Like many other fans of the series, I never had high expectations for the new trilogy. It just didn’t seem right; the story was over. Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) had been redeemed by his son Luke (Mark Hamill) and had finally fulfilled his destiny as “the Chosen One” by destroying the Sith. More importantly, the films weren’t even being created by George Lucas, the mastermind behind Star Wars himself. Too say that I thought the films were going to be “bad” is a massive understatement.
Despite my prior bias, I still saw all the new films in theaters. In my opinion, things started out strong with The Force Awakens (JJ Abrams, 2015), but quickly crashed and burned with The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017). I did not have good expectations for The Rise of Skywalker, but, was surprisingly proven wrong. The film turned out very exciting and was a great ending to the new series. As bad as The Last Jedi was, The Rise of Skywalker redeems it and saves the newest trilogy for fans everywhere.
Picking up right where the last episode left off, the film follows Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she learns the ways of the force. She is quickly faced with an overwhelming task, as she discovers Emperor Palpetine (Ian McDiarmid) is still alive and that she must be the one to face him and destroy the Sith forever. Things definitely get intense and there is no shortage of lightsaber battles, all cumulating in Star Wars fashion with an epic space showdown.
Overall, the film was awesome. It was jam packed with action and had several twists to it that no one was expecting. For starters, the revelation that Emperor Palpetine had been secretly ruling the First Order all along was a huge surprise. The trailers foreshadowed his return as a pivotal character in the series, but I don’t think anyone anticipated him maintaining the control he possessed in the original six films.
In addition to the Emperor’s return, the explanation behind Leah’s (Carrie Fisher) force abilities was another great element in this film. While only explained briefly in a single scene, the audience learns that Leah had been trained as a Jedi by Luke after the sixth film. Including this flashback helped explain a lot as there are several instances in the new trilogy where Leah uses the force, yet the audience never knows how she was trained. Furthermore, seeing that Leah had finally become a Jedi was one of the more satisfying moments in the new trilogy. Her strong, confrontational personality is emphasized throughout the original three Star Wars films yet she never gets her moment of glory in battle. Leah is just as much of a Skywalker as Luke is, seeing her become a Jedi left the audience at ease knowing she also fulfilled her destiny.
The biggest issue I had with the film is that despite reintroducing Palpetine being very cool, it essentially destroys the whole point of the first six movies. The original Star Wars films show the redemption of Anakin Skywalker and how he turns back from the dark side and fulfills his destiny by killing Palpetine and destroying the Sith. This was all great until Disney decided to reintroduce Palpetine and then have Rey finish him off completely. By this logic, Rey becomes “the Chosen One” and Anakin’s redemption story becomes insignificant in comparison. Once again, I loved Palpetine’s character in the film but when you think about it, him coming back has an astronomically negative effect on the first six films.
Despite my own critiques, Star Wars definitely ended on a good note with The Rise of Skywalker. Disney was able to cumulate one of the most popular franchises ever with a film that interconnected everything about the series. I would certainly recommend it to anyone; whether you’re a Star Wars fanboy or someone who has never seen any of the films, you will be sure to be entertained.