‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’: A Disappointing Ending to a Legendary Saga

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The Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker poster as seen on social media and in movie theaters. The poster release caused fans, both devoted and casual, much excitement. The poster depicts a lightsaber battle between the main protagonist in the film, Rey, and the main villain Kylo Ren. In the background of the poster is a face any Star Wars fan will know: Emperor Palpatine.

Sydnee Rockey, Staff Writer

“A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…” Those words have sent goosebumps up the arms of audiences for the past four decades, starting on May 25, 1977, with the release of Star Wars: A New Hope. The franchise has gone on to produce three highly successful trilogies, hundreds of thousands of comic books and novels alike, video games, TV shows (both animated and live-action), and memories for people regardless of age. The movies will forever be passed down from generation to generation, with everyone sharing the “correct order” to watch the movies (order of release, obviously). On December 20, 2019, the final installment of the “Skywalker saga” was released in theaters, closing the stories of characters who have meant so much to so many people. Audiences anxiously made their way to the theaters to see if the film did the saga justice, and concluded the stories of the Skywalker family in an impactful and fulfilling way. 

Warning: this review includes major spoilers from the film. I recommend not reading this review until after you have seen the film.

The film was a chaotic mess, searching to hit the nostalgia of audiences who have both grown up with the film and also have just begun their venture into the world of Star Wars. The whole first half of the film was fast-paced, obviously trying to make up for storylines fans didn’t enjoy in the previous film. No one will be able to genuinely follow the first half of the movie. Audiences are given so much information in the beginning of the film that most casual movie-goers will not see the messy nature of the writing in the film. The movie finally answers the question of Rey’s parentage: she’s the grand-daughter or Emperor Palpatine. But this revelation leaves the question of how the Emperor managed to reproduce (and who would’ve had sex with him in the first place). The idea of being able to heal people using the force is messy as well. Why hasn’t it ever been used before? What was Finn trying to tell Rey? Is Finn force sensitive? How did Finn end up becoming a stormtrooper in the first place? It would’ve been nice to have learned more about Finn, since he’s one of the main characters in the film, and he also has an extremely interesting background given that he was a stormtrooper for the majority of his life. They sidelined both Finn and Poe, the other two members of this trilogy’s trio aside Rey, in order to make room for Kylo Ren.

Some pieces of the film I have elected to ignore completely, for the sake of my sanity. One scene in particular is the Rey and Kylo Ren kiss. It was a completely unnecessary piece of fan-service in the film, used to appease a select audience who wanted the two characters to become romantically involved. The nature of their relationship is very complicated, and can be seen as toxic in many ways. The whole “him torturing her in The Force Awakens and manipulating her for his own agenda in The Last Jedi,” is very unsettling. Not to mention the pain he’s caused to the people she loves. It doesn’t provide a good example of a relationship for young audiences, saying “no matter how much someone hurts you and the people you love, it’s okay to have a romantic relationship with them.” Not to mention that it’s confirmed that Palpatine is Anakin’s father, (created Anakin in Shmi Skywalker’s womb) which would make Rey Kylo’s aunt. This was confirmed in a Star Wars comic, it’s not confirmed in the films at any specific time — but the fact that it could even be canon in the films is a bit messy and disgusting. 

There were moments of the film that felt necessary. Luke giving Rey Leia’s lightsaber, and showing that Leia had begun her training to become a Jedi was very moving and important to see. Then at the end of the film Rey using Leia’s saber to defeat Palpatine was empowering. Chewbacca being given a medal, finally, was both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Going into the film it was known that this would be the end of Leia Organa’s journey, and it was likely she would die in the film, but her death was still hard to watch. Chewbacca’s reaction was tragic and ultimately led me to the point of tears, realizing that he now had to experience the loss of Han, Luke, and Leia, his greatest friends and companions. At the end of the movie, two women kissed for not even a second but it was still there. It could easily have been edited out of the film and was in Singapore since it was not between two main characters and was also barely even focused on. It was a little sliver of LGBTQ+ representation (barely anything) and really showed how little major movie companies actually care about representation in their films. It was still a nice moment to see in the film, but it was obvious they only added it to check off a box to make some people happy while still trying not to make people who are homophobic uncomfortable.

The redemption of Kylo Ren, or Ben Solo, felt extremely rushed in the film. It would have made more sense had there been a redemption arc started in The Last Jedi, but there was not, so his redemption had to be done fast and completely. It still led to a cool fight scene at the end of the film with Rey and Kylo fighting Palpatine alongside one another. The redemption scene also allowed for a nice moment between Kylo and his father, Han Solo, who he previously killed in The Force Awakens. It was nice to see the legendary Han Solo again, especially in the last film of the Skywalker saga. The scene, however, didn’t make any logical sense with Kylo’s character, given that he had fully made up his mind to become the new Supreme Leader in The Last Jedi and also killed his father in The Force Awakens to show that he was truly evil. The Star Wars movies revolve around familial love. Kylo Ren killing his own father in The Force Awakens showed he was truly evil. It also made no sense given that The Force Awakens set him up to be the villain of this trilogy. The re-introduction of Emperor Palpatine made no logical sense given that Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke were set up to be the main villains of the sequel trilogy. It made it seem as though they decided Kylo Ren was so much more interesting than any of the other characters, like Finn and Poe, and deserving of so much screen time. Instead of the redemption arc, they could’ve shown Finn becoming a Jedi and focused more on Poe becoming the leader of the Resistance after Leia’s death. 

The second half of the film and the ending are the better parts of the film. The face-off between Rey and Palpatine is cool. Rey possessing the strength of all the Jedi who have come before her was a beautiful moment, showing her strength and also the strength of the Jedi at the same time was powerful and moving. Hearing the voices of the well-known Jedi was empowering and moving for audiences, causing many tears to be shed. Rey burying Luke and Leia’s lightsabers was moving, taking the Skywalker name, and then finally revealing her own personal lightsaber was a nice ending. The Skywalker story came full circle. It does make one wonder why, if Rey was going to end up taking the Skywalker name anyway, then why didn’t the film-makers just decide to make her Luke’s daughter… It definitely would have made more sense than her being a Palpatine. It would’ve made so much more sense, since the iconic Skywalker lightsaber called to her in The Force Awakens.

I would give this movie a solid 5/10. It made me laugh and cry while reminding me of what I love about Star Wars and also what I don’t love about Star Wars. There were some parts I will forever elect to forget ever happened, those I wish were more in-depth and focused on, and those I am happy finally happened in the film.

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