By: Hayden Alexander
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker was one of the most highly anticipated movies released last year. The pressure was on as millions of Star Wars fans flocked to the theaters. The question is, did the movie live up to the hype? Did it deliver a good ending for the series? For this reviewer, and MEGA Star Wars nerd, the answer was YES!
After reviewing The Star Wars Holiday Special, I had had enough of lackluster fuzzy effects. Thankfully, that was not an issue with The Rise of Skywalker. Every scene was beautiful in its own way. The colors of the new worlds, the vibrant blues of Kijimi, lush greens of Ajan Kloss, warm hues of Passama, the dreariness of Keif Bir, and the shocking blues of Exogol. The design of the aliens both practical and digital were off the charts. Everything felt so real, and you couldn’t tell what was real vs.what was just a green screen effect. It is clear that a lot of time, precision, and care went into this movie.
The new worlds in The Rise of Skywalker, top to bottom: Keif Bir, Ajan Kloss, Passama, Kijimi, and Exogol.
All of our beloved characters got their moment in the spotlight. Kylo Ren was his usual moody self until he wasn’t. Lando swaggered into the movie, while Chewbacca chewed the scenery. C-3PO got to be a hero, and then his best friend R2 got to be his C-3PO’s hero (a better love story than twilight). Our princess was spectacular in her final scenes, and Luke was his wise old self. The best characters to come out of The Rise of Skywalker were our new main trio Poe Dameron, Finn, and Rey.
These three characters play off of each other flawlessly. As I was watching, the actors were able to make me believe that a year had passed. It shows that they all love each other, both on and off-screen. Every scene was made instantly better by their relationship with each other. They created humor that wasn’t over the top, and fit with our usual Star Wars archetypal sassy hero. All in all, I feel like we just got this great relationship, and now I want more.
Finn, Rey, and Poe searching for a way to save the galaxy.
Our new characters Zorri Bliss and Babu Frik are fun additions to the story. They aren’t weird like DJ from The Last Jedi and don’t annoy me like Rose, who to my delight is not one of the main characters in this movie. We even got a cute new droid named DIO who was perfectly adorable.
New additions to the Star Wars galaxy: Zorii Bliss, DIO, and Babu Frik.
Every great Star Wars movie must have a space battle, blaster fight, and a lightsaber duel or two. I am happy to report that The Rise of Skywalker checked off all the boxes. The battle over Exogol had so much action going on you couldn’t help but feel giddy. Every blaster fight was unique in its own way even though, like their predecessors, First Order troopers couldn’t hit anything. The lightsaber duels were well choreographed and well-executed. All of the scenes were easy to follow, and hard not to love.
John Williams outdid himself on his last outing with some truly exceptional music. Like always, the music added to the effectiveness of each scene. I personally loved it when Williams would weave in pieces from the original movies with the new score perfectly. The moment when Rey has discovered the throne room in the wreckage of the second Death Star, and the Emperor”s theme slowly creeps in gave me chills. Another example of Williams’s nostalgia-inducing genius was the return of Leia’s theme as we said goodbye to our princess.
Speaking of the Princess from a galaxy far far away, Leia’s departure was handled very well. No, Meryl Streep did not stand in, and JJ Abrahms refused to use CGI. Leia’s peaceful death served a purpose to the overall story by saving her son from the dark side, and it made sense. Let’s just say I cried just as much, if not more than Chewbacca.
Princess General Leia Organa embracing Rey in one of the last scenes Carrie Fisher filmed.
The force worked in mysterious ways in this film. With healing and force ghosts, The Rise of Skywalker did not skimp on the Star Wars lore. I did not mind at all that they delved a little bit into the Star Wars Expanded Universe for this movie. It just shows that they are willing to explore those storylines to create new ones, which is promising for the future of Star Wars. Disney was sneaky with the Mandalorian episode showing Baby Yoda using the force to heal three days before the release of The Rise of Skywalker. It was a nice payoff for fans of the show who weren’t as dumbfounded when Rey force heals Kylo Ren and vise versa.
The second Rey uttered the words “be with me” as she stared into the lighting streaked sky I was filled with wonder. The whole scene was beautifully constructed, as we faded from the blue lighting hued Exogol to the vastness of space. The subtle entrance of Rey’s theme signaling the voices of the previous Jedi caused my jaw to drop to the floor. Amidst this powerful scene the voices of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui Gon Jinn, Ahsoka Tano, Yoda, Mace Windu, Kanan Jarrus, Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli, Adi Gallia, Luke Skywalker, and Anikan Skywalker give her the strength to fight saying “All of the Jedi live in you now”.
Rey’s character arc in this story is very powerful. She starts out a girl afraid of becoming what she fears most, much like Luke in Empire Strikes Back. Through her faith in herself, the Jedi, and the people she loves, she is able to finally come to terms with who she is. Even though her being a Palpatine was one fo the more obvious namesake possibilities, I still liked how she, in the end, did not let that decide her fate. When all is said and done, Rey chooses her family and turns away from her dark lineage. It’s a good message that it doesn’t matter where you come from, only what you choose to become.
Speaking of Dark lineage, Lord Sidious makes a villainous come back to remind us that he is the senate. His grotesque form will no doubt be the center of all my nightmares for a while. I loved the idea that Sidious has been running the show from the beginning, not just since the empire fell, but since he was elected to the senate way back in the days of the old republic. He was a worthy adversary and the only one who could have given this saga the ending it deserved. My only question, how did Lord Sidious find someone to procreate with?
The Rise of Skywalker finally gives us some much-needed answers about Rey’s parents through a series of flashbacks, and that it. Just a couple of flashbacks and we are supposed to be completely satisfied. Well, I am not. This is Star Wars you can’t just introduce two new somewhat important characters without giving us a backstory or even names. I need some backstory on these two characters. I know there will probably be a book about it or something, but not everybody reads the books, so they will miss out on this information.
Just like Avengers: Endgame, this movie did not hold back on the fan service, and much like Endgame, I loved it. I know some people don’t like studios pandering to the nerds, but those nerds are the ones who watch these movies, so pander away! Every time one of these moments happened I cheered (which was kinda awkward since I was the only one). From the moment Luke lifted the X-wing from the sea, to when Chewbacca FINALLY got his medal I was smiling ear to ear. My only problem with this fan service is that it wasn’t enough. If you are going to do all of this crazy stuff for the finale, then go all out.
The Millennium Falcon leads an army of ships to aide the rebels.
That brings me to my main issue with the movie; it wasn’t long enough. Don’t get me wrong the 2 hours and 20 minutes we got were great, but I needed more. With the fast pacing of the movie you had to really be paying attention in order to catch everything (which I was), but if it had been a little longer they could have paced it in an easier to process way. With a longer run time, they could have made the finale even grander since it was supposedly the saga finally.
They also left too many storylines open in this movie. For instance, in the book Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka Poe was a republic pilot, but now all of a sudden he is a spice runner. After watching the movie, it is clear that Finn has the force, but now we may never get to see the outcome of his abilities. The last shot of the film could easily be a set up for another movie,
I mean Rey is holding a GOLD lightsaber! Does this mean she is a grey Jedi? Apparently, we will never know because this is supposedly the end of the saga. (lies)
The conclusion of this movie saw ships sinking, new ships being built, and one ship sailing only to crash seconds later. I am of course referring to the Star Wars fandom ship (when you want to characters to be in a relationship) Reylo. At first, I was not happy about Reylo, mainly because I was team Finnrey or bust. Plus I had made a bet with my fellow newswriter Natale Eaton to see whose ship would sail; mine did not. As time went on, however, and I quit grieving over my lost $20 I found that I actually didn’t hate the love story. Even if the latest news claims that JJ Abrahms did not want them to fall for each other, it still fits the narrative. To be honest I never liked Kylo Ren, because I didn’t think he was an intimidating villain. However the second he became Ben again I instantly loved his character, because he was finally himself. So I reluctantly tie my sinking Finnrey life raft to the Reylo ship.
There was not a moment during this movie that I wasn’t smiling, laughing, or crying tears of pure joy. It was everything I could have wanted, well almost everything, This movie was a successful ending to the saga, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds in store. Even though Disney has stated that the movies are going on a hiatus until 2022, we still have the Mandalorian. The rumored Obi-Wan show, the upcoming Cassian Andor show, and Clone Wars season 7. Three years until the next Star Wars…what am I supposed to do for Christmas the next two years!?