After 42 years, the story of Skywalker has come to a close with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Episode IX sees the return of Rey, Finn and Poe as the heroes of the Resistance trying to defeat the mighty First Order. J. J. Abrams returns to helm his second adventure in a galaxy far, far away after 2015’s The Force Awakens
I don’t think there’s anyway around the subject, but you can’t discuss this film without discussing 2017’s The Last Jedi. In Episode VIII, director Rian Johnson decided to take the franchise in a different direction. It was a bold move, one I felt positive about as you can see in my thoughts from back then. However, it was divisive amongst audiences despite being praised critically. The Force Awakens set things up for the sequel trilogy, but The Last Jedi sought to be something different. Fast forward to 2019. Abrams now has to bring two different cinematic viewpoints back together to close out this the long running space fantasy. How do I feel about what we got?
My feeling after walking out of the theater were that this was a fun and entertaining Star Wars adventure. I think the aspect I enjoyed the most was seeing Rey, Finn and Poe all together for what really is the first time in this trilogy. It was great seeing Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac play off of each other and participate in the main events of the film. Even though Luke, Han & Leia were split up during The Empire Strikes Back, there was a little time with them at the beginning and we didn’t get that for The Last Jedi since it picks up immediately after The Force Awakens. So having the trio together was a huge positive. On another character front, I felt things were wrapped up appropriately for Kylo Ren, one of the franchise’s most complex characters, maybe perhaps its most complex.
I thought the film was amazing to look at. I enjoy Abrams work in these space spectacles like Star Wars and Star Trek. It’s one I can’t wait to revisit in HD once the blu-ray arrives. The space battles were spectacular and the set pieces really well done.
Now to get into the crux of the film. Even though I enjoyed my time with The Rise of Skywalker, there are issues that hold it back from being one of the top films in the series. The biggest problem is having to straddle a wobbly fence and close out all threads presented in the first film, while having to expand on the themes and subversions presented in the second film. I personally felt the film tries its best to provide a fair experience to those who were satisfied by what both films tried to do. Sadly based on reviews and what I’ve seen on social media, it has split reception just as the prior film did. However it does provide some great moments that remind you of all the experiences people have had watching these films. As a whole, though it doesn’t quite have the impact of a concluding chapter the way Return of the Jedi did in 1983 or even Revenge of the Sith in 2005.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, while an enjoyable adventure full of cool moments, just slightly missed the landing as a result of trying to balance two different films while closing out a 42 year epic story. Yet, at least for me, despite these flaws, I still had a lot of fun watching this.