority of the movie.
The new characters were OK – they didn’t do a whole lot except give us someone new to look at and open up a new strand in the Star Wars universe.
The new droid D-0 was also pretty cute. I would have loved to see R2 D2 have more screen team but was glad that C-3P0 was a lot more involved.
He was pretty much in the background in Force Awakens and Last Jedi.
Same thing for Chewbacca – he was quite involved in The Rise of Skywalker.
He was always a favourite character of ours and seeing him finally get that medal actually made me cry.
Overall I’d give Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker 4.5 out of 5.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
This was the final chapter in the Skywalker saga but Kathleen Kennedy, head of Lucasfilm, hinted quite strongly at the world premiere that this was AN end buy not necessarily THE end.
I think there could be films made with Poe as the main character and even Finn who in this film showed he might be Force sensitive as well.
And technically Rey could have her own film or films because she is not a Skywalker despite declaring she is at the end.
The Star Wars universe is a big place but what we’d love to see is a trilogy set at time of the old Republic where the Jedi were starting and battling the Sith. I’d pay to see that.