I would hate to be JJ Abrams. Imagine all the pressure that was put on him by Disney to try to mend the bridge between the Star Wars franchise and the fandom that made it super popular. After the very divisive The Last Jedi, that’s a very tall order for anyone! JJ Abrams needed to find a way that would bring the fans who hated The Last Jedi back into the fold while also creating a cohesive story based on the events of Episode VIII. And he only had one movie, The Rise of Skywalker to do this massive task? That’s a really tall order!
Does JJ Abrams succeed? Did he manage to do the impossible and create a movie that will appease both Star Wars fans that hated The Last Jedi as well as the ones that loved it? In other words, is Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker a good movie?
Sadly no. The Rise of Skywalker is a bad movie. It is, however, a fun movie… but it’s still a bad movie. I basically enjoyed my viewing of The Rise of Skywalker. It’s a big budgeted sloppy mess of a film but it’s the right kind of big budgeted sloppy mess of a film. Think of it like one of those movies that you know is terrible but you still enjoy the spectacle of it all. Like I said, it’s bad. But it’s fun. But it’s bad!
Okay, that’s my very quick summary of my review of The Rise of Skywalker. If you came for what I thought, that’s it. After this point, however, I will be delving into SPOILER territory because that’s where most of the problems lie. Besides, I’m already very late in putting out this review. Lots of other sites have already given their reviews but they don’t have SPOILERS. So, let’s go jump right in and I’ll give you my SPOILER filled thoughts on The Rise of Skywalker.
Like all other Star Wars films, The Rise of Skywalker starts off right in the middle of things. However, it does come off as weirdly disconnected from the events of The Last Jedi and even that of The Force Awakens. The opening crawl states that a message is being broadcast all over the galaxy from Emperor Palpatine, who was supposedly killed in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. This leads Kylo Ren to find something like the Sith version of Google Maps to locate Palpatine on a Sith planet. The Resistance forces receive information from a mole within The First Order that Kylo Ren has successfully joined forces with Emperor Palpatine. Their only hope is to find the location of the Sith world by trying to retrace Luke Skywalker’s original search for the planet. This leads the group composed of Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, BB-8 and C3-P0 on a galaxy wide fetch quest to find the magical macguffin that will help them locate the planet.
Then a lot of things happen.
Honestly, this is my biggest issue with The Rise of Skywalker: there’s just too many things that happen within the film’s 142-minute runtime. I already said SPOILERS so I’m going to run down a brief list of the things that happen just to give you an idea of how much stuff is crammed into this film.
Rey accidentally strikes down a prison transport carrying Chewbacca with Force Lightning and seemingly killing the Wookie. It turns out Chewie was on a different transport so he didn’t die. They have to wipe out C3-P0’s memory banks in order to bypass a programming routine that stops him from translating Sith language, leading to a sorrowful goodbye by the human cyborg relations droid. C3-P0’s memories are restored by R2-D2 once Poe and Finn return to the Resistance base. Poe goes to a First Order occupied planet and meets up with Zorri, a old friend of his. The First Order destroys said planet with one of Emperor Palpatine’s new Star Destroyers. Zorri actually escaped despite the blockade and join forces with the Resistance.
Wait. There’s more.
General Hux reveals he was the mole because he didn’t want Kylo Ren to “win.” General Hux is immediately killed by General Pryde afterwards for treason. Rey finds out that she’s the granddaughter of Palpatine and retreats to the planet Luke Skywalker banished himself in The Last Jedi. Luke Skywalker appears as a Force Ghost and convinces Rey to fight. Rey and Kylo Ren have a lightsaber duel and, feeling Leia passing away, Kylo Ren becomes distracted, allowing Rey to run him through with her lightsaber. Rey heals Kylo Ren with her Force Healing ability so he doesn’t die then she leaves him. Kylo Ren then sees Han Solo’s ghost (not his Force Ghost but more like a memory of him) and decides to become good.
At the start of the film, Leia takes over Rey’s training in the Jedi ways because it’s shown in a flashback that Luke trained Leia on how to be a Jedi. Leia also foresaw Rey returning to the planet Luke banished himself to so she told Luke to give Rey her lightsaber when she returned. Did I mention that Leia managed to complete her training, which is why she was able to assemble her own lightsaber? I totally forgot that!
There are probably more but I think that’s enough.
Now, I’m normally okay with a film where a ton of things happen. The problem here is that you’re never allowed for any emotional moments to sink in because they have to move to the next thing! I mentioned there was a moment when you think Chewbacca gets killed but, in the very next scene, you see he’s okay. What’s the point of making the audience that a beloved character is dead only to show that he’s alright in the next scene?
I have the feeling the reason for this really compressed set of events happened is because this is JJ Abrams original vision of what Episode VIII was going to be like before it was given to another person. The Rise of Skywalker feels like it would have been better if it was split into two films so that the emotional moments and dramatic scenes were given time to breathe and leave some kind of impact on the viewer. Maybe C3-P0’s memory was supposed to be wiped at the end of JJ Abrams’ Episode VIII script but it gets re-installed in Episode IX. It’s just a guess.
An additional thing I didn’t like about The Rise of Skywalker is how they handle The Force. Rather, it’s more on how they depict Rey and Kylo Ren using The Force as they’re just too powerful! There is that one scene where Rey and Kylo Ren place tug-of-war on a prison transport using The Force powers to pull it to their side! While it’s trying to escape the atmosphere! That’s just insanely powerful Force Pull ability from both of them! Even Emperor Palpatine is ridiculously overpowered as he manages to almost take out the entire Resistance fleet, including their reinforcements, with just Force Lightning! If he could do that, why the heck did he even need a Death Star in the Original Trilogy?
Even with the incredibly convoluted plot and a great misunderstanding of how to make The Force mystical but believable, I still had fun watching The Rise of Skywalker. I know I shouldn’t like it as much as I do but I enjoyed my time watching the film. I guess it’s because there is that unseen quality where you just feel that everyone is putting everything they have into it.
I can’t really think of a single weak acting job throughout the film. Maybe the weakest would be John Boyega’s Finn but it’s still a very charming performance and partially it’s because he doesn’t really do anything to really contribute to the proceedings beside following Rey like a… I don’t really know why he’s following her around, come to think of it. It’s never explained if Finn has a crush on Rey or something along those lines. It’s just never explored clearly.
Anyway, everyone does a great job acting their heart out in The Rise of Skywalker. I actually liked Oscar Isaac’s Poe this time around as he’s given more time to act like a cocksure scoundrel here. Of course, it’s incredible to see the likes of Ian McDiarmid’s Palpatine, Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher’s Leia as they have been portraying their characters for so long and they’ve certainly gotten the hang of it!
Speaking of Carrie Fisher, the special effects are also pretty amazing. We all know that she sadly died prior to the shooting of this film so JJ Abrams had to use archival footage to insert her into the film. It amazing how seamless it comes across as she’s never really just standing alone or anything like that. They really put her as part of the crowd and there are even some scenes where she interacts with Rey. That’s some good special effects and directing trickery right there!
Besides that, everything else is just stunning. The battle scenes and the lightsaber fights are incredible and I almost forgot that it’s all computer generated special effects, sound stages and models! I was totally sucked into the film’s imagery.
But, as amazing everything is and how The Rise of Skywalker managed to suck me in, there are just too many ridiculous plot points for me to take it seriously. JJ Abrams managed to make an entertaining movie but it’s still a bad film. Will fans enjoy it? It’s hard to say because it is a rather dumb film but, at the same time, it does try to give the Star Wars fanbase what they want. But I can’t really say if it’s enough. The Rise of Skywalker is a bad movie. It’s fun, but a bad movie.
But can we all agree that it’s better than The Phantom Menace? Please?
Have you seen Episode IX? What did you think of The Rise of Skywalker? Let me know in the comments section below!