Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Director: J.J. Abrams
Screenwriters: J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action
Release Dates: 12/20/19 (Wide); 3/17/20 (Disc/Streaming)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51%
Where to Watch: Disney+

I had put off seeing the final film in the Skywalker saga for a few weeks — and not just because I’d been troubled by the poor-to-mediocre reviews from fans and critics alike. I didn’t want to see this franchise end, just as I was sad with the release of Avengers: Endgame (which I saw opening night). I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters who’d been with me for years (Luke, Leia), including those who were newer but still significant to me (Poe, Rey, Finn). And perhaps, if you weren’t as invested in those younger, newer character as I was, then you might not love the scenes of the trio as much as I did.

And yet, there are plenty of references to films from the original trilogy to please those who grew up with those movies; there is certainly a plenty of fan service in this movie, which I appreciated. (I re-watched Episodes 4-8 in anticipation of this film, skipping over the boring and generally bad prequels).
After seeing The Rise of Skywalker, I genuinely disagree with most of the comments regarding the film. It’s not a perfect movie (the only Star Wars film that could be considered perfect is Empire Strikes Back) but it doesn’t have to be; and it’s a bit longer than is necessary, with a lot of planet-hopping. But it gives us, the audience/viewers, more time spent in this fictional, fantastical universe (i.e. galaxy far, far away).

Anyone who says this film completes ignores the one before it, The Last Jedi (which I really liked), has clearly not been paying attention or is just looking for excuses not to like Episode 9. As for me, I was utterly entertained throughout; I laughed, cried, and was awed by the visual effects. But I think this might be this best acted film in the entire Skywalker saga; while Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford were totally fine in those roles (Ford stands out among them), J.J. Abbrams (who directed this one and Episode 7) cast actors who bring more depth to their roles.

John Boyega and Oscar Isaac have been great, especially in scenes together, but it is Daisy Ridley — who was unknown prior to her role as Rey — who has carried Episodes 7-9. Ridley has been a gift to this franchise, capable of displaying such heartbreak yet also being a total bad-ass. I can’t wait to see what she does next.


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