As of late, there is nothing more divisive in the movie world than a Star Wars film. Case in point, The Rise of Skywalker, the epic conclusion to Skywalker saga, is receiving mixed reactions from movie critics.
Now keep in mind the regular viewing audience hasn’t even seen the film yet. So we have yet to hear what fans of the famed movie franchise have to say. With The Rise of Skywalker, it’s quite understandable that critics are expecting a lot from J.J. Abrams. This is the final movie in the saga that spanned over 9 films that introduced iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess/General Leia, Darth Vader, Han Solo, and Emperor Palpatine.
When Abrams hopped back in the director’s chair following Rian Johnson’s polarizing film The Last Jedi, he was tasked to answer many questions the previous movie created and left unanswered while trying to “correct” things. Whether he accomplished that goal, some critics believe he did and then some, while others walked away from the movie utterly disappointed.
Michael Rougeau of GameSpot called the film “A Galatic Disappointment,” placing the blame on Abrams’ inability to let go of the past and move forward while praising Johnson in the process.
“Unfortunately, The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams doesn’t seem to have fully grasped Johnson’s message in The Last Jedi–that we have to “let the past die” to move forward. Johnson sought to establish a fresh direction for the Star Wars saga, but in Rise, Abrams is interested in killing only the parts of the past that he disagrees with. Instead of continuing down the path that Johnson set, Abrams swerves the franchise into yet another hard u-turn, cramming enough story for two movies into one, and largely acting like the previous film never happened–or actively retconning it.”
“The result is a movie that feels less like the conclusion to a Star Wars trilogy, and more like the casualty of a behind-the-scenes battle between the visions of two diametrically opposed directors.”
Jake Coyle for AP News described the film as “a sour end to a grand saga” in his review of the film. He argued that whether you cared or not for Johnson’s The Last Jedi, it was worth having a discussion about unlike Abram’s The Rise of Skywalker. He writes:
“Rian Johnson’s “The Last Jedi,” an erratic but electric movie that, regardless of how you felt about it, was something worth arguing about. The same can’t be said for J. J. Abrams’ “Rise of Skywalker,” a scattershot, impatiently paced, fan-servicing finale that repurposes so much of what came before that it feels as though someone searching for the hyperspace button accidentally pressed the spin cycle instead.”
But, some were left very satisfied with what they saw. While pointing out The Rise of Skywalker is far from perfect, they do acknowledge the movie accomplishes its primary goal. Rafer Guzman from Newsday describes the film as a series’ conclusion that “satisfies” stating in his review:
“When the closing credits roll, you’ll be forgiven if you breathe a sigh of relief. The franchise has ended; your childhood has not been wrecked. The “Star Wars” films are not really over, anyway — just on “hiatus,” per Disney — which means the dead will surely speak again.”
Adi Robertson of The Verge in her breakdown of the film says The Rise of Skywalker is entertaining from beginning to end and captures the essence of the film franchise during its high points but feels there are still many questions left.
“There’s plenty of spectacle and space-fighting to keep The Rise of Skywalker entertaining. Minute to minute, it’s an enjoyable movie. And at its brightest points, it captures Star Wars at its best. But Abrams just hasn’t pared down the bombast enough to keep his story grounded — and with the trilogy at its end, it’s strange to be left with as many new questions as resolutions.”
Now, as to what we thought of The Rise of Skywalker, we loved it. The plot of this film, which can be described as a galactic scavenger hunt, takes shape immediately.
Unlike The Last Jedi, Rey, Chewbacca, Finn, Poe, and the droids come together one last time for a high stakes epic adventure against time to thwart dire consequences.
We learn immediately that Emperor Palpatine is back. As with all villains, he describes that his crusty lightning bolt emitting fingertips have been shaping the futures of Rey and Kylo Ren all this time despite us believing he met his fate after getting tossed down a shaft. From there, it’s a nonstop ride with full-circle moments that should induce smiles, generates oohs, and ahhs, as well as make long-time Star Wars fans shed a tear or two.
Burning questions are answered, the puzzle pieces fit nicely, and the door is still wide open for new stories to be told revolving around the new characters. Plus, the lightsaber action and new force abilities — which will probably spark debate among hardcore fans — were on point. The best part, though, is getting to say goodbye to our favorite Star Wars characters. General Leia, whose appearance in the film felt like a tribute every time she appeared due to Fisher’s passing, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, and Billy Dee Williams’ Lando Calrissian, who is still smooth as ever.
The Rise of Skywalker is a fitting end to the legendary Skywalker saga. We can only imagine where the franchise will go now that it’s on hiatus, we are sure they can think of some new places to take it when it does return.
Photo: Walt Disney Studios / Disney