WARNING: This in-depth review of The Rise of Skywalker contains spoilers! So if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t continue reading!
Good, now that that’s out of the way, yesterday I went to see The Rise of Skywalker a second time. First time around I needed some time to let it all sink in and yesterday I was able to look at it differently, knowing what would come and being able to pay some more attention to the details.
The movie starts with the classic “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” followed by the yellow Star Wars logo and the scrolling letters. What surprised me was that the name of Palpatine was mentioned in this particular piece of text. I already knew that the former Emperor was supposed to make some sort of return in this movie, but seeing it so early caught me off-guard.
Then we follow Kylo Ren as he chases down the Sith Wayfinder which he needs to get to Exegol, an ancient Sith planet. Once he gets his hands on it, he travels down to Exegol and finds an enormous structure. There he meets Palpatine, who admits that he’s been pulling all the strings and that Snoke was a creation of his. Finally the fans get an answer where Snoke came from, which had obviously bothered a lot of fans. They can finally rest easy knowing he was a creation from old papa Palpy. I loved seeing the cloning vats in these scenes and Palpatine still going strong, but admitting that he had died before. A lot of people hate Palpatine, but I’ve always loved him and his scheming and plotting, although I liked it best during the prequel trilogy and the Clone Wars animated series, before he became the actual Emperor.
Rey is still training hard to become a Jedi and we finally see her doing some actual training for a change. Afterwards she meets up with Leia and she returns Luke’s lightsaber to her, saying that she will earn it one day, but she failed her training routine. I kind of felt that this scene was added to please disgruntled fans, who said Rey could do anything without putting effort into it.
What I really loved was the pace of this movie, it just kept going and going with little time for breathers. The chemistry between Poe and Finn was well done and I really loved seeing them together again in this movie, with Chewie and BB-8 tagging along for the ride. The part where they lightspeed skip with the Millennium Falcon felt a bit unnecessary for me, personally, especially when everyone was saying that the Falcon couldn’t do it, but Poe did it anyway. I also wondered how those pilots chasing them were able to get out of their jumps as perfectly timed as their target. It looked cool, but it didn’t really add much to the plot.
The search for the wayfinder by Rey and her band of adventurers leads them to the Forbidden Valley. I really loved how C-3PO played a much larger role in this movie once again. After being told to shut the hell up in the previous two movies he finally gets a more prominent role.
I loved the chase in the desert after Lando making his big return. It was great to see Billy Dee Williams reprise the role once again, at age 82! And he looked great too! The chase scene itself was great, including some comic relief. The scene that followed with the sinkhole and the caverns underneath the desert felt a bit odd to me. I kept wondering how all of the small pellets were kept into place on the ceiling, but seeing as it’s Star Wars I didn’t bother overthinking it too much for the sake of the story. Rey healing the snake scene was weird. I know it was meant to show her increased powers in the Force and apparently her healing powers, something we hadn’t seen in the movies yet, but still I didn’t particularly like that scene.
Once they found Ochi’s ship and the Knights of Ren were chasing the band I was curious to see if we would finally see the famous Knights in action. So far they’d been given some screen time, but I still don’t really get who they are supposed to be, other than lackeys of Kylo. They certainly look imposing, but from what I could see, none of them are Force sensitive, they’re just really good at fighting and chasing people. Similarly to Captain Phasma, I think these characters were a bit underused.
We see that Rey is not in control of her Force powers when she Force Lightnings the transport that subsequently blows up in the process. Just like Rey, I was screaming inside too when she shouted Chewie’s name! I was so glad to find out the big ‘ol fuzzball was still alive and well in the following scene on Kylo Ren’s Star Destroyer.
When it becomes clear that C-3PO needs to be hacked in order to reveal the Sith Wayfinder location we find the band on Kijimi, which is occupied by First Order forces. I just can’t tell you how much I love Babu Frik! He certainly offers a bit of comic relief, and despite his size, he seems to be a very capable droid mechanic. I can imagine Disney making a ton of money on this particular character as he already seems to be a fan favourite.
Once Rey and Kylo have another confrontation came the part I was looking forward to most. The return to the Death Star II wreckage! It just looked so massive and the flooded interior was just great. Rey even passed a section similar to where Obi Wan Kenobi hides from Stormtroopers in Episode IV. A nice little Easter egg, I thought.
The broken Throne Room of the Death Star II was a great sight to see and Rey’s vision with her as a Sith Lord was great too, although that was spoiled by the trailers a little. The duel between Rey and Kylo here was great too, with all of the water and Rey besting Kylo in the end. It really showed us just how far Rey had come although, if Leia hadn’t interrupted the fight, I bet it would have looked quite different.
I couldn’t help but tear up once Leia died from exhausting herself. Especially the scene where Chewbacca finds out the Princess has passed away and he drops to his knees. I felt his loss. He has lost almost everyone dear to him and Leia was the only link left to the Skywalker legacy and the foundation of the rebel cause.
It wasn’t really clear to the viewers first, but Leia used the last of her powers to manifest the late Han Solo, from what I could gather. I know she died before that scene happened, but otherwise her sacrifice just doesn’t make much sense, since she only calls out “Ben”. I thought there had to be more.
The last act of the movie was the absolute best part of the movie. Bringing everything together and building up to the epic confrontation of Rey vs. Palpatine. The ritual to ensure Palpatine’s eternal reign was great. I love Palpatine so much, he really is the epitome of a Sith Lord and just as Rey says that she is all Jedi, Palpatine really is all Sith. His power, his scheming before he became the Emperor, his backup plans to ensure that he would continue to reign, it was all done so well. I really wanted him to win too, but alas, this is still a movie about good vs. evil and you can’t have evil win, of course 😛
Seeing Kylo/Ben redeem himself in this part of the movie was both awesome and sad at the same time. I like the redemption story arc, but to be fair, Ben really did deserve a better ending. I still feel that his sacrifice was unnecessary and would have loved to see him and Rey starting something new.
As far as the ending goes I really missed seeing all of the Force ghosts. We only hear all of their voices, but we don’t see any of them. It would have made so much more sense to actually see them help Rey, than just hearing their voices. I read an article on Reddit stating that this was done due to restrictions in China that prohibit spirits/ghosts from being shown, but this was done with Luke earlier, so it really makes zero sense. Besides, they could have always made two different cuts for different audiences, if you ask me. As it was now, I really missed the impact the voices had.
After the big fight on the ground and in the air/space we see Rey on Tatooine where it all began, so to speak… (depends on how you look at it, of course). I don’t truly understand why Rey had to bury the lightsabers of Luke and Leia at the old Skywalker farmstead, especially since Leia didn’t have any connection to the planet. But I suppose burying hers on Alderaan was an impossibility. The ending was done nicely and it did pay respect to Luke’s legacy and hearing Rey finally say her surname is Skywalker was great. I suppose you don’t want to walk around with the surname of Star Wars’ equivalent of Hitler… 😛 Seeing Rey with her new yellow lightsaber also suggests that she is now perhaps the Bendu, the perfect balance between Dark and Light.
Am I satisfied with The Rise of Skywalker? Yes, I am. I think it’s by far the best movie of the sequel trilogy. I got a lot of what I wanted as a fan. At the same time there were some things I missed, especially the Force Ghosts of all the Jedi at the end was a big miss. And I would have loved to see Ben Solo have a more decent end. I know he had to die and I can accept that, but his death scene as it stands now just felt unsatisfactory. Also, I’d love to see another movie where the Dark Side prevails, like Empire Strikes Back at some point. I know this was supposed to be the ending of the entire saga, so I have high hopes for new movies in the franchise. 😛 I’m just a sucker for the Dark Side.
This movie is probably third in my rating list of all Star Wars movies, with only The Empire Strikes Back and The Revenge of the Sith above it. I’ll try and do a list one day with all 9 movies and how I rate them.
So, do you agree with my views? I’m very curious to find out!
May the Force be with you!