The final chapter in the ‘Skywalker Saga’, ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’, concludes over four decades of character arcs and brings an entire era for the franchise to an end. Imagine having to write a script for that.
Just looking at ‘Avengers: Endgame’, we can see that is is possible to tie up years of stories and provide a satisfying, meaningful conclusion to an enormous saga. It also gave us an insight into what fan reactions would be. Inevitably, no-one was entirely happy with ‘Endgame’. It is impossible to give every fan the ending that they wanted. I think ‘Endgame’ is a testament to writers that have so much pressure put on them because it is their job to conclude not just a story but an era.
‘The Rise of Skywalker’ shares many similarities with ‘Endgame’ in those regards. J. J. Abrams has done an amazing job of bringing the hot mess of Star Wars in the Prequels Era to a new generation of fans. I firmly believe that this film is a fantastic piece of cinema, but it doesn’t serve its purpose as the hard-hitting conclusion to the ‘Skywalker Saga’.
Why It Doesn’t Work as a Star Wars Film
The OG team, Han, Leia and Luke, are just not the heroes which inspired us in Episodes IV to VI. They’re just kind of standing around, providing vague plot motivation while the new, young characters make their own stories.
The ‘Sequel Trilogy’ is not true to the original Star Wars and a lot of fans have slammed the new films for that reason. I agree that the original dream team seem completely useless in the new films and the franchise would have done better if it’d just not included them, but Star Wars has to have fanservice in order to succeed.
‘The Rise of Skywalker’ has a hell of a lot of fanservice and the characters that hardcore fans have grown to love simply feel empty in this film. To me, though, that doesn’t matter so much.
Why It Does Work as a Piece of Cinema
This film was such a joy to watch. The goal of every filmmaker is to entertain and this film does that very well indeed. Okay, it has shaky and incomplete plotlines and one-dimensional characters, but as a piece of cinema it absolutely works. The ‘Original Trilogy’ blew people away and was a masterclass in groundbreaking cinema. Going to see Star Wars was an event. Leaving the cinema, Star Wars has always left a sense of wonder and amazement in its viewers and ‘Episode IX’ is no exception.
The cinematography, digital art and set design made the entire thing such a marvel to the eye. It’s impossible to compare seeing the planets and spaceships in Star Wars to any other visual experience.
Along with the amazing visuals was incredible sound design. Star Wars is famous for its sound design and I think this film demonstrates that better than any of its predecessors. This film was made for the big screen and the big speakers and it is an awesome experience.
Not only is it a great piece of filmmaking, but the performances were (mostly) great! Daisy Ridley is such an amazing physical performer. I don’t see her being a great character actor, but nobody could make Rey more exciting to watch. The lightsaber battles, the thing with the Force, even climbing the wreck of the Death Star, it all felt real and engaged without fail.
Bringing back Palpatine, making him the best version so far, was an absolute win! Tying up three trilogies of history by reviving an old villain and making him more threatening than before was a very good move.
Yes there were some obvious flaws with the story. In my opinion, Rey should have stayed dead. Her death was meaningful and would have rendered her as the heroine that gave her life to save the galaxy. Instead, the guy that’s been one of the bad guys throughout the trilogy switches sides at the last minute and gives his life to revive her. I appreciate the change in character, as Kylo Ren has always been conflicted, but this did not feel right.
You don’t need to have a flawless plot to make a great film, though. ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ was an amazing piece of cinema and I want to see it again.