The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.
Concluding a series of nine films as revered as the ‘Star Wars’ series was going to be a tough ask for anyone, and after the scattershot ‘The Last Jedi’, picking up the pieces would be especially hard for returning director J. J. Abrams. That being said, ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is a remarkably inept effort at concluding the series, playing literally element as safe as possible and the end result is a dull and predictable conclusion more akin to bad fan fiction than anything else. ‘The Last Jedi’ made some questionable choices and there’s definitely an element of course correction here which is fine, but the filmmakers have chosen the most linear path to the end, afraid of taking any risks that could have led to a richer, more rewarding experience. We could probably have guessed the destination, but by god the journey to get there is a boring slog.
I’ll start with the good and that’s the performances in the main, namely Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver who I felt were the best element of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. The Rey/Kylo dynamic was something I don’t think any of the filmmakers really got a handle on despite having two actors that bounced off each other well, but I think Ridley and Driver manage to overcome some of the shoddy scripting to make their scenes more resonant than they could have been. Beyond that, I’m struggling to find much I liked at all, and even the final climactic battle is hard to follow and ruined by the lack of jeopardy that underpins every moment of the film (not to mention the ridiculous horses part, which rivals Leia being fired through space in the last film for over the top, even in a space set series). I also felt the pacing was off throughout and there’s no sense of place, with the plot jumping around various worlds with none of them really feeling lived in, which is something the series has generally done well throughout (and Abrams did this really well in ‘The Force Awakens’). The world building of ‘Star Wars’ has always been one of its biggest strengths, but in the desire to rush towards the inevitable conclusion, everything that happens feels like an afterthought to get us from A to B, and it’s unsatisfying to watch.
The biggest problem with ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is the lack of ambition and the lack of originality and it almost solely relies on nostalgia and the goodwill of fans to get it over the line. That’s not what made this series so popular to begin with, and it’s not sufficient to end it that way, substituting character development for a series of glorified cameos to get a brief cheer from the audience. I suspect like ‘The Force Awakens’, time will not be kind to the lazy filmmaking that J. J. Abrams brought to this conclusion and I thought ‘The Rise of Skywalker‘ was a major disappointment.
Directed By: J. J. Abrams
Starring: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid and Billy Dee Williams