The Rise of Skywalker Brings Unfortunate End to an Iconic Franchise

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The Rise of Skywalker Brings Unfortunate End to an Iconic Franchise

Mia Zak, Multimedia Editor

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Star Wars’ sequel trilogy came to an unfortunate close on December 20 when The Rise of Skywalker released in theaters across the country. After the divisive release of the previous installment, The Last Jedi, it was very clear that JJ Abrams wished to correct the perceived failings of his predecessor. Unfortunately, this aim only led to a critical mishandling of important characters, an abrupt and unexplained plot, and a boatload of contradictions to previous material. What I had expected to be a fulfilling and exciting end to the story sadly came across as pandering to a loud minority that sacrificed any inkling of a comprehensible or moving plot in exchange for unnecessary detouring and a lukewarm attempt at a redemption arc. 

I’ll start with the positives. The movie was appropriately beautiful for one of its background and budget. With a budget of $275 million, it is the seventh most expensive movie in existence, and has suitably pleasing visuals to match. While there were a few decisions which didn’t match the tone of the film, and one which nearly had me burst out laughing, the visual effects team did a decently good job maintaining the Star Wars aesthetic with a plethora of diverse environments. I will also go out of my way to praise the actors as well; even though I disagree with the way their characters were handled, I could tell they were doing the most with what they were given. I particularly enjoyed the performance of Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. Combining both of these ideas, the fight scenes were choreographed well enough to please my untrained eye. 

From here, I’ll move on to what I didn’t like. Unfortunately, this consists of the majority of the plot and writing in general. As previously mentioned, Rise of Skywalker works to either roll back or completely ignore any and all advancements made during The Last Jedi. Having a large portion of a film apologizing or covering for the debatable failings of a previous one is nearly impossible to pull off without having it come off as blatant backpedalling or erasure of development. Needless to say, Rise of Skywalker does not meet this hurdle gracefully. Whether this manifests in changing major components of a character, ridding characters of a chance to show any importance to the plot besides chasing the main character, or relegating new and interesting characters to two short lines of dialogue, Rise of Skywalker butchers nearly every character’s personality and already loose sense of backstory in favor of one of the most milquetoast redemption and romance attempts I have seen on screen.

Aside from the characters, the plot in general was clumsy. It consisted of what boiled down to an overly long and tedious fetch quest peppered with mildly compelling mind conversations between Kylo and Rey. Pair this with a completely unexplained villain and lineage reveal and a few moments of shoehorned romance and you get Rise of Skywalker. This film expects the viewer to both accept all new information as it comes and disregard all old information it contradicts without anything resembling a feasible reason for these changes or events to occur, and this took me out of my suspension of disbelief multiple times during my viewing experience. Having this film as the conclusion of the trilogy makes it seem to me like the overarching plot was poorly planned – or even not planned at all – given that no part of it was built up between the other two aside from Rey and Kylo’s dynamic. This reflects poorly on the trilogy as a whole, and is entirely disappointing.

To sum up my feelings, while Rise of Skywalker had a generally pretty exterior and contained performances I can respect, its mundane, barebones plot, disregard toward its accompanying movies, and blatant disrespect of many of its characters forces me to leave this movie with an outstandingly bad taste in my mouth. If you like Star Wars as a franchise but have less interest in dissecting a plot than simply seeing a movie, Rise of Skywalker is permissible, but I would not advise seeing it in theaters under any other circumstances.