Editor’s note: The following review may include spoilers.
With the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” last December, the latest Star Wars trilogy has come to a close and added its mark on the decades old franchise. The latest addition was a return to formula after the departures that “The Last Jedi” took with the series. Though with this return came problems that were present throughout the movie.
The plot of the movie is relatively simple. After “The Last Jedi,” all the rebels group up, realize that Emperor Palpatine isn’t dead and then race across the galaxy to find and defeat him. Throughout the film, many characters from previous films make appearances and a few new side characters are introduced. The callbacks and homages seep into the plot as well, with iconic Star Wars locations and events playing important roles in this movie.
To get it out of the way, “The Rise of Skywalker” was not a bad movie. The visuals were spectacular, the score was true to Star Wars and the essence of the franchise was present. The movie was filled with setpieces that revealed the exhaustive amount of work that goes into these movies with debris flying across the screen and grand battles on land and in space.
With the description and clarifications out of the way, “The Rise of Skywalker” is a movie that does a lot to please fans but in turn doesn’t always feel like a true sequel and more of a movie written to please a committee. As the movie began, it started pleasantly enough but quickly had cameos and references back to back. As the movie went on, this issue never went away and instead it felt as if the movie was poking the audience throughout, asking if they remember the original trilogy.
The original trilogy’s ghost looms over this movie and leans closer to what “The Force Awakens” tried to accomplish. The first movie of this new trilogy was unique but followed a lot of plot beats from “A New Hope,” the first Star Wars movie, and “The Rise of Skywalker” follows “Return of the Jedi” in a similar way. It does result in a movie that does its job of appealing to fans with a familiar story, but at the cost of authenticity. By the end, it felt like a Frankenstein of what is generally considered the best moments and characters.
The pacing felt stitched together as well. “The Rise of Skywalker” moved at breakneck speed from set piece to set piece and rarely slowed down. The speed of the movie seemed unnatural and left plot lines hanging while other scenes felt breezed through. Emotional and heartfelt scenes left as soon as they arrived with no time to let the moment sink in. It felt as if there was about 30 minutes of the film that was cut from the final product.
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is serviceable. Those who are fans of Star Wars will find enjoyment from some of the references, but for others, it might feel closer to a retreading of old grounds. While returning to what has worked before isn’t inherently bad, it’s disappointing to see that after decades since the first movie there are so few departures from the original formula. Hopefully in the future, Star Wars will finally grow up with the generations of fans that have followed the series.
Jayden Perez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @Jayden_Perez13.