Star Wars is one of the biggest pop culture phenomena in history, so naturally expectations were high for The Rise Of Skywalker, which not only serves as the conclusion to the Sequel Trilogy, but also the Skywalker Saga that spans across nine films. SPOILER ALERT: this review discusses significant plot points from the movie.
A year after the events of The Last Jedi, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is drawn to the planet Exegol, where he is confronted by the resurrected Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Palpatine intends to give Ren a fleet of advanced Star Destroyers that will transform the First Order into the Final Order – but only if he kills Rey (Daisy Ridley). Rey, alongside Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) race to find a device that can lead them to Palpatine and stop the Final Order. All the while, Ren taunts Rey with the truth about her parents.
If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Returning director J.J. Abrams, who kicked off the sequel trilogy with The Force Awakens, packs as much as he can into the screenplay he co-wrote with Chris Terrio for a two-hour, 22-minute running time. The end result feels extremely fast-paced; it isn’t until the end of the first act that the movie slows down. Many characters, including the helmeted Zorri Bliss (Keri Russell), archer Jannah (Naomi Ackie) and mechanic Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) don’t have much to do. Even the dreaded Knights of Ren feel more like extras.
Star Wars fans have begun to hotly debate the revelations that arrive over the course of the story. From Palpatine’s return to the nature of the bond between Ren and Rey, some of these revelations bring the Sequel Trilogy into a whole new light; others have me scratching my head.
The highlight of the movie is the chemistry between Rey, Finn, and Poe, as well as the dynamic between Rey and Ren. Ridley, Driver, Boyega, and Issac dig deep into their characters to find new dimensions, and the results tugged at my heartstrings. Rey finally confronts the truth behind about her parents and struggles with upholding the legacy of the Jedi. Finn has grown more courageous and confident. Poe steps up to lead the Resistance. Ren continues to wrestle with the light and dark inside of him, leading to one of the most emotional moments in the movie.
The film also boasts several returning characters, including the spirit of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the Coolest Man in the Galaxy, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher, whose role here is pieced together via unused footage from The Force Awakens). There are also several vocal cameos from the original and prequel trilogies, and even the animated series. There is something for every Star Wars fan in this film.
Although it might be a little jam-packed and messy, The Rise Of Skywalker is ultimately an emotional, exciting end to the Skywalker Saga. I don’t know what the future of Star Wars holds, but I’m glad I got to witness the Sequel Trilogy and I know that it will serve as the entry point to a whole new generation of fandom.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 lightsabers