I attempted to go with an open mind when going to watch Star Wars: Episode IX - Rise of Skywalker. I had not enjoyed the previous entry in the saga, Rian Johnson's experimental 'subverting expectations' film (Star Wars: Episode XIII - The Last Jedi), which has proven to be perhaps the most divisive movie in recent memory. I did enjoy JJ Abrams nostalgic but very derivative 'Star Wars: Episode XII - The Force Awakens' when it first released, but in retrospect despite being extremely well made it was essentially a soft remake of A New Hope to lure in older fans who didn't like the prequel trilogy.
Now we have the last instalment of this new trilogy directed by JJ Abrams and while it ends some of the character arcs quite nicely, it's also a very safe space adventure which for the most part lacks any emotional engagement with the audience.
The highlight of Rise of Skywalker is definitely the character interaction between Rey and Kylo Ren, they are the main stars of the film. Some things fans questioned about these characters are given an explanation which makes sense even though some details are still hidden. There's also lots of fan service to older characters- the introduction of Lando and Emperor Palpatine will surely excite fans. Despite this, most of the other characters from this new trilogy are put on the sideline and have almost no character development whatsoever. There was a moment when a character mentioned something about someone's past which sparked some curiosity in me, but then he quickly shrugs it off saying it didn't matter. This kind of writing is what has disappointed me about this trilogy- the originals and even the prequels had well defined characters but some of these new ones all feel the same and could help with some fleshing out.
The story is reminiscent of an Indiana Jones film, as the characters seek to find a hidden artefact which navigates them to a Sith base. It wastes no time in starting the adventure as the opening crawl announces Emperor Palpatine has been pulling the strings all along, hiding inside a secret Sith base. It's an extremely fast paced movie, perhaps overly so as there's a plethora of action set pieces which while well made can feel overwhelming.
Star Wars: Episode IX - Rise of Skywalker may be just as divisive as the film that preceded it, some seem to think it's shallow trash while others think its entertaining. With all three movies released, fans can look at the trilogy holistically and possibly re-evaluate their thoughts. I stand by my opinion on The Last Jedi but I can understand why some would think it's the best of the trilogy since it's the riskiest when it comes to writing and storytelling. The Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker are both similar tonally, being reminiscent of the swashbuckling space adventures that popularised the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although there's some decent characters like Rey and Kylo Ren, there were some missed opportunities for inventiveness which some would argue was in The Last Jedi but in my opinion is so tonally inconsistent with the other two movies it just ends up being a huge mess. That's what this new trilogy feels like to me, a series of movies that don't know what they want to be because no one set in stone the story from beginning to end unlike what George Lucas was able to achieve.
1 out of 9 found this helpful