What you need to know: After the heavily decisive last Jedi, the final installment in the Skywalker saga proves even more polarizing.
What I liked
Fanservice: If you’re simply looking to have your Star Wars pleasure centers stroked, this is the movie for you. The most intense of fanboys hated The Last Jedi. Every moment of this movie is a screed against the former.
Rey/Ben: The couple is the strongest aspect of the trilogy and JJ Abrams upped the ante in this one with “Force time.” Rey and Ben seem to be able to spiritually inhabit the same location even when they aren’t physically together. The Force time scenes add tension and suspense setting up one of the movie’s biggest payoffs. The angst and push/ pull dynamic between Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver carries this flick.
Dark Rey: There’s so much this mishmash of a movie introduced and never followed up on. 45 minutes into the flick there was a realistic notion that Rey could be converted to the darkside. Somewhere around the half way mark of the film the focus shifted from “taking Ben’s hand” to wanting to bone him. A missed opportunity for sure.
Daisy Ridley: I don’t like this movie. The more I consider it, the more disappointed I become. No matter how frustrated I become, Ridely’s performance is the one enduring positive. She held this movie and the trilogy together. This may be sacrilegious but Rey >Luke with all things being equal.
Rey > Luke
Lando: It was great to see Billy Dee Williams return. After all these years he’s still got the charm and charisma of his youth.
The people rise up: In a movie created to have “moments” there are surprisingly few genuine ones. On the verge of losing to the the First Order, the cavalry arrives and the people fight back to rescue themselves. Powerful moment, powerful message.
What I Didn’t
Predictable: The one thing I never expected to feel in a Star Wars movie is nothing. Especially the final Star Wars movie. Especially the movie with such a climactic cavalcade of cameos and spectacular moments that it’s perhaps the most Star Wars movie to ever Star War. So while The Rise of Skywalker boasts some some huge moments and characters you probably thoughts you’d never see again — and I knew as I watched that each of them was spectacular and cool and would delight a lot of people — I just couldn’t care. If only they didn’t feel like ticking items off a list.
Rectoning: The Rise of Skywalker felt like a movie written, produced and directed by a really bad Reddit thread. A movie that unravels all The Last Jedi’s most bold and subversive choices. Rey is a nobody, the daughter of drunkards who sold her off for booze money? She’s Emperor Palpatine’s granddaughter. Poe Dameron’s gung-ho heroism is a clumsy expression of toxic masculinity? Nah, he’s Han Solo version 2. Snoke is dead, because not every Star Wars trilogy needs an Emperor-esque Wizard-Villain? Nah, let’s bring back the ACTUAL Emperor somehow.
No Stakes: There was a moment-a very fleeting one- where I thought JJ. Abrams was going for it. To be exact the moment last from the time it appeared that Chewbacca was killed until we found out that he conveniently wasn’t. This decision symbolizes everything that’s wrong with this film. An amazing consequential moment was later rendered inert. Killing Chewie would have had consequences but he is only the first of three fake deaths in the movie. To make matters worse half the of the movie was an attempt to erase the consequences of the trilogies’ previous installment.
Bottom Line: Rise of the Skywalker is a mess of a movie that attempts to please everyone, dramatically failing to do so.