“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” takes on two lofty tasks: tying up the story of eight movies, many television shows and many more books before it and pleasing fans of the original “Star Wars” (1977) release. It successfully accomplishes both of these tasks.
Throughout the film, there are tiebacks to the original and prequel trilogies, with actors reprising their roles, iconic music throughout and classic Star Wars themes such as good versus evil.
Carrie Fisher’s reprisal as Princess Leia/General Organa was heart-wrenching. Seeing her on screen after her death was almost unnerving, but she served a vital role to the film and was made to fit in as if nothing was different. She also had a fitting character arc to finish out the saga. Also notable was the return of Billy Dee Williams as fan-favorite Lando Calrissian. Other important characters made appearances visually and aurally who will not be named due to the nature of their appearance spoiling parts of the story.
The film also brought back the old Star Wars magic that some viewers felt was missing from the previous movie, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It was lighthearted, but it also maintained a sense of seriousness and even somberness when needed. The jokes were not overdone and did not detract from any serious situations. There were even plenty of moments to cry during the film.
Although there were plenty of older tiebacks to the rest of the series, the film boasts many of its own additions. For example, there is the introduction of the Jetpack Stormtroopers, featured in trailers, and a few other new additions to the First Order’s arsenal throughout the film. It also brings back some loose end villains featured earlier in the sequel trilogy. There are new ideas about what The Force can do, further expanding upon what was previously established. Even the idea of lightspeed travel has its own update.
“Rise of the Skywalker” also took notes from one of the better parts of the prequel trilogy: well-choreographed and intense lightsaber fights. Unlike the original trilogy, which featured almost robotic fights compared to those that would follow it, there was a lot of movement, no shying away from the use of The Force and violent actions.
The movie also took inspiration from the success of the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian.” Although it in no way shied away from epic space battles, lightsaber fights and blaster shootouts, the film also provided some insight into the rich universe that the series takes place in on a smaller scale. There were a few instances where the audience gets to see alien culture, and notably, the effect of the First Order on the average people out in the universe.
However, there were some confusing and frustrating parts to the movie. There were relationships between certain characters that were questionable, and it even subverted the previous buildup in the other two films of the sequel trilogy.
Also, the movie didn’t start with the reintroduction of Emperor Palpatine to the universe, one of the twists through which the movie’s first trailer built hype. Instead, the universe-scale introduction happens off-screen and characters briefly mention it at the beginning. The audience gets a semi-reintroduction to the character that left me wanting more.
The ending of the movie also left some questions. The future of Star Wars content is bright with series like “The Mandalorian,” but the resolution of some character arcs left me wondering whether they are planning to continue with the characters of the sequel trilogy.
There were also some step backs on previous Star Wars lore that made me wonder if it was simply a changing of the story, or if it was a purposeful loose end for the deeper fans to pick up on as a flag for a continuation of the story on the horizon.
Looking over these missteps, it is important to consider that the film had a lot on its plate to tie up a series spanning such a long time period that has been touched upon by many different creative visions. Overall, the movie was very enjoyable and impressive to watch.
Take it from the fan who has a Star Wars tattoo, wore Star Wars socks and a Star Wars shirt to see the movie and bought a collectible Star Wars popcorn tin at the theater: the movie is a must-see conclusion that Star Wars fans deserve.