By Rachel Byrd, News Desk Lead
During the making of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, George Lucas described the importance of cohesion between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy.
“It’s like poetry,” he said. “They rhyme.”
That quality appeared to be the same goal that the Star Wars sequel trilogy strove for from the beginning.
Unfortunately, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—and the sequel trilogy more broadly—doesn’t quite manage to rhyme with the rest of the Star Wars saga.
For all its flaws The Rise of Skywalker is not completely without merit. Daisy Ridley’s character, Rey, is at last given a defined personality. Ridley proves herself to be a talented actress capable of bringing life to the kind young Jedi who remains determined despite her fear.
Poe, Rey and Finn are finally together after two films with the main trio split apart.
John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac portray the relationship between Finn, Rey and Poe organically, making each scene they shared delightful to watch.
I enjoyed seeing Billy Dee Williams return to the role of Lando Calrissian. A few of the new characters, such as the droidsmith Babu Frik, were entertaining as well.
Outside of the characters and the acting, the scenery was intriguing and well-designed, with my personal favorite being the snowy planet of Kijima.
Even so, those qualities aren’t enough to fix the movie’s poor plotting. The death of Supreme Leader Snoke in The Last Jedi left the trilogy without a villain on the same tier as Emperor Palpatine, causing some serious story-related problems.
To fill the void, they brought back Palpatine himself.
This decision brings in a host of questions that go unanswered. In the broader scope of the saga, it also cheapens Vader’s redemption at the end of Return of the Jedi.
Elsewhere, the writers of the film fail to follow through on character beats and plot points they clearly set up earlier in the film, or even earlier in the trilogy.
By the end of the film, threads that were rather important early on go loosely tied, if they are even tied at all.
Lastly, the major twist of the film did not feel organic. It felt cheap. It felt like the screenwriters were trying to shock me, but they did not even manage to do that.
That said, these problems aren’t unique to the film itself. Other installments in the trilogy struggled with these points, leaving the three films feeling haphazard in their connection.
To me, The Rise of Skywalker is the strongest film of the sequel trilogy. Rey’s characterization and the trio’s interactions are not enough to make the film live up to other trilogy-closers such as Return of the Jedi or Revenge of the Sith, but they do lift it up considerably from The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens.
Regrettably, they are not enough to make this film a solid finish to the Skywalker saga.