Updated: Jan 18, 2020
I write this review with a heavy heart. Star Wars has been my favorite thing since I was probably 6 or 7 years old, and there have been A LOT of ups and downs. It’s a series that transports you to a mysterious and awesome universe of sci-fi, magic, and action, with characters that you grow to love and root for. And I was rooting for Rey, Kylo, Poe, Finn, Rose, and the rest of this new gang of Rebels we met in 2015 with The Force Awakens, and then got to know in The Last Jedi. But The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t finish their stories. For the most part, it derails, ignores, and waters down the characters into their basic parts and sends them on a convoluted adventure that both doesn’t satisfy the ending of the Skywalker Saga, and doesn’t satisfyingly wrap up the stories of the new main cast. It does a disservice to both, and ends the trilogy on a low note.
To interject some positivity into this disappointment-fueled review, there were some great visuals in The Rise of Skywalker. We hopped through like 14 different planets throughout the film, and most of them were beautiful. Sadly, the final set-piece is a CGI-fest that harkens back to the prequel era rather than the practical effects of the Original Trilogy. I said I was going to be positive but that’s all I can muster. Some of the jokes landed, I guess. The actors give it their all, too.
The Rise of Skywalker also fails its action scenes. There are three significant lightsaber battles in this movie, and none of them are a wow moment. They’re often shot in close-ups, fast cuts, and either don’t let the scene breathe at all, or are slow-paced to the point of boredom. The massive scale of the space battles make it feel like you can’t focus on any one part of it, making them feel disjointed as well.
Where The Last Jedi made it about the characters, TROS made it about the plot (and there’s just so much plot). Where TLJ made the Force an energy that binds us and guides us, TROS makes it about lifting rocks. Where TLJ told us that anyone can be a hero, TROS says you have to be special. Where The Last Jedi moves the series forward, TROS walks it back.