Star Wars, Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker had a lot of content to it in a very short amount of time. For my review, I have a lot of things I want to talk about, so let’s get right into my review. This does contain spoilers, so if you don’t want to know anything about the movie, then don’t read. My review is also divided into three parts:
- How I thought of it as a movie by itself
- How I thought of it as the end to the sequel trilogy
- And how I thought of it as the end of the Skywalker Saga and all nine films
As a movie by itself
The Rise of Skywalker as a movie by itself is a very good movie that I enjoyed. It’s full of action and adventure and to me, it really feels like a Star Wars movie again. The creativity that I miss in the sequel trilogy is finally there, which they have desperately needed to fix. There are more alien creatures and it honestly just feels like a Star Wars adventure to me.
The characters were way better handled this time. Rey, Finn and Poe all had great character dynamics and with Chewie and C-3PO added in there, the dynamics were strong and well done. The actors did great jobs and I honestly got into the characters this time, unlike with the previous one.
Rey as a character was so better handled. They finally showed her training and even though it’s almost too little too late, it was still nice to finally see it on screen. I don’t think it fixes her character as a whole simply because of all the Force powers she’s been able to do in the previous films with no training, but it was nice and it worked in this particular film.
Kylo Ren was another character that I thought they handled so well this time around. He was finally the Kylo Ren we deserved and expected from the previous ones. He was actually powerful and dare I say, more powerful than Rey. He even technically beat her in a fight which is the one thing that should have been changed in Episode 7—without that, it was hard to get into their fights because for me, it’s like, okay, she’s already beat him, so why am I interested in this fight between them?
Kylo’s redemption was handled very well. I loved how smoothly they did it and it felt believable which was one thing that was hard to handle in this movie about a lot of other things—more on those later. It was so nice to see Leia be the one to start him turning back to the good side. The scene with his father Han was nice and I understand what they were doing and it gave me a lot of feels, but it did feel a little odd. I guess Han was Kylo’s memory of him or something, but Han definitely isn’t a force ghost. I do feel like that scene would have been way better had Anakin appeared to Kylo as a force ghost and I’m not sure why they didn’t do it.
Carrie Fisher was handled as best as they could. They used unused footage of her and wove a story around Leia’s character and I felt like the scenes fit in smoothly with the rest of the story. She did have a much smaller part than I expected and the same goes for Lando, but I enjoyed all the scenes he was in.
Now, let’s address some of the negatives about this movie as its own.
It was so fast paced. The plot movies too quickly which causes there to be a lot of moments where things happen that aren’t explained. Hyperspace travel in this movie is so off. Supposedly it takes place in sixteen hours or something like that and they travel across the galaxy which would have taken time. Yet every character arrives on planets right when they need to for the plot. There is a ton of plot convenience which as a writer, I know full well to stay away from. One character, an old friend/enemy of Poe, wants to kill him one second and the next decides to work with them, but it’s never explained why. Later, she gives him the one thing she needs to escape off planet, something she’s been working toward for years and just gives it to him—again, with no explanation as to why she does such a thing.
How did I enjoy The Rise of Skywalker as an ending to the sequel trilogy?
On the one hand, I feel it’s actually a really good ending to the sequels and that it’s the best out of all of them. I really do like and enjoy this movie—in these first two aspects, at least. It honestly feels like an apology letter to fans after The Last Jedi, which is probably the reason why a lot of critics hate it.
Rey’s parents are now the children of Palpatine, or rather, her father is, and they didn’t just abandon her. They left her alone on a planet to save her from Palpatine. It never does address why Kylo Ren lied to her.
Kylo Ren fixes his mask after he broke it in The Last Jedi.
Luke appears as a force ghost to Rey and there are several “apologies” in this scene as well:
- Rey throws Anakin/Luke’s lightsaber into a fire and Luke catches it. He tells her that the weapon should be treated better
- He tells her that he was wrong to come and hide away and that he did so out of fear. He encourages her not to give in to her fear like he did.
- He force lifts his ship out of the water to give it to her so she can leave on it.
It’s mentioned that Palpatine made Snoke—though how, why, and when isn’t specified—and the only explanation we receive is that it shows failed clones that look similar to Snoke, so the assumption is that he’s a clone of some sort—maybe of Palpatine or something/someone else.
Rose had a very small part in this film and there really isn’t much to do with her and Finn.
Finn, Poe, and Rey pretty much stay together in this film. Their dynamics are restored and Finn also goes back to being obsessed with Rey.
Kylo actually feels guilt over Han’s death.
In the sense that it fixes all those terrible things The Last Jedi did, I enjoyed them and it felt so nice to see Star Wars get back on track. Seeing Luke be the Jedi he always should have been.
On the other hand, though, doing this was a bold movie and I do feel like it destroyed the sequel trilogy aspect. I can’t imagine watching Episodes 7,8, & 9 back-to-back. Maybe you could watch Episode 7 and then 9, but 8 would probably just feel so awkward and pointless now. That’s why I feel the sequels don’t really work as a trilogy.
Episode 9 honestly feels like part of it were meant to be episode 8. The movie spent so much time correcting things The Last Jedi screwed up that it left it little time to set up its own plot, explain and flush things out. If they hadn’t had to fix The Last Jedi, I do feel like episode 9 would have been a lot better in the sense of things being less rushed and more time to draw out certain parts of the movie that needed to be expanded upon.
What about how I feel on it as the end of the Skywalker Saga and all nine Star Wars movies?
Without a doubt, this isn’t the end of the Skywalker Saga. It doesn’t honor the Skywalker family at all and a better name for the movie would have been The Rise of Rey or The Rise of Palpatine.
Palpatine’s return, while it made for a dramatic plotline, also created a huge problem. Anakin Skywalker was always meant to be the Chosen one and to destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force. Whatever you want to call “balance” he was supposed to destroy the Sith. George Lucas himself said that Star Wars is about Anakin—his fall and redemption—and that he brought balance to the Force by destroying the Sith, which means Palpatine and himself. George Lucas also told Palpatine’s actor years ago that Palpatine was really dead.
Bringing Palpatine back really could have worked for the film if it had been explained. But we didn’t get that. Again, the movie was far too fast paced for it. We do see clones of Snoke and man, Palpatine looks terrible in this movie. Creepy—almost like he really is a corpse. There are several options it could have been:
- He really is alive and somehow survived using the Dark Side of the Force and mechanics.
- He’s a clone of Palpatine with all of Palpatine’s memories
- Sith spirits have possessed and inhabited Palpatine’s body, which somehow survived the explosion of the Death Star.
I am assuming they will address this in a book or comic, but it desperately needed to be included in the movie. The movie hinged on how they brought him back and whether or not it would undermine Anakin’s sacrifice and entire story arc.
Anakin wasn’t included in the film at all except for a scene at the end where the voices of all the past Jedi give Rey the strength she needs to defeat him. That, I gotta say, was a really epic scene and hearing their voices really hit me with all the feels, but it would have been so much better to actually see the force ghosts and man, that would have been the way to end the entire saga and I would have seen it as the final ending to this saga as a whole if they had done that.
I also feel like Palpatine was defeated way too easily. He had the power of all the Sith inside him and shot lightning into the sky and completely dessimates the resistance fleet. Then, he directs that power at Rey after the force ghost voices strengthen her, and she’s able to block it with her lightsaber. First off, if it dessimated entire ships with armor, how is she able to deflect it with a lightsaber? It’s not just regular lightning; this is the power of all the Sith. Then, she’s able to grab a second saber and reflect it back toward Palpatine which destroys him. I’m not sure why and once again, it’s never explained. He’s had lightning reflected toward him so many times, so this feels like a really weak way to end him. He had the power of all the Sith inside him and Rey was just able to reflect his attack and defeat him without a fight. Granted, she had the power of all the Jedi inside of her, but still. It just doesn’t fit.
In the final scene, Rey buries Luke and Leia’s lightsabers, takes out her own, and a local asks her what her name is. She tells the local Rey Skywalker and takes on the Skywalker name. She looks out and sees Luke and Leia’s force ghosts which is sweet and I get what they were trying to do but it didn’t work. If Anakin’s force ghost appeared with them, along with Ben—because he’s dead at this point—again, I could have seen that as a sweet and nostalgic end to the Skywalker saga, especially considering they were on the Lars family homestead.
If I had done this movie, there are several ways I would have fixed this:
- All the Jedi force ghosts actually showing up so we could physically see them helping Rey
- Anakin and Ben appearing with Luke and Leia at the end, so we see all the Skywalkers together
- Anakin appearing to Kylo as a force ghost to bring him back, rather than Han. In this scene, he could have warned Kylo, brought him back to the light, told him that he defeated Palpatine once and it would take sacrifices to do it again, but that all of the Jedi would be with him and Rey.
- Anakin appearing to Rey at any point in the film.
If Disney hadn’t marketed this as the end of the Skywalker saga, then I would have been able to sit down in the theater and fully enjoy it without expecting Anakin to be there. The only reason I expected him to be there was because you can’t end the Skywalker saga without him. You can’t bring Palpatine back—the man he betrayed and killed which is what brought him back from the Dark Side—without giving Anakin an important role, which they didn’t do.
This movie is very disappointing as the end of the Skywalker saga.
And if you watch all 9 films in order, what do you get?
The prequels—episodes 1, 2, & 3—all enhance the originals. It shows us who Darth Vader is and why he becomes the greatest villain in cenema history. The originals—4, 5, & 6—all enhance the prequels because it shows us Anakin’s children, their fight against the Empire, and shows us Anakin’s redemption back to the light.
The sequels? The first two movies dishonors the original characters, kills most of them off. It never gives us one reunion scene and it spits on the face of all that came before. It undermines Anakin’s sacrifice by bringing Palpatine back and makes Anakin’s entire arc and redemption void. It doesn’t enhance the prequels or the originals, which is what each new trilogy is supposed to do. Always. It ends in the same place we were at the end of episode 6—an empire just defeated with a single Jedi left to restore the Jedi order. All the sequels did was repeat the originals a lot worse—it created a new empire and a resistance to fight them, a bad guy turned good and a single Jedi left to defeat the ultimate evil with the empire destroyed in the end and the Jedi left to restore the Jedi Order. That plotline is the exact same as the originals.
Which is why I can’t and never will see The Rise of Skywalker as the ending to the Skywalker saga or the main nine Star Wars movies.
As for my official rating (based on action, character development, fitting in with the Star Wars universe, pacing, plotholes, excitement, and feels, and honoring what came before) I would probably give it between a 3.5 to a 4 stars.
What did you think of Star Wars, Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker?