‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ is mostly entertaining, but feels forced and lazy

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I will confess, seeing this movie was not how I was planning on spending my Friday night. After the atrocious “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, I assumed that “The Rise of Skywalker” would further tarnish my already damaged view of Star Wars. “The Last Jedi” was both forgettable and complicated, often forcing needless plot twists into the movie for shock value. But needless to say, I found myself sitting in the movie theater that night surprised by the film in more ways than one.

Firstly, the movie was not quite as bad as I originally expected it would be. In fact, I would go so far as to state that the movie was pretty good. The action scenes were well-paced and the most exhilarating of the new trilogy. Most of the actors, particularly Daisy Ridley, refined their characters into relatable human beings, a much-needed component in such an outlandish science fiction series like Star Wars. Furthermore, the cinematography and all the technical aspects of the film were incredible, possibly the best in the franchise. The movie actually has a relatively decent plot and ending unlike “The Last Jedi”.  The movie felt satisfying to me with this trilogy and the previous trilogy finally being closed.

However, the movie’s plot, when taking into account the other movies in the trilogy, felt forced, often making one feel as if the film was apologizing for the mistakes made in “The Last Jedi”.  For example, in “The Last Jedi” the presumed antagonist of the trilogy, Supreme Leader Snoke, is killed and Kylo Ren assumes the role of leader of the First Order. While this is already an odd plot twist, the trailer to the “The Last Skywalker” brings it to another level. The trailer reveals that Emperor Palpatine or Darth Sidious will be the main antagonist of the movie. This indecisive approach to the villain of the trilogy role felt lazy. The movie was making up for the unusual decisions in the previous, desperately trying to obtain a solid villain in order to complete the protagonists’ character arcs.

Nevertheless, about an hour in, I reluctantly came to accept Emperor Palpatine’s role as the new villain. After all, he is one of the most iconic and well-developed villains in film history. The most disappointing part of the movie, however, was the sidelining of multiple core characters in the trilogy. Particularly the droids seemed to have no impact on the movie whatsoever. BB-8 and R2D2, two of the most popular characters in the whole franchise, had absolutely no role in the movie. Although it is hard to fully describe the degree in which they are obsolete without spoiling plot points, I will say that the relationship between the droids and the humans, particularly BB-8 and Rey seems to be nonexistent. But possibly the worst part of the movie was the complete disregard for Finn’s character arc in the film. Finn seemed to have no effect on the plot or the development of other characters in the plot. In “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, Finn has quite possibly the most impact on Rey’s character development and possesses an incredibly interesting arc. In “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Finn meets Rose (another character egregiously sidelined, though not as offensive since she’s not a primary character) and together are a primary part of the victory for the Resistance. Meanwhile, in the new film Finn has no effect on both the Resistance and Rey’s journey, often being completed ignored at pivotal points in the movie.

Essentially, the film seemed to prioritize ending the trilogy in a satisfying way above everything else. From plot holes, (which I will not fully explain but there were plenty of) to the disregard of characters, the story of Rey, Kylo Ren, and the Jedi seemed to dominate all aspects of the movie. Usually, these movies have a balance of two stories, the story of the Resistance and the adventure of the Jedi. This idea was nonexistent as the adventure of the Jedi seemed to heavily overtake the story of the Resistance in the movie leading to characters like Finn and Rose being obsolete.

This brings us to the question of whether or not to see the movie. My answer would be its worth a watch. If not for the conclusion of the Skywalker saga, at least for the cinematography and acting in the film. Even though the plot seemed forced and lazy, the conclusion of Rey and Kylo Ren’s journey is both exciting and satisfying.

Grade:

Movie: B+

Trilogy: B-