The Rise of Skywalker
My rating: .5 out of 5 stars
The final film of the Disney sequel trilogy The Rise of Skywalker attempted to salvage any story the three films could have told only to make things even worse. The film was directed by J.J. Abrams who along with Chris Terrio wrote the screenplay based on the story the duo wrote along with Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow.
Kylo Ren obtains a Sith wayfinder that leads to the planet Exegol where he finds a resurrected Emperor Palpatine, who reveals that he created Snoke to rule the First Order and lure Kylo to the dark side. Palpatine unveils the Final Order—a secret armada of superlaser-equipped Star Destroyers—and tells Kylo to find and kill Rey, who is continuing her Jedi training under Resistance leader Leia Organa. Poe Dameron and Finn deliver intelligence from a spy that Palpatine is on Exegol; Rey reads in Luke Skywalker’s notes that a Sith wayfinder can lead them there. Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO depart in the Millennium Falcon to Pasaana, to find a hidden clue leading to a wayfinder. Kylo initiates a Force bond with Rey to discover her location. He travels to Pasaana with his warrior subordinates, the Knights of Ren. With Lando Calrissian’s help, Rey and her friends find the clue—a dagger inscribed with Sith text, which C-3PO’s programming forbids him from interpreting—and the remains of a Jedi hunter named Ochi and his ship. Rey senses Kylo nearby and faces him. The First Order capture the Falcon, Chewbacca, and the dagger. Attempting to save Chewbacca, Rey accidentally destroys a First Order transport with Force lightning. Believing Chewbacca is dead, the group escape on Ochi’s ship. They travel to Kijimi, where a droidsmith extracts the Sith text from C-3PO’s memory, revealing coordinates to a wayfinder. Rey senses Chewbacca is alive, and the group mount a rescue mission to Kylo’s Star Destroyer. Rey recovers the dagger and has visions of Ochi killing her parents. Kylo informs her that she is Palpatine’s granddaughter; Palpatine had ordered Ochi to recover the young Rey, but her parents hid her on Jakku. General Hux saves Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca from execution, revealing himself as the spy. After allowing the group to escape, Hux is discovered and executed by Allegiant General Pryde. The group fly the Falcon to the wayfinder’s coordinates on a moon in the Endor system. Rey retrieves the wayfinder from the crashed second Death Star, but she is met by Kylo, who destroys the wayfinder and duels her. In a dying act, Leia calls to Kylo through the Force, distracting him as Rey impales him. Sensing Leia’s death, Rey is overcome by guilt. She heals Kylo and takes his TIE fighter to exile herself on Ahch-To. There, Luke’s Force spirit encourages Rey to face Palpatine and gives her Leia’s lightsaber. Rey leaves for Exegol in Luke’s X-wing fighter, using the wayfinder from Kylo’s ship. Meanwhile, Kylo converses with a memory of his father, Han Solo. He throws away his lightsaber and reclaims his identity as Ben Solo. Sensing Leia’s death and Ben’s redemption, Palpatine sends a Star Destroyer to destroy Kijimi as a show of force. Rey transmits her coordinates to R2-D2, allowing the Resistance—now led by Poe and Finn—to follow her to Exegol. There, she confronts Palpatine. He demands she kill him to allow his spirit to pass into her. The Resistance launch an attack on the Star Destroyers and Lando arrives with reinforcements from across the galaxy. Ben overpowers the Knights of Ren and joins Rey, but Palpatine drains their power to rejuvenate himself. He incapacitates Ben and attacks the Resistance fleet with Force lightning. Weakened, Rey hears the voices of past Jedi, who give her strength. Palpatine attacks her with lightning, but Rey deflects it using Luke and Leia’s lightsabers, killing Palpatine before dying herself. Ben uses the Force to revive Rey and they kiss before he dies. The Resistance defeats Palpatine’s remaining forces, while people across the galaxy revolt against the First Order. The Resistance celebrate their victory. Rey visits Luke’s abandoned homestead on Tatooine and buries Luke and Leia’s lightsabers. A passerby asks her name; seeing Luke and Leia’s Force spirits nearby, she responds, “Rey Skywalker”.
John Williams’ score is once again the highlight of the film that not only featured new themes for the film but also brought back previous ones for the saga’s finale. Like the previous film, the visuals that are featured throughout the film standout amongst the franchise. These few positives of the film are a drop in the bucket to all the retconning and course correction that J.J. Abrams and all the other writers connected with the film had to deal with while making a coherent installment in the franchise. The first problem was the return of Palpatine that effectively negated Anakin Skywalker’s redemption arc and that the former Emperor’s return was announced in crawl instead of a surprise return within the film itself. With the former Emperor’s return, it undermines Kylo Ren’s ascension and intwines Rey into this new arc as her paternal grandfather who apparently can’t decide between killing her or having her kill him before learning he could drain their power to rejuvenate himself physically. The expansion of the Force abilities in this film is just amazing in face of making the story work as well as the apparent short time this all took place. With these issues the sequel trilogies for main actors—Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac—and the returning Ian McDiarmid can only do so much to make this story presentable on screen. After the misplaced backlash of the previous film Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico is barely seen and replaced by another character as Finn’s counterweight, Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux is killed off like a punk by Richard E. Grant’s more competent Pryde. The special appearances of Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford essentially showed the failure of their previous use in this trilogy and it’s hard to grade the CGI use of Carrie Fisher as Leia because there was only so much, she could be in the film. Honestly, it’s hard to give a balanced review of this film because it’s the culmination of the mistakes Disney made throughout the entire process of creating this trilogy and frankly it’s just a bad film and awful installment in the franchise.
The Rise of Skywalker exists, unfortunately.