Movie Review: Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

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Summary: The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more as Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron’s journey continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. Obviously, we have a ton of returning characters but I’m not going to hit them all. I’m really only going to focus on the ones we spend the movie with because they’re who we’ve become acquainted with. Carrie Fisher passed before the filming of this movie so while Leia is still here, it’s through repurposed unreleased footage from TFA. But she’s great.
  • Daisy Ridley as Rey. She is a scavenger from Jakku. Where we find her in this movie, she is training, to become better etc. Once they get a lead on how they could defeat The First Order, she goes on a series of quests with Finn and Poe. Throughout the film, we see Rey continue to struggle with her who she is, where she comes from. This film ultimately deals with her identity. We get to see this struggle throughout the film and Daisy Ridley does a great job at portraying the various states of emotions Rey finds herself going through. I think she really shines in the third act of the film because she’s emotional and it almost seems uncontrollable at times. I like Rey, I think she’s interesting and finding out her lineage was interesting and I like how they first showed us confirmation on that. This whole “Mary Sue” thing I see online about her, I think is stupid. For one, if Rey is a Mary Sue then so was Luke Skywalker. Sure, she’s good at a lot of things but considering how she had to survive on her own for her entire life, it makes sense she makes sure she’s great at things. Anyway, I just wanted to say that lol.
  • John Boyega as Finn. He is a former stormtrooper who defected to the Resistance. This is probably the most I’ve liked him in the trilogy which is a shame because I find John Boyega very charismatic and likable. In this one, he’s come into his own as being part of the Resistance, he’s brave and willing to do what he needs to do in order to protect his friends and the world. It’s no longer a “every man for himself” kind of thing. Throughout the film, there’s something he’s been trying to tell Rey and spoiler alert, he never gets to tell her and I think he wanted to tell her he’s Force Sensitive which is something we as the audience already knows from the first film. I would assume that Rey would know considering she’s a Jedi.
  • Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. He’s my favorite lol and it’s not just because I adore Oscar Isaac, which is a major part of it but I liked him since his first sequence in the first film lol. He is a high-ranking X-wing fighter pilot and commander of the Resistance. Poe went through a lot last movie and I think he really comes full circle in this one, because he’s not as arrogant as he was about knowing what’s best for everyone (like in TLJ), I mean he’s still a little arrogant lol, but not in the same way. His lesson is leadership and feeling like he’s earned the roles given to him by Leia. I think is probably my favorite version of Poe as well, just because he gets to be lighthearted and sassy which works for his character. I love Oscar Isaac. That’s it lol.
  • Adam Driver as Ben Solo / Kylo Ren. He is the Supreme Leader of the First Order. Born as Ben Solo, he is the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, the nephew of Luke Skywalker and grandson of Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader. His role in this one is very different than we’ve seen in the past. I feel like he wasn’t as prominent in this one but perhaps that was the point. Just like Rey, he’s going through a lot emotionally as well, identity and all that. But that’s all because I can’t get into it without spoiling things. But Adam Driver is great in this role, this is probably the most I’ve liked him as well. I thought he was interesting but I can’t say I liked him or anything before. But I liked what we see out of him here.
Character Chemistry. This is always important when you have characters who spend a lot of time together. It’s important they work well together, if the chemistry is off, you can tell. Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and John Boyega work really well together and I’ll get into this in the cons as well, but the moments we get to see them working together, or when they have a moment to go back and forth, are moments I really enjoyed. I wish we got more of that to really establish their friendship.
Some Interesting Character Arcs. This is particularly for Rey, Poe and Kylo. Being that the trilogy has been about Rey and Kylo, it makes sense that their arcs parallel each other. I think they’re done well. As I said, Rey has identity issues she has to work through and I think that’s handled pretty well. Same with Kylo, they’ve built up his issues since the first film and he really gets his chance for that to come full circle. As for Poe, he’s dealing with the whole being a leader thing, leading people and all that. I think though, that mostly because a struggle towards the end. But I like those arcs though. As for Finn, I  think his arc was handled before this movie because he seems really competent and confident here. So that’s a win.
Visual Effects Are Amazing. Y’all this movie is amazing in how a lot of the effects are handled. There is this great shot of them standing over rushing dark waters and that was some beautiful technology right there. Not to mention, the fight between Rey and Kylo while on that water, also pretty dope. Then, at the end, there is a shot of Rey walking between these two giant black walls and you see this blue light flashing. It was amazing. Technically, this movie has a lot going for it. The opening sequence with Poe, Finn and Chewie on The Falcon was awesome! I mean, I was really into it from the beginning.
Cons: 
Weak Storytelling. Listen, I feel like nothing happened in this movie lol until we got to the last act. I just remember thinking “what is the point of this and this and this?” because when we got to the end, some of it didn’t seem as important or that we didn’t need it. Maybe it’s because I didn’t feel any tension? *thinking face* They just jumped from place to place with mini quests and don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but the real meat comes at the end. Everything else felt frivolous. I wonder if that’s because Rain Johnson deviated a lot from what JJ Abrams wanted to do? I mean, I don’t know what the full plan was but The Last Jedi feels out of place with The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker. So maybe that’s part of the problem, JJ was trying to correct some wrongs.
Main Three Friendship. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the chemistry between the main three, just like I said in the “pros”. But my big problem is that I feel shafted in their time together. When Poe and Finn get back to wherever the Resistance is and the three have this moment where they go back and forth, particularly Poe and Rey arguing about The Falcon and BB-8. It was cute and I laughed but then we don’t really get to see Rey and Poe connect again. I really like their dynamic, even if viewers wanted romance between all three or two of the three, which is fine, but I feel like the movies never quite established how close they are to even earn their big hug. I get more out of their friendship in fanfiction then I have in the films.
Plot Twist Reveals/No Tension. This is big big spoilers so I can’t go into it though I’m sure people have already figured it out, but while the reveal is cool, the way it’s gone about is really lame. Again, I’m sure part of it has to do with the fact that the second movie feels out of place because I feel like the reveal happens so fast, that it fizzles when it should ignite. I mean, it’s cool to watch everything come to a head at the end, but again there’s no tension! I don’t feel any tension! Plus the stuff with Kylo at the end, it’s just… I mean, again, I don’t know everything about SW but some stuff feels like it was either added/changed at the last minute or it was just… bleh. It’s really frustrating now that I think about it.
Overall, I enjoyed myself and I think I enjoyed this one out of the sequel trilogy the most. I don’t know why but I did lol. I continue to like Rey, Finn and Poe but I like them the most here. It seems like there was a bit more fun to be had and whenever they got to work off each other, they did it really well. The use of sound in this movie is great, between the score and how they combine the score with sound effects to add tension in later scenes. This movie has fantastic visual effects, I particularly like the shots with the moving water. There are some interesting character arcs going on in the movie, particularly for Kylo, Rey and Poe. I feel like Finn completed his arc before this movie but after TLJ lol. I’m a casual Star Wars fan, so I feel like this movie does a pretty good job at closing the Skywalker story. I mean, I sure there’s a ton left to do but I don’t think I’d be disappointed if they didn’t include anyone else related to the Skywalkers. Unless it’s Poe. I want more Poe content. He has a comic series, let’s do a spin off series lol. Now, I do think the storytelling element is pretty weak in the film, it just feels monotonous until the end and I feel shafted out of seeing a true and fleshed out friendship between Rey, Poe and Finn. I also think there isn’t much tension when there should be. There’s some big important stuff that is revealed and I think if it was handled better and not just thrown away, it would have landed harder in this film. I think that’s the issue you face when you have a trilogy done by two different directors. Everyone doesn’t have the same vision. Anyways, I don’t think The Rise of Skywalker is horrible, I quite liked it. It’s a good adventure to spend your time watching.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. 
Have you seen Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker? If so, what are your thoughts? If you have a dissertation to write, please, feel free. I’d love to hear thoughts, especially from viewers who are more than casual Star Wars fans. Let me know in the comments.
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