Of all the releases of 2019, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was the one I was most excited to see. Star Wars is a major part of my life and I have made lasting friendships because of it. I was eager and anxious to see how J.J. Abrams would end not only the sequel trilogy but also the 42-year long Skywalker saga. As the familiar logo appeared and the main theme played, my excitement reached its peak and plummeted when the opening crawl started. Just as The Force Awakens (also directed by Abrams) is a rehash of A New Hope, The Rise of Skywalker is a rehash of Return of the Jedi, albeit weak and confused.
Perhaps Abrams was too preoccupied with pandering to fans who hated The Last Jedi, a film that was bold enough to challenge our notions of what a Star Wars film could be. The Rise of Skywalker is exhausting to watch: exposition is thrown around for most of the runtime, alternating with action scenes that get repetitive and boring. It’s as if they forgot they actually have to develop its plot and characters. Instead of writing a screenplay, it feels like Abrams and Chris Terrio scoured parts of the internet for theories and ran with it. They gave us a predictable plot with too many MacGuffin quests that it felt like I was watching a videogame. The editing is slapdash and barely gives us a cohesive narrative.
The Force Awakens introduced us to characters we have come to love and The Last Jedi challenges them, letting them grow into characters that feel real and believable. The Rise of Skywalker throws all of that away. While the cast gives us wonderful performances, their characters feel flat; there is barely any character development, and their journeys reset. Finn (John Boyega) is underwritten, and while he has his moments, it feels like he’s only there to play a part in Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) arc. Rose Tico, a character that undeservedly received much of the backlash from angry fans, is barely in the film. Perhaps this is to satisfy those who hated The Last Jedi despite Abrams saying that casting Kelly Marie Tran “was the greatest thing” Rian Johnson did for the Star Wars universe. The writers’ attempt at giving General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) a proper send-off is piss poor, unfortunately being used just to further Kylo Ren’s (Adam Driver) arc. Many characters are introduced, and Disney made sure that their marketing got fans excited about them; but they are barely utilized, their potential wasted.
The Rise of Skywalker is empty and immensely disappointing. It doesn’t care about its characters and giving them a proper ending. It’s more concerned with gaining back the angry fans it has lost; trying to please everyone and no one. It’s cowardly and insulting filmmaking.