Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a fast-paced disappointment


Since I was a little kid, I have always been obsessed with Star Wars. I watched each of the movies with my dad which made it a special event to me.

Entranced by the epic scale, unique worlds, and charismatic characters, I found myself looking deeper into the universe of Star Wars and finding a plethora of compelling stories from not only the movies but the shows and books as well. 

I was ecstatic about the release of The Rise of Skywalker. The conclusion to my favorite franchise was, in my mind, almost guaranteed to be an incredible experience, honoring the past while utilizing the excellent setup to craft a complete conclusion that would bring entirely new experiences to the series. 

As I watched the movie, something felt off. I wanted so badly to love it, to get sucked into the world as I had before. But the painful mediocrity and poor execution in concluding the saga prevented me from recapturing that magic.

From the first scene, this movie disorients you with a pace that refuses to slow down and rarely takes its time with the wide variety of new characters and locations introduced. The group is thrown around, forced to chase unnecessary objects made purely to push the action forward in sequences that leave you wondering what the point is. It felt like the movie was putting you in hyperspace and expecting you to see the scenery. This lessened somewhat as the movie progressed, but continued to be a serious problem throughout. 

Lessened time taken per scene reduced the amount of screen time spent developing the new concepts and characters introduced. This is one of the most devastating blows to the movie, ripping character development out of the scenes and reducing to ashes the audience’s capacity to care for this massive ensemble cast. 

I truly did not care about any of the new characters. Any scene where they had a heartfelt moment or were in danger, I felt no emotion because I was not given the time or incentives to connect with these characters in the same way I had connected with the core group of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). 

The direction taken with Kylo Ren and Rey’s relationship is captivating and I was fully engaged in every scene focused on those two. The concept of them being connected was introduced in The Last Jedi, and in this movie it shines, giving emotional character moments and some of the most enjoyable fight scenes in the sequel trilogy. 

Rey is struggling with her own power and a fear of the dark side in this movie and this is complemented by Kylo Ren’s fear of the light side. They are opposite problems but make the two people relate to each other in a way the audience can connect with and care about. Rey and Kylo are constantly working to turn each other while also resisting their own pulls, a duality that causes an incredibly interesting emotional struggle throughout the movie.

The other main characters are a mixed bag. The entire group of Chewbacca, Finn, Rey, C3P0 (Anthony Daniels), and Poe are finally together and the chemistry between that group is relentlessly entertaining. Roaming the galaxy with a group of likable characters felt like it was harkened back to the original trilogy with the group of Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, C3P0, and R2-D2. The past films were sorely lacking this group dynamic so it is rewarding to see this classic Star Wars concept make its return. Unfortunately, personal arcs for several characters in this group are weak or simply nonexistent. 

Finn once again is sidelined and given a new foil. His character has really been given the short straw this whole trilogy, passed back and forth between fetch quests and side plots while given a new female sidekick each movie. This movie is not as egregious as The Last Jedi in its handling of Finn, but it doesn’t do much better, once again wasting the great setup in The Force Awakens

Chewbacca doesn’t do much and feels more like an obligation than a character. C3PO, however, is the opposite. He is more of a main character in this movie than he has been in a long time, offering effective comedy as well as some emotional moments. The utilization of his character is excellent and is one of the best in the skywalker saga.

Unfortunately, my least favorite part of the movie was the villain. It is no secret that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) makes a reappearance in this movie and his introduction seemingly comes out of nowhere. This is never fully explained, but this is the least of his problems. 

In the original and prequel trilogy, the Emperor was a shadowy figure, working in the background to manipulate grand events to his liking. In this movie, Emperor Palpatine is the overly cartoonish bad guy of the week, with a plan that falls apart under the smallest scrutiny and a personality that throws sinister subtlety out in favor of a grandiose performance that detracts from the mysterious power of the character.

Core character problems can be masked by the phenomenal performances across the board. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver perfectly capture the torn nature of the two leads, while Ian McDiarmid recaptured as much of the sinister presence from the earlier movies as possible, battling the poor writing valiantly.

John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Naomi Acki, Anthony Daniels, and Keri Russel compliment the main characters with very solid performances, using their charisma and intensity to make the questionable script somewhat enjoyable to watch. Thinking about the events of this movie can ruin it, but as for what’s on screen, these actors are passionate and engaging.

The movie can be fun to watch if you want popcorn action. Turning off your brain and reveling in the fantastic special effects and mostly well-choreographed action can be a great experience. Everyone can, at the very least, come to the movie with an expectation of dumb fun and be satisfied. However, expecting the movie to deliver elsewhere as other Star Wars movies have will unfortunately leave you disappointed.

This movie has a myriad of problems, but its greatest crime may be that it detracted from the quality of the other two movies by making each movie feel out of place. With no setup for a final villain and no plan for character arcs throughout the three movies, not only did this movie feel rushed and overstuffed, it felt at war with The Last Jedi, the second movie in the trilogy directed by Rian Johnson. Hopefully going forward, Disney will have learned the seemingly obvious lesson that a trilogy must have a plan or it doesn’t feel complete.

This movie was a disappointment for me. The movie overwhelmed me with a flurry of new concepts that were not properly developed and concluded The Skywalker Saga in an unsatisfying way. The charisma of the characters and dazzling special effects redeem this movie somewhat, but the lack of weight to any of the scenes resulted in a movie that feels rushed, disjointed, and forgettable.