The Saga Ends. The journey that began with The Force Awakens concludes with The Rise of Skywalker, but does it do so in a satisfying, organic way?
Answering that question isn’t easy. My initial instinct isn’t to love the big finale, given a lot of it feels rushed and at times, laborious. As I saw on Twitter, was there no overall direction for the sequel trilogy? The Last Jedi had the benefit of a director who had inside access to The Force Awakens, but The Rise of Skywalker has had a complicated genesis, with original director Colin Trevorrow leaving the project over creative differences with Disney, and JJ Abrams reworking the story. Say what you will about The Last Jedi (this meerkat enjoyed it), it felt connected to The Force Awakens in a very solid way, whereas The Rise of Skywalker feels like it’s trying very hard to connect to the past, and is forcing (no pun intended) a lot of it.
There’s a lot to wrap up, and this includes the arcs for all the new characters, as well as the original characters. I was wary of bringing back Palpatine, and whilst the malevolent Sith Lord is always a scene stealer, his presence was also forced. It’s implied (very loosely) that he’s a clone, who has been pulling the strings from the shadows, raising questions as to why he’s waited so long before acting. I’m not convinced it was necessary to bring him back;to me, this betrayed a lack of imagination. How about a power struggle between Ren and Hux instead? How about seeing the seeds of rebellion planted in The Last Jedi germinate and grow, in response to a First Order that’s operating with a confused leadership?
There are plenty of enjoyable moments. Rey and Ren have a number of confrontations and a hefty lightsaber duel upon the ruins of the Death Star. Visually, the film is a feast. There are emotional moments (Leia provides quite a few of these). One moment in particular brought me to tears. We see more of the Knights of Ren, though they’re not especially formidable if you ask me. We do get an uplifting scene during the final battle, one that feels quite relevant as we head into an uncertain 2020.
I just don’t know. The Last Jedi gave us a unique approach, breaking the mold and defying expectations. The Rise of Skywalker tries too hard to squeeze everything back into a conventional box. Despite this, I did enjoy the film. 7/10.