Release: 2019 Director: J.J Abrams

All right, I’ll talk about it. I saw this on opening night, as is tradition, but coming up with what to say has been hard. I remember coming out of The Last Jedi, as I do with many films, raving about it and saying how much I loved it. It was on reflection (and seeing it several times in theaters) that I came to the realization that it didn’t hold up to the initial hype I had given it. So now that I have had that time to process what the latest film in the saga has shown me, is it the final film that Star Wars fans have yearned for?

Right away I was pulled between two halves of myself. I loved the opening, it sets up insane stakes that pit good vs evil in probably the biggest way the series has ever shown us. Is it insane how fast they do it? Sure, but we don’t have all day and man do I love Palpatine. More on that later. And thats when we get back to our heros and what they have been up to since the end of TLJ. Here the films pacing takes a nose dive as they go on a galactic scavenger hunt to find out how to stop the oncoming evil.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Star Wars has always been about the insanity of having space wizards involved in a political war with the ability to jump between planets. Having a hunt for an artifact to stop the greatest evil in the galaxy isn’t as crazy as it sounds, it’s just the film seems to rush the first half of the story to get to what it really wants to tell us. As an audience member I get thrown around so many different places and instances that it is a bit much to take in. All while still dealing with the emotional turmoil between Rey and Kylo that has been the center of the sequel series.

After the first half, the film finally finds it’s footing and you can feel it start to get into a rhythm. Once our characters find what they have been searching for, either physically or “within themselves,” we get to what Star Wars should feel like. High stakes, crazy villains and our proud heros. There are questions that are answered, loose ends tied together, and a finale that I can honestly say I am satisfied with.

I should go ahead and praise The Rise of Skywalker for it’s attention to what makes the series so great, it’s lore. It understands that there is not only 40 years of films for us as fans to look back on fondly, but also other TV shows and comics, plus new shows and a future for what the series can still bring us. I have seen that others bash the use of fan service in this, or at least question it, but I will say that I greatly enjoy it. I am a huge fan of Star Wars, and this does feel like a finale in a way that acknowledges what has come before it. There is reverence to the past, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

I also want to talk real quick about how much I love Palpatine. He has always been one of my favorite aspects of Star Wars (even though he is also dumb, but that’s a different rant) and I was worried about him being in this. I was wrong to worry, he is just as awesome as before. Ian McDiarmid has always given the character an insane amount of menace in his performance and he displays it in full force in TRoS.

Now that I have praised it, time to take the rose tinted glasses off.

The Knights of Ren were completely useless. JJ, these were your characters and somehow you wasted them more than you did in The Force Awakens. They walked around, looked cool, said nothing and didn’t matter in the slightest.

The story has to take way too much time doing one thing, mending the rift created by The Last Jedi. Yes, that isn’t Abrams fault, but more because the trilogy clearly didn’t have a set idea to focus on when it was started and now that there is only 2 hours to tell the ending you can see where TLJ left nothing for it to work off of. Several moments feel put in as to explain holes from the previous film. On the flip side there are scenes that actually work with what was given in TLJ, but those don’t make up for what had to be fixed.

I know I am in the minority on the internet that even says that The Rise of Skywalker is even “good.” Which is a shame, I really do think that the critiques of this have been way too harsh. Yes, it has problems. It isn’t a perfect film, but if we’re being honest is any Star Wars? Even what most consider the “best”, The Empire Strikes Back, has it’s own flaws. What The Rise of Skywalker has is that sense of wonder. It feels like a epic space fantasy. The sense that our heros are fighting for a cause against all odds. The crazy end battle. The Jedi vs Sith. It is all here and I believe that it does end the series with a positive message and hope.

I give The Rise of Skywalker a big thumbs up, just not two of them. If you love Star Wars, this will give you that feeling of nostalgia and reaching for your lightsaber all over again, just like it did all those years ago when a title card rose from the bottom of our screens in 1977.

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