I should have had this review done before the end of 2019 but decided to wait and start 2020 with it since I am done writing my third novel and have had time to let my thoughts on the latest and final chapter of the Skywalker marinate. First off I felt this film could get no higher than a B if we were grading it mainly because of the mess Rian Johnson left in the wake of The Last Jedi. I was correct in assuming that JJ Abrams was going to be doing a lot of course correcting as a result. With that said this film had many structural issues because of all this. Yet I still enjoyed the film. Since this is way after the release but still warrants a warning for those who have yet to see Rise of Skywalker…SPOILER ALERT.
Not sure if this was an answer to many fan complaints but they start off with Rey training on a jungle planet and while she has easily seemed to master the physical aspects, she has problems with some of the meditational skill. In particular she tries and fails to connect with the Jedi who came before her. With that point established she decides to go off without finishing which in retrospect is a common them as Luke did the same to confront Vader in Empire Strikes back. I have to mention though that this film jumps from plot point to plot point in rapid succession so we don’t spend too much time with all of the players or get any sense of the gravity of what’s going on with most of them. Now I like fast pacing but usually only after the necessary world building is done. Once we leave Rey to catch up with Poe and Finn there is plenty of action as they are trying to receive some message from a spy in the First Order, but because of how things play out I am not sure that was really all that important. Not to mention Poe and Finn quite early on in the film break some of the previously established lore when it comes to hyperspace travel.
We also see that Kylo Ren has had his helmet repaired and find out that Emperor Palpitine is still hangin around since Vader threw him down the second Death stars reactor core somehow. This is vaguely explained away by use of a mix of Sith alchemy and clone technology. Palpatine tells Kylo that he has been every voice inside his head. This to me emphasizes just how much of a paper tiger Snoke was, and to be honest it’s just plain lazy to rehash an old villain. We’ve all seen Palpatine before and if you were one of the poor suckers who held hope that some of the expanded universe that was relegated to “Legends” status when Disney took over, then you have likely heard that Palpatine was reanimated into a clone numerous times before. If memory serves me it was done in a graphic novel series called Dark Empire. When I heard the comments from Kathleen Kennedy saying they didn’t have 800 page novels to fall back on when creating these films I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. They gave us new heroes, surely they can give us new and interesting villains.
Through a majority of this film I simply had to do as Obi Wan advised and let go of my anger, simply go along for the ride. The times I was able to do that I was fine, having a good time watching space ships, and strange new characters. Seeing Poe realize how hard leadership from the rear as an officer is. Finn trying during momentary slow times to tell Rey something, but they never had any time alone for him to do so as they chased after a Sith wayfinder which was an absurd choice in the naming of this device. I understand if they were trying to appeal to a broader audience but chances are a lot of Star Wars fans were going to see this film and calling it a Sith holocron wouldn’t have muddied things too much. I am sure plenty would be more than happy to break it down for others who were not in the know.
Rey, Poe and Finn go to a planet to find one of these things while Leia looks on trying to rally friends of the resistance which are nowhere to be found as yet. They bump into Lando Calrissian who tells them he and Luke tracked a Jedi killer to the desert planet where his perfectly working ship is just waiting for someone to pick up the clues. Now to me it’s much too convenient that nobody has at least scavenged this thing or that Lando is still there after all this time when we know Luke left a while ago. There’s a cute celebration alluding to them commemorating the inception of the original films, and within seconds after a chase scene they land in quick sand only to find some Sith dagger which if the inscriptions can be translated will lead them to the other wayfinder. The leap of logic here that they find what Luke and Lando were searching for years to find took them mere moments makes me believe that the same person who wrote the rat scene in Avengers End Game that brings Antman back from the quantam realm had to have something to do with these plot points as well. Since C3PO refuses to translate the etchings on the dagger since it’s forbidden within his programming they give us another funny enjoyable character Babo Frick.
This tiny unintelligible space muppet was hilarious and despite him not making much sense I wanted more of him. They also gave us a few more new characters which honestly didn’t have much to do other than help the main cast along. We get an old acquaintance of Poe’s who stays helmeted and they hint at her possibly being a love interest from when he was a smuggler. She gives him a way to get on one of the Star destroyers and comes back in during the final fight but doesn’t account for much else. Janna who we meet on the moon of Endor where the remnants of the second Deathstar lands has a similar story to Finn’s as reformed First Order Storm trooper who was taken as a child who furnishes a way for Rey to get to the wreckage to find the Sith Wayfinder after using the Sith Dagger’s cool Goonies like apparatus pointing out where exactly to begin looking. I know it seems silly to question things where people fight in space and move objects with their minds, but it still comes off as laughable even after you suspend a majority of your belief.
If it seems like I am all over the place, I am just like this movie was. I also forgot to mention that we finally get to know of Rey’s parentage. Turns out she’s a Palpatine! Palpatine who supposedly was everyones voice in Kylo Rens head, and Snoke said he orchestrated Kylo and Rey’s force connection yet Palpatine never mentions that part to Kylo seems funny. The Sith troopers looked cool but sadly performed no better than regular troopers from what I saw and the Knights of Ren would have been better labelled as the Knights of Palpatine since they held no allegiance to Kylo once he took up arms at Rey’s side.
I know it seems like I am complaining a lot which is in direct conflict with me saying I enjoyed this film, but I did. We got answers to some of our lingering questions from the previous films. Not all of it was satisfying but I was not unhappy with it. A lot of this film made no sense but for me it didn’t have to and considering what Abrams had to work with it was an uphill battle to begin with. The action as wacky as some of it was good. We get new force powers which were first hinted at in the Mandalorian and then Palpatine does some crazy powerful and miraculously accurate stuff with force lightning. If you don’t believe me watch it again and ask yourself why only resistance ships are effected by his massive blasts? Again some of this stuff makes absolutely no sense, but I can honestly tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed watching it for the most part.
Going forward from what I have heard is that they will no longer be doing the films in groups of trilogies which I think is a smart move. I didn’t hate the Last Jedi but there were things done that hindered my enjoyment of it. For more on that you can refer to my review of that film. There were storylines and plot points set up in the Force Awakens that were tossed aside and it seemed as if Abrams said “right back at you” when Luke’s force ghost catches his lightsaber as Rey tries to discard it once again. If we can learn anything from the first season of Game of Thrones its that character deaths should mean something to the audience and you cheapen that if you bring them back suddenly. If you haven’t seen this film yet read all of this first of all why, but I would say go see it and judge for yourself. You may get some clarity and finality as they had closed this chapter, perhaps not. Upon further thought I give this film a C after consideration of all the plot holes, but I still say you can have a good time if you let yourself go. I would love to hear your opinions below. Until next time.