Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Revisiting Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

And so we come to the most recent film in my Star Wars rewatch: The Rise of Skywalker.  Obviously this only came out a year ago, so my thoughts likely wont change too much from then, but I was interested to see how it works in context with the other films.  In December I found this to be a very disappointing conclusion to the saga.  Do I still think so?  Lets find out!…. but yes, yes I do.


  • There was a while there where the movie felt like our team of heroes off on a series of adventures, which is nice. For example, I liked the idea of the sinking pits and what have you. The giant snake was cool
  • Babu Frick. He’s hilarious. He feels like a creature that would have shown up in Return of the Jedi. If he would have shown up earlier, or been in a better movie, I believe he would be a more beloved character. Star of the show.
  • I really liked Han Solo’s moment with Kylo. When I first saw it I was skeptical of this, but upon reflection its a nice moment. Kylo is on the cusp of turning and is using his father to debate with himself. It felt genuine to me and I like it a lot.
  • I liked the ending where Rey hears all of the Jedi voices urging her on. That really felt like a part which brought all of the trilogies together.


Here we go…

  • Lets start with the big one: the return of the Emperor. I understand the need to boost the stakes in the final film by bringing back the overarching bad guy. I get it. However, they didn’t even bother trying to explain how this was possible; they just threw out this nebulous idea about him being behind everything. But the real issue is that the Emperor’s downfall already came through one of cinema’s most popular character arcs: that of Darth Vader. By bringing him back now, they are really undercutting this idea.
  • And now to the next big reveal this movie gave us: Rey is the Emperor’s granddaughter. What?? What a stupid idea. Its also a weak retcon, since Last Jedi just established that she isn’t necessarily a part of any famous bloodline, and the series seemed to be moving towards this idea that the Force is for everyone. JJ came along and said “well hey, I teased her not knowing who her parents are, and fans want her to be somebody! Better fix that!” Stupid.
  • I have to mention the opening of the film, where Kylo Ren rushes around to find Exegol, following by Finn and Poe “hyperspace skipping”. This was poorly edited and poorly paced. It was so frantic, almost as if the filmmakers thought “we’ve gotta start off exciting and grab everyone right away!” But it turned me off, as it felt choppy, messy and disorganized. Not a good way to start at all.
  • Another big problem is the sidelining of Rose.  It feels like fans complained about her character from Last Jedi, so the studio decided to appease their whining and not include her in any of the action.  This is gross.  They did a great job developing her character in the last film, and especially her friendship with Finn.  Then they just threw it to the side.  Whats worse is they actually replaced her with another character named Janna, who is a character that adds nothing to Finn’s story or the movie overall.  Every time I see her on screen I think “Why isn’t Rose doing this?”
  • Speaking of pointless new characters, lets also bring up that new droid Deo. Its cute, sure, but we already have 3 droids. This was just there to look like Pixar. Also, Keri Russell’s character who inexplicably never took off her helmet. Her relationship with Poe felt forced and I didn’t buy the dialogue between them. Oh by the way, why did they make Poe being a spice runner such a big deal? Its not.
  • Also, what was with the focus on treasure hunting items? This is Star Wars, not Indiana Jones. The Sith way-finders? A secret knife that has the same shape as a crashed Death Star which shows where the next something or other is?? Star Wars has never really focused on physical objects, aside from maybe light-sabers. The closet to this macguffin idea was Artoo having the Death Star plans, but at least then the macguffin is still a character in the film.
  • We’ve got to talk about Leia. I know they were in a tough spot here and there was only so much that could be done. But al of her scenes still felt awkward, especially her death scene. Again, tough spot.
  • The dialogue didn’t feel like Star Wars. The writing felt very platitudinous, and while Star Wars has always been a story about timeless values etc, its never been a spelled out as here. “There are more of us”, “good people will fight if we lead them”, etc. I dunno, it just felt off to me. Am I off base here?
  • After watching Jurassic World, I was worried about Colin Treverrow being in charge of Episode 9 and turning it into complete fan pandering. I was relieved when JJ Abrams took over… but then he made it more pandering then I could have expected! The fan service here was off the rails. The worst, the absolutely worst, example of this is Chewie getting a medal at the end. This medal that came out of no where in the film, and for know reason other than to wink at the audience. I almost threw up.
  • Another huge problem was the two big psych out “deaths” of two beloved characters.  First, they make us believe that Chewie was killed during a battle between Kylo and Rey.  But they didn’t have the guts to go along with it.  Reversal!  Then they do the SAME THING with Threepio.  They wipe his memory and make a big dramatic moment out of it.  But nope! Artoo has his memory backed up!  So, so toothless.
  • Lets talk about the problem of exaggerated powers. In an effort to make this movie “bigger and better!” we get some ridiculous Jedi and Sith powers. The most egregious of which is when the Emperor shoots so much lightning out of his hands that it stops two entire fleets of ships!!! We also have the concept of the Force connection actually allowing teleportation of objects, a fleet of Star Destroyers all with the same power a the Death Star, etc etc. When you get to a point where the powers get too outlandish, its far too easy for the audience to check out. Super hero movies often run into this problem as well. There needs to be some confines and restriction within the logic of the world.

Okay, is that it?  For now.  Wow, apparently I had a lot to say.

Current Re-ranking List

So now the question comes: what is the worst Star Wars film?  This always seemed to be a debate between the prequels, but he now have a new contender.  So which is worse: Attack of the Clones or Rise of Skywalker?  AotC of course has the poor acting, bad love story, and CGI issues.  But at least it was secure in what it was.  Rise of the Skywalker on the other had feels like a response to complaining fans who didn’t like The last Jedi for silly, nitpicky reasons.  This feels so much like it was composited by a committee.  And not just any committee; one that was frightened (for some reason) or angry nerds. 
They made the movie they thought we wanted to see instead of having the convictions of following through with their excellent first two films.  And because of this, I have to put it at the bottom.

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Return of the Jedi
  3. The Last Jedi
  4. The Force Awakens
  5. Revenge of the Sith
  6. The Phantom Menace
  7. Attack of the Clones
  8. The Rise of Skywalker

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