The Rise of Skywalker Review: A Lovable Mess
- - Convincing performances by the two leads
- - Awesome battle sequences, cool effects
- - Fitting send-off for Leia
- - Answers our burning questions
- - Too much happening too fast
- - Plot holes all over the place
- - Relies too heavily on nostalgia
- - Disturbing lack of Porgs!
As we were walking out of the theater tonight, my husband asked what I thought of The Rise of Skywalker. My response? “It was a giant, bloated Disney-fied mess…but I kind of loved it.” Even after letting it sit for a couple hours, that statement still stands.
While The Mandalorian (Disney+, our review) has taken a “less is more” approach to Star Wars, The Rise of Skywalker definitely went in the “more is more” direction. Stuff blowing up all over the place, plot twists and big reveals comin’ atcha at rapid speed. There’s a scene where the Millennium Falcon keeps going into Hyperdrive over and over again, jumping around through space to get away from the bad guys. That’s often how this movie felt—lightspeed paced. It’s like they tried to cram six hours of movie into two, but not all of it was bad.
The Good Side
There are two things, well people, that really carry (and save) this movie: Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley. I’ve loved Driver’s take on Kylo Ren since the beginning (and he continues to shine here), but this is the first film where Rey has really come alive for me. Getting more of her backstory (Just kidding guys, she’s not actually a nobody, she’s the granddaughter of Palpatine!) does make her powers a bit more believable and gives some dimension to her character. Rey and Kylo share a lot of screen time in The Rise of Skywalker, and there’s certainly a whole lot of chemistry there. Their fight scenes/lightsaber battles were all awesome.
Speaking of chemistry, we also got a lot more of the Poe and Finn bromance. They’re no Han and Luke, but Oscar Isaac and John Boyega play off of each other well and are fun to watch.
One of the biggest questions I had going into this film was how they were going to wrap up Leia’s story. Princess Leia, General Leia, whatever you want to call her, she’s one of the greatest kick-ass female characters of all time and deserves a proper send-off. I found it fitting that her final act was to use her force powers to speak to her son, bringing him back to the good side with her love. Did that scene totally make sense? Not really? But I liked it.
And then there’s Lando. I mean, he really didn’t do much to progress the plot, but goodness, that Billy Dee Williams is a likable guy!
The Dark Side
The first half of The Rise of Skywalker felt a lot like watching one of those Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser. You know, how it seems like they make the plot up as they go? Gotta find the wayfinder to get to Palpatine! But first must escape quicksand and translate clues written on a special dagger! I don’t know, it’s all kind of Indiana Jones and silly.
A lot of The Rise of Skywalker is silly. Obviously, one goes into a Star Wars movie expecting to suspend belief, but watching Finn jump onto and then stand on top of the Falcon as it flies around was just laughable.
The other scene that made me literally laugh out loud (LLOL?) was when General Hux was revealed to be the secret spy for the resistance. It was pretty obvious when he shot down a bunch of Stormtroopers and freed Chewie, Finn and Poe, but he had to yell out, “I’M THE SPY!” in case we didn’t get it.
And there are plot holes. A lot of plot holes. The whole Palpatine thing was not really explained at all. It’s basically like “Hey guys, Palpatine is back and we gotta go fight him!” I do think the big life support contraption he was hooked up to was awesome in the most ridiculously absurd kind of way.
Let It Go, Let It Go
All the nostalgia in The Force Awakens made sense. At this point though, it’s just getting old. As a different Disney cash cow movie once said, “Let it go.”
Ghost Luke showing up, OK, makes sense. Dead Han Solo making an appearance, alright I guess. EWOKS? Just stop.
Still Something Special
Here’s the thing: even with the overdone nostalgia and the plot holes and the manically-paced ridiculousness, I had a blast watching The Rise of Skywalker.
At one point tonight I looked over at my 7 year old, dressed up in his Finn costume, fingers gripping the armrest in between us in suspense, and got a little teary eyed. I’ve been watching these movies now since I was his age! They say this is the “final” chapter, but we all know there will be more. And they’ll keep messing them up, and we’ll keep complaining.
But we won’t stop going, because there’s something special about Star Wars, that, much like the Force (or how one survives being thrown into the Death Star’s reactor), is hard to explain.