Forty-two years after the image of a Star Destroyer flying overhead blew my nine-year-old mind, the Star Wars saga is finally coming to an end. Again. But not really. But while Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker may not feel like the end of a space fantasy saga four decades in the making, and it’s surely not the last time we’ll visit that galaxy far, far away, it is an epic and exceptionally exciting sci-fi space opera.
Set well after…
the events of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker — or, how it’s officially known, Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker — finds the Resistance in disarray but rebuilding. But when a voice from the past heralds the return of a familiar face, both they and The First Order set out to stop them, and each other, putting the entire galaxy in jeopardy.
As you can imagine — unless you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie before — Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker has all the exciting sci-fi action we expect from these movies. There are exciting space battles, inventive lightsaber fights, cool creatures, funny droids, and on and on. All of which is delivered courtesy of a smart, situationally funny, and clever script that’s both in the vein of, and on par with, The Force Awakens.
Though unlike that movie, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker does not copy any of the early movies the way The Force Awakens took numerous plot points from A New Hope. With the exception of the ending — which couldn’t have played out in any other way — this story doesn’t rehash any other story beats from the previous movies, even when casting new light on some of those earlier moments.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker…
also introduces some interesting new characters, ones we’d like to see more of in some form or another. Chief among these are Jannah (The Corrupted‘s Naomi Ackie), a rebel in her own right, and Zorri Bliss (Keri Russell from The Americans), a criminal whose chemistry with Poe Dameron (Annihilation‘s Oscar Isaac) is so electric that Disney needs to immediately greenlight an Oceans 11-esque heist movie prequel in the vein of Timothy Zahn’s crime novel Star Wars: Scoundrels.
Admittedly, those new characters could’ve been fleshed out more. Especially Jannah. Though how they would’ve found the time is beyond me. While Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker isn’t the longest of the Star Wars movies — at 142 minutes long, The Last Jedi beats it by 10 minutes — it is easily the densest Star Wars movie. So much happens that it feels like they’ve crammed a movie and a half into a single film. Doubly so when you compare it The Last Jedi, which seems relatively inconsequential compared to this.
Which is not to say Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker feels bloated. Quite the opposite. It moves along at a swift pace, and while it’s not as effortless as A New Hope or The Force Awakens, it is a lot to take in.
It’s also a lot to deal with at times.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is, unequivocally, the most emotionally draining of the movies. Granted, some of that is because we lost Carrie Fisher three years ago, but General Leia Organa still has a significant role (physically and emotionally). But things also happen to the relatively newer characters as well that might make you think you got something in your eye, give me a moment.
In fact, the only potential bummer about Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is that it isn’t the end of the nine-film saga some people were hoping this would be (including writer / director J.J. Abrams). In that context, it’s not as satisfying an ending as Avengers: Endgame. Or even Return Of The Jedi. But that’s due more to how Jedi just wrapped things up so tightly, and with no hints that there was more to the story (and that includes after they added The Phantom Menace, Attack Of The Clones, and Revenge Of The Sith on to the beginning). As a result, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise Of Skywalker feel more like an aftermath than a continuation.
But having said that, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker does a fantastic job of wrapping up this sequel trilogy. Not only does it answer most of the nagging questions posed in The Force Awakens — yes, including that — but it brings this three-movie sequence to a satisfying end. And while it does have a lot of nice nods to things that happen in the first six movies, especially the original trilogy, they still make this feel like the end of this trilogy, not the end of this entire series.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is not the end of this series its creators have hoped it would be, but it was never going to be. Instead, it’s a fitting, exciting, and emotionally satisfying end to this latest trilogy, one that shows what happened to Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, C-3PO, R2-D2, and the rest of the galaxy after the rebels finally defeated the Empire and The Emperor. Which, to be honest, is all this lifelong nine-year-old Star Wars fan has wanted from these new movies anyway.