The long-held tradition of critics hating Star Wars continues with The Rise of Skywalker. My experience with the movie left me wondering, “Are the critics watching the same film I am?”
Let me start by saying that I am a huge Star Wars fan. My home office is decorated entirely in Star Wars posters and knick-knacks, I grew up in the prime Star Wars era where I had a good 16-17 years of exposure prior to the release of the prequels, and I’m a huge nerd for all things sci-fi.
Whether the level of my fandom attributed to my enjoyment of the film or not is up to the reader to determine for themselves.
A Good End for Some, Beginning for Others
Much of the mixed response to Rise of Skywalker came about because it appeared as though too many threads and “plot holes” were left unanswered at the end of the film. Characters we grew up knowing and came to meet throughout the latest trilogy played out their stories in Rise of Skywalker naturally.
For Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, R2-D2, and C-3PO, this was the culmination of over four decades of storytelling. Did it reach the creshendo worthy of such a storied franchise? Yes, indeed it did.
Newer characters were given a different type of finale here. Threads of storylines introduced by them throughout the saga were either tied off or pulled a little further. No definitive ending was given to many newer characters, with some being introduced first in The Rise of Skywalker and given a clear head-start into their own stories.
While yes, the movie ends without every answer, we get enough information to take the stories further. There is even one moment where a major character, in their last scene in the movie, utters the words, “Well, let’s find out.”
A Fitting Sendoff for Leia
Carrie Fisher is no longer with us, but her role in Skywalker is no-less critical than it could have been if she were. She was the keystone to two major plot lines involving characters she loved, and was given a touching sendoff before fading into the universe forever more.
Leia’s part in ROS was very well done. I could tell her part was abbreviated, and that lines were written around stock footage and audio from her, but she certainly played an active participant in the narrative.
There are two scenes in particular, however, where another character had to step in an deliver the lines that were almost certainly originally planned for Fisher. This was done tastefully, albeit rushed, and in a way that payed homage to the late actor’s work rather than to detract from it.
I Identified with Luke
Luke Skywalker’s role was redefined in this film, and in a way that made the character’s history make more sense across the original trilogy and into this new one. I left Rise of Skywalker feeling as though Luke’s arc had been concluded in the best way it possibly could.
Without saying too much about the specifics, Luke’s journey from child to adult is finally complete. The proverbial torch has been passed, and now is Luke’s time to cheer from the stands.
If there is one critique I would give Rise of Skywalker, it would be that the pacing was far too quick for the story it told. This could easily have been a two-part movie, spanning four or five hours in total. There are moments where major plot points are reached only to immediately cut to another scene entirely. At times, this felt jarring.
If we were at home, my wife and I would have been mashing the pause and rewind buttons on our remote controls constantly throughout the first and second acts.
Towards the end of the film, the pace relaxed a bit and we caught glimpses of a Star Wars tale told the way it was during the original trilogy. It would have been nice if this had been how Skywalker could have been made.
C-3PO’s Time to Shine
C-3PO has always played the role of comic relief throughout the franchise. Unfortunately, his importance to the plot and ability to consistently deliver witty lines has long been stifened by “more important” characters doing more important things.
Not here. Not in Rise of Skywalker. Anthony Daniels absolutely stole the show from his first appearance to his last. This was C-3PO’s movie. No doubt about it.
I couldn’t have been more impressed by how well-written the character was in this installment. No other actor could have delivered those lines with the gravity and hilarity as Daniels did here.
Finally, let me focus a bit on the elements of nostalgia scattered throughout Rise of Skywalker. It’s everywhere, and at times it does feel as though Abrams wanted nothing more than to bring fans old and new alike on a trip down memory lane.
Personally, I loved this. The fan service wasn’t too in-your-face, but it was there and it was handled very well. At the end of such a long epic, told across so many novels, comics, and movies over the decades, it was nice to see so many familiar faces.
C-3PO said it best when he said he was, “Taking one last look, sir, at my friends.”