The final installment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy starts where The Last Jedi left off, meaning it starts off where The Force Awakens left off. I’m no The Last Jedi hater, but if I’m being honest, not much happened in that movie. At this point, Rey is still figuring out her powers and who she is, Kylo Ren is still figuring out if he’s completely evil, and Leia has again enlisted the help of Finn and Poe to thwart whatever diabolical plan the First Order has just set into motion.
The Rise of Skywalker has terrible reviews. It has a 58% score on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to The Last Jedi’s 91% – the same The Last Jedi that is perhaps the most polarizing episode in all of Star Wars. Still, The Rise of Skywalker does have an 85% audience score. Going into the movie, I thought, “There’s no way it can be that bad.” And I was pleasantly surprised! As a whole, I truly enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker. That being said, I did have some issues with it.
First, there is one spoiler that made me turn to my friend in the theater and ask, “Was that really necessary?” It is just one thing that the film doesn’t linger on for very long, but at the same time, that just goes to show how unnecessary it was. Crossing out of spoiler territory, it should come as no surprise that there are some fights and action sequences that involve the use of the Force. Unfortunately, these battles aren’t always terribly exciting as they just involve people pointing their hands at each other. It’s kind of the same deal as Harry defeating Voldemort in The Deathly Hallows – hair is being blown back, clothes are rippling, the two sides are clearly straining with effort… but they’re also just standing there. Overall, the action isn’t this movie’s strongest point – the last battle is mindlessly chaotic and difficult to follow.
Perhaps one of the strongest aspects of the film is that we finally get to see the main trio come together. Unfortunately, up until this film, the main trio of Rey, Finn, and Poe didn’t really feel like a trio. In the prequels, it was clearly Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan, and in the original trilogy it was clearly Luke, Han, and Leia. Even though there were pairings within the trios – Anakin and Padme and Han and Leia as the couples, Anakin and Obi-Wan and Luke and Han as the close friends, and Luke and Leia as the twins – it was clear from the beginning that there was a main trio. In the sequel trilogy, there was a bigger emphasis on Rey and Finn in The Force Awakens, which makes sense as Poe was supposed to be killed off initially. Still, Rey is separated from the other two throughout nearly all of The Last Jedi, which is a shame as her character didn’t even get much significant development from her solo quest. Furthermore, the sequel trilogy established strong relationships between Finn and Poe and Finn and Rey early on, but Rey and Poe don’t even meet until the end of The Last Jedi. But, in The Rise of Skywalker, they do have a unique relationship full of banter and a mutual love of BB-8, and as a result, it’s clear both characters and Finn have a place in the main trio.
Ultimately, The Rise of Skywalker is not a bad movie. Sure, I had my issues with it (I didn’t get to talk about the criminal underuse of Lupita Nyong’o!!), but it is still a fun film. I don’t feel an immediate need to re-watch it like I did with The Force Awakens, but I think it’s still worth seeing in theaters. I would just recommend going in with an open mind.