With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, director JJ Abrams delivers a safe and nostalgia-filled finale to the Skywalker saga. It’s a worthwhile experience for anyone looking to have a bit of weekend fun, but fans will likely argue about what could have been for years to come.
The story picks up with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) following clues that lead him to a strange new planet, where he meets an old phantom menace who plans on reining over the galaxy with a fleet of Death Star-like ships. It is then up to Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and their rebel friends to go on a planet-hoping adventure to put a stop it. Sound familiar?
Similar to The Force Awakens (also directed by Abrams), the director relies on nostalgia and what has worked in the previous trilogy rather than trying something new.
It worked fine for the Force Awakens, Disney’s first Star Wars film. But that same strategy feels tired with The Rise of Skywalker.
Rey and the rest of the gang move from dazzling set piece to dazzling set piece. Chase sequences, epic space battles, gunfights and lightsaber duels ensue. It’s fun but begins to plod, as plot points are recycled from past movies. It’s enough to make any Star Wars fan feel like they have déjà vu.
Fortunately the cast is great here, with Driver delivering his most conflicted and brooding portrayal of Kylo Ren yet. Carrie Fisher’s Leia Skywalker makes a return thanks to CG and repurposed footage from the past two films. It works out great while still managing to respect Fisher’s legacy.
Ridley and Boyega have great performances as well, even if their characters feel like they’ve barely grown since The Force Awakens.
This is mainly because The Rise of Skywalker feels disjointed from the previous two films. Plot points that were thrown away in the franchise’s last installment, The Last Jedi (directed by Rian Johnson), are brought back up again. Meanwhile, plots that began in that film are completely abandoned.
It seems obvious that Disney lacked any kind of master plan going into the new trilogy, and it shows.
That shouldn’t worry the average movie goer though. The original trilogy wasn’t exactly that planned out either (remember when Luke kissed Leia? Not once but TWICE!). The Rise of Skywalker is still a fun-enough movie on its own that’s enjoyable for people who just want a night out.
But as someone who has swung around plastic lightsabers since they were 5 years old, one can’t help but feel a bit disappointed.