‘Rise of Skywalker’ Uneven but Gets the Job Done

The latest Star Wars has received a lot of flack from critics and fans alike for sloppily wrapping up the Star Wars saga. Cover photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Alex Goodlive
Arts & Entertainment Staff Writer

This review vaguely discusses plot points, but there are no spoilers that weren’t publicly known before the film was released. 

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” gives fans what they want in a fitting finale even if the ride there is a bit bumpy. It’s neither the masterpiece I hoped for nor the piece of garbage one might find in the Death Star’s trash compactor.

After the frankly underwhelming “Last Jedi,” director JJ Abrams had the difficult task of winning back the fans while bringing the Skywalker saga to a close. Abrams doesn’t seem entirely up to the task as the first half of the film moves at a fast, yet rather dull pace. The Emperor is brought back with little explanation or suspense and Rey and her friends go off on a mission to some desert planet to find the Emperor and Kylo Ren. Lando shows up, not to actually affect the plot, but for nostalgia. Stormtroopers show up and out of obligation, we watch a chase scene. It’s not as if nothing of interest is happening, but the effort to bring back the allure of the original trilogy seems to fall short.

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In time, though, Abrams figures out how to hit the right notes. It’s the last half of the film that feels like somebody understood why these movies are supposed to matter. Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, is tempted by the power of the dark side, but stands against evil regardless– perhaps the most interesting side of Ridley’s role. Ren, the villain of the last two movies played by Adam Driver, finds himself seeking redemption. It’s his best performance in the trilogy yet. Driver masterfully plays the power-loving villain torn by the good that remains in him. This is the understanding that Star Wars is about more than cool ships and lightsabers; it’s about the struggle between good and evil that captures the love of millions of fans.

None of this is to say that the ending is perfect. The final battle is predictable and seems like an excuse to toss in the characters Abrams wasn’t sure what to do with. Ships blow up, good guys fight bad guys…you know the drill. But for all of its faults, “Rise of Skywalker” is at least an almost-fitting goodbye from a beloved saga in need of one.

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