Warning! Contains spoilers for The Rise Of Skywalker!
The Rise Of Skywalker ushers in the conclusion of one of the most innovative stories ever seen. And like any popular film, it’s getting heat for what worked, and what didn’t. As a long time fan of the original Star Wars films here’s my honest review.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Creative Differences – The trilogy started off with J.J. Abrams at the helm as writer and director for The Force Awakens, then switched to Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi, before returning to Abrams for The Rise Of Skywalker. There’s all kinds of gossip out there on the conflict behind the scenes, but regardless of all of that, we’re going to get different styles of stories when two different creatives try to bring the same story to life.
From some of what I’ve read, Abrams and Johnson worked together on pieces of the story, but still what they create is going to be different because they’re different people. And because of this, there will be a few sloppy side stories that could have been really awesome, and a few plot holes and unanswered questions I’m still asking.
Too Many Characters – One area I felt was particularly sloppy, but from an independent filmmaker perspective I can also understand, was the amount of side characters that we expect to see more of but never really do.
In some ways, it felt like a big wrap party from the entirety of Abram’s creative work. With recognisable faces like Dominic Monaghan who besides being known for Lord of the Rings played the character of Charlie on LOST, which was created by J.J. Abrams. Keri Russell from Felicity (yep, created by Abrams) makes an appearance, and so does Greg Grunberg from Alias.
As soon as I saw Monaghan make an appearance, I expected him to play a bigger part, but he didn’t, and unfortunately things like this become a bit of a distraction to an already full hero plate with trying to finish Poe’s, Finn’s, and Rey’s stories. From the hints into Finn’s Force sensitivity, I think we missed some cool story. I mean, come on, a storyline of a former stormtrooper having the force?! That would have been cool to explore.
Nod To The Originals & Entertaining – One thing I’ve been hearing and seeing in the reactions to The Rise Of Skywalker is how much fans have enjoyed the nostalgic moments within the film. I enjoyed them too. There was something cool about seeing Rey and Kylo in the remains of the Death Star, battling it out as waves crashed around them. And it was great to have Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian back. Not to mention the (extra spoiler alert) appearance of Harrison Ford as Han Solo.
All in all, the movie was entertaining. Sitting at 2 hours and 22 minutes, you gotta hope that what you’re about to watch when the lights dim is going to be worth it. I for one didn’t notice the passage of time. I was engrossed in the story, laughing at the little jokes – especially the one where Chewie is playing Dejarik with Po, and Finn accuses Chewie of cheating – too funny. The story holds your attention.
OK, can we just talk about that moment between Ben and Han?! So good. I loved everything about it. Especially loved that it ended on Han’s last words in the Star Wars universe with his iconic phrase, “I know.” I also enjoyed the bookend use of their conversation from The Force Awakens, with the “I know what I need to do but I don’t know if I have the strength.”
And maybe it’s just the sappy romantic in me but with the romantic tension they’ve built through the films between Rey and Ben, it was so nice to see them have at least one moment where it was just them, no fighting, no agenda, just love, and companionship. Sure it only lasted the length of a kiss and a smile, but it was enough and left me satisfied.
As a side note, it was cool to see how they found new tech for the stormtroopers too. “They fly now!” I enjoyed that moment of speeding through the desert landscape when our heroes were being chased.
Taking one last look at my friends …
It’s the end of a nearly half a century story, and while I wish this last trilogy could have been more sharply collaborated on, I am satisfied with the end. I’ve enjoyed the adventure, and am thankful for the lessons, fun, and entertainment that Star Wars has brought to our world. So thanks Abrams for finishing this series in a way that honoured the originals. And thanks to George Lucas for one of the most innovative stories ever told.