To prepare for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, I watched all 10 previous Star Wars films – yes, including Solo and Rogue One, in the span of 4 days. 20+ hours of content, all leading up to this. And yes, it was worth it.
Before I get too far, I’ve ALREADY seen some spoilers floating around online, so I’d like to be clear that I will not be spoiling anything in this review. But if you’d like to be extra cautious and not read anything, just know that I liked it.
A Fitting End to the Greatest Story of Our Generation
Since The Force Awakens was released, the sequel trilogy has been my favorite of the three. Something about it has felt so much more full of life and fully realized than either the original nor the prequels ever did. Doing this full marathon ahead of time only strengthened that belief for me.
A lot of people like to find issue with 2017’s The Last Jedi, but I personally loved it. I do recognize some things I think Rian Johnson attempted that didn’t work out as well as others, but I don’t think that those mistakes were to the detriment of the story as a whole.
The Rise of Skywalker, to me, was a fitting end to this trilogy. I think they identified some of those things that didn’t work out so well, and paid them off tenfold.
I think it’s also just a good movie. Star Wars to me has always been successful at being a well made film on top of an interesting story and exciting action. The music, the visual atmosphere, the direction, are all excellently done. Also, it was funny. Like, really funny. When watching this full marathon of movies, C3-PO is one of the only constant characters through the full length of the story, but I never thought he was particularly notable. In this movie, not only is he a major player, he’s very funny!
I have seen a very large amount of new 2019 releases this year, so I don’t think this was a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but I do believe that it was the best Star Wars has been executed on the screen, and I’m willing to defend that position (though most of that defense contains spoilers).
Succession of Skywalker
The Rise of Skywalker is a movie with a lot happening. Despite that, it never felt rushed, and it never felt like there was more than the director could handle.
One of my gripes with Last Jedi was that for the majority of the runtime, it juggles three story arcs of varying importance, and only one of them was really very exciting. Constantly switching between these unrelated events did make it feel very clunky at times. Skywalker did not have this issue.
It perfectly handles the amount of characters it has to carry (akin to Kevin Feige’s management of the MCU entourage), and is able to introduce new stakes without it seeming incredibly far fetched or rushed to try and clean them up.
Legacy of Skywalker
I will not be going into incredible detail, because I know that personally I would consider anything about Star Wars a spoiler, otherwise I could go on and on about specific moments that I think were incredibly masterful. It paid tribute to the legacy of the original films and of Carrie Fisher. It definitely was an honest homage to what Star Wars has become.
I know that some people will not like this movie. With a fanbase of this scale, you can’t please everyone, and Disney/Lucasfilm is already on thin ice to most people because of Last Jedi and because of general lack of faith with JJ Abrams. That upsets me, honestly, because I do think that, to genuine Star Wars fans, this is a fantastic finale. It is, in every aspect, a Star Wars movie. For every great moment in the previous movies, this one single film has a version of that and it was amazing.
A vocal group of Star Wars fans believe that the story should’ve ended with Return of the Jedi, and that everything since has been a mistake, and will never be as good as the originals. Obviously this is an incredibly narrow minded view, but I think it’s especially frustrating, because the amount of care and respect that has gone into the sequel trilogy is truly immeasurable. Skywalker is the culmination of those efforts.
I think the best recommendation that I can make is that if you go into the theater expecting to not like this movie because it’s not the three movies you saw from the original trilogy back in the day, then you won’t like it. Skywalker doesn’t try to recreate Return of the Jedi. It doesn’t even try to recreate The Empire Strikes Back. Skywalker is its own story and will define its own path.
Thankfully, I will be seeing it again very soon, and am very excited to do so. I think this quote from the Last Jedi sums the film up well:
“We are what they grow beyond”
– Master Yoda