Movie Review: Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

Plot Summary:

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker closes out the Skywalker saga now 9 films in the making.  With the Resistance nearly gone, the ruthless First Order finding fresh reinforcement from an old evil, and two force-wielding youngsters trying to turn each other to the others' side of the Force, this is the chapter to end all chapters.

Does It Makes My List?

I am very much on the fence about this one. I honestly can't say that I recommend it as a terrific film, but I'll just lay out my reasons to watch or to pass and you can decide. I didn't leave the theater having loved it, at least.

Reasons to Watch: 

  1. Strong Feminine Protagonist: By this I mean we have a strong female character who is actually a female character, not an ultra macho, doesn't need anyone (especially a man) masculine character with a female face (looking at you Captain Marvel).  In Rey, we have a compelling character who, in spite of her capabilities and power, is affectionate, kind, forgiving and willing to reach out for help. She exemplifies traditionally feminine characteristics which, unsurprisingly, actually strengthen her character and on-screen relationships. She has meaningful relationships with human friends, mentors, droids, and aliens whom she relies on but who also rely on her. She is clever and courageous, in spite of her fears; on top of that, she doesn't hide that fear behind pride or arrogant swagger, which makes her a more relatable, realistic and likable character.
  2. Several Fun Scenes & Couple of Fun Twists: There are some really fun elements like a chase sequence in the desert with flying stormtroopers, 5-on-1 mortal combat, force ghosts, etc.  These types of scenes help keep the movie exciting, though it still feels like a long movie. For the purposes of not ruining anything, I'll just leave it at that.
  3. Some Good Messages: There is a clear understanding throughout this film that no one person alone is enough to overthrow evil and restore freedom to the galaxy. By the same token, those who make terrible choices usually need help from others to turn their lives around.  In a world of increased interpersonal isolation and unrealistic personal expectations, this idea that we are not alone when we try to do what is right is a message worth sharing. 

Reasons to Pass:

  1. Feels Very Disjointed: Every so often, there would be a scene where the dialogue, chemistry, and story worked terrifically well (as it did in The Force Awakens), but then the next several scenes would go completely differently. I wonder if this may have something to do with Colin Trevorrow having been in the director's chair originally and J.J. Abrams coming in later once pre-production was already underway.
  2. Often Predictable: While there were certainly a few twists, there were also several times in the film where I knew ahead of time what the next line would be or the next action a character would take. Perhaps this is because they have dipped into the same storytelling themes so many times, but some of this movie felt redundant.
  3. Too Many Mandatory Corporate Checkboxes: My principal interest in going to a movie is to have an experience with great characters in a meaningful story told by passionate professionals. If the main character is of a particular minority and they do a good job, that's great; if they are not a minority and they do a good job, that's great too. Whoever is going to help tell the best story possible is what I feel is important. With that being said, I feel like the actors they chose did a great job; nevertheless, it felt like the filmmakers had a good story but then Disney handed them a series of requirements & social agendas that they had to shoehorn into the film, such as:
  • Need More Minorities = Make sure the 'franchise's first female of color' Rose keeps popping up randomly even though she is never given enough time to make any sort of meaningful contribution or develop as a character. Her acting is solid - she is just never given much to do, which leads me to believe she wasn't integral to the plot and just a mandatory checkbox instead. 
  • Need to Sell More Toys = Add another random droid whose name I can't even remember but is cute enough the kids will want one.
  • Need a New Type of Lightsaber = "Let's see, we did a double-sided one with Darth Maul, crazy T-shaped lightsaber guard with Kylo Ren... Oh, I know! Let's make this one fold out!"
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is on Disney+.
As always, I recommend checking out the Parents Guide just so that you are aware of any potentially objectionable material before deciding whether to watch it.