Despite the current Rotten Tomatoes score of 58%, making it one of the lowest-ranked Star Wars movies of all time, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, was actually one of my favorite movies in the epic saga of nine episodes. I do tend to cry a lot while watching movies (as long as it has good music), but this epic film made me sob and was a wonderful conclusion to a saga that I have been a fan of since my childhood. Seeing the worlds of the original trilogy, the infamous prequels, and the most recent trilogy combine is truly a magical experience, even though at times it feels like there is too much being packed in with the goal of appeasing as many fans as possible (fan service is becoming more and more popular these days).
Returning to the series must have been a challenge for J.J. Abrams after Johnson’s The Last Jedi (one of the most dividing Star Wars movies), but he manages to tie in the stories that might not have been ideas of his own. There were also rumors that Rise of Skywalker was meant to focus on Carrie Fisher’s Leia, but due to her untimely death in 2016, those plans had to be changed. The movie does pay a nice tribute to her, using archival footage unused from The Force Awakens (2015). Fisher’s daughter, Billy Lourd, also makes an appearance in the film, returning as Lieutenant Connix.
As the past two movies in the trilogy have done, Rise of Skywalker goes deep into the themes of hope versus fear, family and friends, and the grey area in between good and evil. There are quite a few scenes that will make you stop and think about when you can truly draw the line between a “hero” and a “villain” and just how far redemption can go. Some character arcs may not have been as fully developed as I would have liked, but fans of the main characters should be satisfied.
Something that always touches me about the most recent trilogy in the Star Wars saga is the nostalgic aspect. Even though it has a tendency to show off the incredible movie technology that has been developed in recent years, there are still the cheesy transitions in between scenes that will remind younger movie-goers of the days of making PowerPoints back in grade school. Thinking about the fact that this might be the last time we hear new music from John Williams in Star Wars is a bit upsetting, but hearing his powerful themes one last time brought tears to my eyes, whether it was the dark tones of the First Order or the uplifting strings of Rey’s theme.
Ultimately, I would call The Rise of Skywalker a success. Even though it has some flaws, the movie manages to wrap up major plotlines while paying respect to the classic trilogy (with some cameos that literally made me shriek with excitement in the cinema). The combination of cheesy nostalgia and heart-stopping action manages to blend into a beautiful story with only a few questionable choices and flaws. But if you go into Rise of Skywalker expecting a perfect movie, you’re going to be disappointed. Go in ready to enjoy seeing some of Lucasfilm’s most iconic characters one last time – At least until you can make it to one of the iterations of Galaxy’s Edge in the Parks.