SPOILER-FREE REVIEW: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
by Bryan Scheidler
Luke Skywalker: What’s in there?
Yoda: Only what you take with you.
I am surprised how a single quote can sum up a movie experience so well. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters this week and the early press reactions have been all over the place. The general consensus though is: if you didn’t like The Last Jedi you will like this and if you did like The Last Jedi then you won’t like it. To be honest it is much more nuanced than that.
For fans of Star Wars as a whole, the fans who loved the animated shows, the books and comics, and all the interconnected lore in this universe there is a lot here to love. While these details are often unimportant to the story being presented, they are littered about the entire film. The fan service presented here works in a way that Solo: A Star Wars Story just couldn’t pull off. JJ Abrams channels nostalgia for everything Star Wars has been up to this point and uses that to truly close the book on the story that began in A New Hope.
If however, you preferred Rian Johnson’s view of Star Wars and that it should ignore everything that came before in order to build something different, you will not enjoy this. So much of this film is about the past coming back to haunt this new generation of heroes. The characters, Rey and Kylo Ren specifically, must come to terms with who they are, who they want to be, and the choices that others have made for them. Like I said, if you wanted more of the story moving on to different things besides plot elements from the original trilogy, you will be disappointed.
For me personally, I came out of the theater really enjoying this film. The action scenes were for the most part really fun to watch. The humor wasn’t overdone or forced into situations, except for that stupid “They fly now!” joke that was in the trailers. The movie, of course, has problems, especially in the third act. However, because I don’t want to influence anyone’s impression of the film I am refraining from listing my specific scene complaints here which brings me back to the quote I started with. If you go into this film wanting to hate it, you will. If you go in ready for a Star Wars film that honors the previous movies, you will enjoy it.
Watching Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker felt like Book 1 of Star Wars had finally come to an end. Now, Book 2 can begin following the stories of Rey, Finn, and Poe as they are building something new.