The end of a trilogy and the end of the Skywalker Saga. Is it wrong for me to say the best thing to come from this new trilogy is a LEGO game that will contain all nine films for what sounds to be one of the greatest LEGO – and possibly Star Wars – games of all time? I know that sounds like there’s nothing redeemable about the trilogy or this film, but that’s where you’d be wrong. I don’t hate The Rise of Skywalker, just as I don’t hate the Sequel Trilogy, but there has been a lot of missteps within the execution of all three films within it.
The Rise of Skywalker follows the trend of being good but not great. Sure, there’s plenty of great sequences and a load of character interactions that work, but it still cannot escape from the fact that it never seemed to have a coherent plan. The one theme – the most central theme, I would say – has been done better within the Original Trilogy. That being the actions of your family don’t define your character, only what you choose to be. But Rise of Skywalker still manages to make it work despite the lack of that coherent plan.
From the off it is clear the film tries to do too much. It throws itself at giving a reason for it to exist with a new big bad – that being the Emperor. Dodgy execution aside, it works for the film. This is The Skywalker Saga, and every story needs an antagonist. Which big bad has been present in both other trilogies pulling the strings of every major event of the galaxy? Palpatine. Which big bad has been actively working to destroy the Skywalker line? Palpatine. So despite what might have previously been set up, he is here again to close the saga out with a storyline that works.
However, while that works, and I have no real issue or problem with the rest of the film, there’s a big problem that needs to be said. The storyline with Palpatine works, but attached to it is something for the rest of the Resistance to do. Dealing with Palpatine is a Force-user thing, but as seen from the trailers it forces in a huge secret fleet to be dealt with as well, and it is here things… fall. Bluntly put, it has no real reason to be here. The only thing it serves is as an action piece, and it fails at doing that. There’s no true narrative line with the sequence, being there to offer a mirror of Return of the Jedi. And then it just ends. Because it needs to, not because it makes sense for it to do so.
If one half of the ending act is bad, then, is the film worth a watch? There’s some great character interactions throughout, with other action set pieces being better. The film does also mirror other scenes from the Original Trilogy (and one from Force Awakens), with most of them working to either naturally fit with the story or offer a nice bit of nostalgia from familiar sequences of the past. There’s also familiar musical cues returning and merging well with the new. And speaking of the music, it works well at doing what it sets out to do, offering plenty of impact when required. Some scenes don’t use music, and these also manage to land an impact.
And even though it rushes through things as it tries to fit an extra hour of content into its already long runtime, its easy to understand where things are going even if smaller details are lost or the impact is lessened. As a standalone entry, then, it’s great to go into. Tied as it is to the Sequel Trilogy, it offers a good enough ending for both it and the entire saga – even if it most of it was possibly only planned after The Last Jedi ended production. But as said, even through that botched execution, it manages to make it work. That’s all that can really be said for it.
It’s a difficult one to really give a recommendation for. The sequel trilogy has gone for a mostly tame expansion of the galaxy, except where Force powers are concerned. This trilogy has really gone to the extreme with that. However, as I said, it works as a standalone film that anyone looking for a simple, fun space adventure can enjoy. Looking deeper into it reveals the cracks and issues of the entire trilogy, and though Star Wars fans can enjoy the various factors it brings, if you aren’t invested in what came before it is unlikely you will find much to love with this one.
As I said at the start, it seems wrong for me to say that the best thing this trilogy has brought me is a LEGO game that sounds to be the greatest one yet. Though I love what this trilogy has brought us, I also can’t overlook the flawed execution and sloppy management it has been given. They are good films that, while not adding a whole lot to the galaxy, have allowed for new things to come through other mediums. Though Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isacc and the rest of the cast won’t ever return to the big screen, they have set up a piece of the timeline ripe for exploration through novels, comics, videogames, and even TV series, and that is always a great thing for those who want it.