The final installment of the new Star Wars trilogy is out in theaters, so it’s time for some thoughts on the film.

Title: Star Wars – Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker

Cast & Crew

Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa (archive footage)
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Daisy Ridley as Rey
John Boyega as Finn
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Naomi Ackie as Jannah
Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux
Richard E. Grant as General Pryde
Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata
Keri Russell as Zorii Bliss
Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca
Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico
Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian
Greg Grunberg as Snap Wexley
Shirley Henderson as Babu Frik
Billie Lourd as Lieutenant Connix
Dominic Monaghan as Beaumont
Hassan Taj as R2-D2 Performed By
Lee Towersey as R2-D2 Performed By
Brian Herring as BB-8
Dave Chapman as BB-8
Robin Guiver as D-O Performed By
Lynn Robertson Bruce as D-O Performed By / Sith Alchemist
J.J. Abrams as D-O (voice)

Special Cameo Appearances by


Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker (voice)
Olivia d’Abo as Luminara Unduli (voice)
Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano (voice)
Jennifer Hale as Aayla Secura (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu (voice)
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi (voice)
Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi (voice) (archive sound)
Frank Oz as Yoda (voice)
Angelique Perrin as Adi Gallia (voice)
Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kannan Jarus (voice)
Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn (voice)
Denis Lawson as Wedge Antilles
Harrison Ford as Han Solo (uncredited)

The Premise/Opening Crawl

The dead speak! The galaxy has
heard a mysterious broadcast, a
threat of REVENGE in the sinister
voice of the late EMPEROR
PALPATINE.

GENERAL LEIA ORGANA
dispatches secret agents to
gather intelligence, while REY,
the last hope of the Jedi, trains
for battle against the diabolical
FIRST ORDER.

Meanwhile, Supreme Leader
KYLO REN rages in search of the
phantom Emperor, determined to
destroy any threat to his power…

High Point

Rise of Skywalker does a tremendous job of handling the death of Carrie Fisher and working it into the film, while also accounting for her originally intended plot arc – taking up Rey’s training after Luke’s death in The Last Jedi.

Also, not to knock the lack of mobility that Peter Mayhew had in The Force Awakens, but by consistently having Chewbacca played by one actor as opposed to having to manage the performances of both actors allows Chewbacca’s mourning of Leia’s death to be more expressive than how much he was able to mourn in The Force Awakens.

Rey, Finn, and Poe have tremendous chemistry together – we knew that with Finn and Poe and Rey and Finn in the first movie, but they had barely any time together in The Last Jedi, and Poe and Rey had never actually met prior to this film, so there was a definite question about those actors’ chemistry there.

Yes, bringing Billy Dee Williams back as Lando is “fanservice” – but especially in his case, that’s not a bad thing. He’s a talented actor who generally is underrated (as shown by his career), and I’m really glad to see him back on screen again – and the (spoiler-blocked) cameos actually make for fanservice that is also much appreciated, especially since half of them are characters who are women and people of color who are characters that are much loved among the fan base.

Finally, I will admit that I am probably one of the few people who liked the plot of the Dark Empire Trilogy – the art of the comics was hindered by Cam Kennedy’s vision issues hindering his coloring – so I liked this film putting its own spin on the plot of those comics. I realize that in some people’s eyes that means I have no taste and can be ignored entirely when it comes to any form of artistic criticism, but it worked for me.

Low Point

It is incredibly clear just how little material from Carrie Fisher they had to work with – a few small lines here and there that are fairly shallow on paper, along with a couple of hugs – with the rest of her presence in the film being in the form of Fake Shemps. I do feel that part of Rey’s plot arc in the film was re-done to give one of the lines they got from Carrie a dramatic gravitas that it would have lacked otherwise.

Additionally, Rose Tico’s contributions to the film are unfortunately lacking – Lando in Return of the Jedi had a larger contribution there than Rose does here. I feel like Rose would have made a good fit with the team dynamic of Rey, Finn, and Poe, and I wouldn’t have minded having her there.

Lupita Nyong’o and Dominic Monaghan are similarly barely present here – and considering both actors are very talented, and considering that Nyong’o had helped set Rey’s path in motion in the Force Awakens, I wish at least she’d gotten more to do here.  Similarly, I don’t think Monaghan is part of the big final battle at all.

Scores

Originality: The film borrows a bunch, narratively, from The Dark Empire Trilogy, but it puts its own unique spins on it that I appreciate. 3/6

Effects: Special Effects are something that the Star Wars series has always generally been good at – and this film is no exception. 6/6

Acting: The cast generally has tremendous chemistry. McDiarmid and Williams feel like they’ve back into their old roles of Palpatine and Calrissian effortlessly, and the new characters, particularly Richard E. Grant as General Pryde, fit very well with the Flash Gordon-camp-but-actually-taking-themselves-somewhat-seriously tone of Star Wars. 4/6

Story: The actual narrative depth of the story is not quite its strong suite, unfortunately, but it serves very well as a solid thematic conclusion to the Skywalker Saga – which is really what this film needed to be. 3/6

Emotional Response: As mentioned under the “Story” category, the film needed to provide a sense of catharsis for the Skywalker saga, while (since this Expanded Universe is still going to be a thing), providing room for other writers to tell their own stories outside of that framework. The film succeeded at those emotional beats – along with hitting some of the equally important emotional notes related to sending off Princess Leia and wrapping up Kylo Ren’s arc. 4/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: I enjoyed this film immensely in the theater, and walked out of the theater having had a good time, but not necessarily feeling that this was going to be a movie that I’m going to want to see over and over again in the theater. 4/6

In total, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker gets 30 out of 42.