Many long-time Star Wars fans may feel cautious about becoming too excited for the latest Star Wars film, especially considering the critical reception of the previous two movies.
The Rise of Skywalker provides a great viewing experience, however, taking the story and themes of the new Star Wars trilogy back to the franchises’ roots with an entertaining conclusion.
The film has everything a Star Wars fan could want – intense lightsaber battles reminiscent of Revenge of the Sith’s Mustafar duel, space battles on an epic scale, betrayal and redemption, and a renewed focus on important characters.
It struggles under the weight of the previous two films, however – specifically their lack of character development and questionable lore-altering events which left many fans scratching their heads.
Our thoughts on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are outlined below, free from any major spoilers.
Some might feel that the film has too much going on, but it is important to note that about half of the fast-paced storytelling aims to acknowledge and quickly counteract decisions made during the previous two movies.
Events like Holdo’s hyperdrive manoeuvre, the two-dimensional character of Snoke, and the uncharacteristic behaviour of classic characters over the previous movies are acknowledged in The Rise of Skywalker, and then just as quickly dismissed.
These moments pervade the otherwise epic and tense storyline of the film, and it often feels like the movie jumps the rails for a moment as it constantly has to explain how its new and interesting ideas fit in with the previous two films.
It is undoubtedly the best of the new trilogy, with the major conflicts resembling something more familiar to fans while many important characters get a fair amount of well-deserved depth.
Characters which were introduced to little effect in the previous movies are once again acknowledged and just as quickly dismissed, with the film deciding to get on with being a Star Wars movie and not get bogged down too much in anything but the skeleton of the previous films.
And when it gets going, The Rise of Skywalker is a pure Star Wars film at heart, hampered only by being limited to a cast of roughly-sketched characters who must be moulded into something relatable by the end.
A satisfying conclusion
It does accomplish this, however, although one can’t help but think of how much better the movie would be if it were preceded by two of the same calibre.
The Rise of Skywalker does the right thing by tossing out the lukewarm storylines of the previous movies in favour of a classic experience – complete with heroic character arcs, an escalating conflict, and a powerful conclusion.
It must have been difficult to find a way to ramp up the stakes after the first film in the new trilogy saw the First Order destroying entire solar systems with a single weapon, but The Rise of Skywalker manages it.
The movie is anything but understated. It simultaneously tells viewers that, yes, some of the events in the previous movies were a bit odd, but this a Star Wars movie, so buckle up.
While it does feel rushed at times, The Rise of Skywalker has an epic feeling occasionally reminiscent of that of the classic films.
Star Wars is pure science fiction – it asks the viewer to suspend their belief in favour of a better viewing experience – a task made much easier by actually imbuing the characters with some depth and relatability, and allowing viewers to become invested in their story.
The Rise of Skywalker manages to do this, although as it tries to cram three movies’ worth of real Star Wars action into less than two and a half hours, it does tend to rush the audience along.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available in theatres nationwide from 20 December 2019.