REVIEW: Final ‘Star Wars’ falls, rather than rises

A person can say a lot about the “Star Wars” prequels. They certainly had their fair share of flaws. However, at the very least, it was a trilogy that had a clear blueprint for where it was supposed to go.

That, unfortunately, didn’t seem to be the case with this sequel trilogy.

“Rise of Skywalker” is the ninth film in the main “Star Wars” story, and 11th overall when including the spin-off features. Right from the opening crawl, viewers learn that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) survived the second Death Star’s destruction, has actually been pulling all the strings with the First Order and has (somehow) built like 90 new Star Destroyers that have planet killing cannons.

In response, a rather depleted resistance force explore their options to fight back. They determine the best course of action is to find out where Palpatine’s fleet is and launch an attack with help from across the galaxy. To find out the location, the new Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley), former storm trooper-turned resistance warrior Finn (John Boyega) and ace pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac) begin a search for a dark side Sith artifact.

“The Force Awakens” introduced new villains, including General Hux, Kylo Ren and Master Snoke, but after “Last Jedi,” the creative team just decide to go back to the old well and dig up Palpatine. His comeback feels so weak and unearned, like he was just thrown in there because they needed a villain, not because they had anything interesting to do with him.

The grand master plan he introduces feels so slapped together. It’s as if the filmmakers said ‘hey, instead of one big planet killing device, how about a bunch of smaller ones,’ and went with that.

His comeback raises a lot questions with the Force, too, not to mention inquiries into what he was doing the whole time. Why use Snoke at all? Why not reach out to Kylo in the first place? This, along with how he even survived, is not really clear.

It’s not the only random and nonsensical Force power that shows up, though. There are a few Force powers appear that don’t really make any sense and aren’t even consistent from one scene to another.

Courtesy Disney and LucasFilm.

“Rise of Skywalker” doesn’t do its characters on the hero side many favors. The film basically just send them off on a video game like quest. Get object A to get to level 2, get object B to get to level 3. That’s what’s in store for the trio of heroes.

This doesn’t instantly sink an adventure story, but it doesn’t help when these characters haven’t really spent much time together. Rey and Poe didn’t meet until the end of “Last Jedi,” Rey and Finn hadn’t gone on an adventure together since “Force Awakens,” and Finn and Poe didn’t even work together in the last movie.

This trilogy had these three characters, the team of good guys, yet didn’t give them much time together. Maybe the people in charge of the last movie should’ve thought that through a bit more.

But hey, “Last Jedi” did introduce the resistance fighter Rose, maybe she’d be a fun mix to the other three on the adventure. Oh wait, the “Rise of Skywalker” creative team kept her back at the base to do nothing.

What “Rise of Skywalker” is also severely lacking in is stakes and consequences. The movie has many fake outs, where a character may die, but then it turns out to not be the case.


Despite the jabs this review is throwing at the latest “Star Wars,” the picture isn’t a total loss. While the movie’s story and characters are thrown into quite a mess, there’s still some fun to be had.

The characters, for example, have always been likable and compelling, and it’s still somewhat true here. Rey is a Jedi who’s likely had the least mentoring, so she has moments of insecurity to overcome, Finn has finally come into his own as a resistance warrior and Poe still carries his risky, fly boy attitude. They’re at least a good group to follow.

The movie also makes good use of evolving Kylo Ren’s character, save for one moment in the third act. For the most part, though, the film had the character go in an interesting direction.

The film also features some entertaining action moments, especially with some great lightsaber duels.

“Rise of Skywalker” isn’t bad. It has the entertainment value one expects from a “Star Wars” film and the characters remain enjoyable to follow. However, it fall so short in where it takes its story and many of its characters that it ultimately becomes lackluster. 2.5 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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