I am not a Star Wars fanboy and this review has spoilers. Nobody is going to decide to see The Rise of Skywalker based on critics' opinions. Like most critics, I enjoyed The Last Jedi, while audiences were disappointed. Just like critics again, I didn’t find The Rise of Skywalker to be that great. Rose was a great character that played a pivotal role in The Last Jedi but she is obviously sidelined in this movie to placate the masses outrage. There were a lot of racist filed complaints about her role in The Last Jedi.
Carrie Fisher’s death put J. J. Abrams in a tough spot. Princess Leia had to be included, but the only dialog that was available was B-roll. This leads to an uninspiring leader who seems weak as others make decisions around her. I am not sure what else could have been done, but this is Princess Leia’s weakest movie by far. It is not the final movie she deserves.
J. J. Abrams directed episode VII and Rian Johnson directed episode VIII. He makes a heavy-handed course correction to all the positives that Rian Johnson had implemented in The Last Jedi. This movie is 100% fan service much to its own detriment. There are callbacks to most of the previous films that don’t advance the plot. They only serve to make fanboys who were upset with The Last Jedi happy again.
There is a budding romance between Rey and Finn that doesn’t need to be in the movie. When Finn almost tells Rey that he loves her I understood it, but it wasn’t necessary. The movie then returns to those unspoken words two more times for no reason. To make matters worse Rey kisses Kylo after he becomes good for all of five minutes. WHY! Why does Rey have to kiss anyone, much less the guy that has been manipulating her for so long? Do you feel bad for Finn, well don’t because he found another black person to instantly fall in love with… Also, Poe gets a lady friend.
The other major problem I had with this movie was how it had a lot more ‘Tell’ than ‘Show.’ We are told who Rey’s parents are. Somehow everyone else already knows this information, but Rey hasn’t figured it out. We are told that Rey and Kylo’s power can combine to become stronger than anything else. Their combined power is so strong that it can be sucked out of them to bring Emperor Palpatine back to life once again. A good movie has nuance and lets the viewers figure things out or allows characters to put A and B together on their own without being told C. Rey’s split-second decision to take the last name Skywalker at the end of the movie and justify the title was a weak effort. She could have corrected history by using her Palpatine moniker and doing good for the universe.
I would love to see Rian Johnson’s take on The Rise of Skywalker. He made a great movie with The Last Jedi only to have J. J. Abrams stomp over all the great work. This movie didn’t change my opinion on the entire Star Wars saga; I enjoyed it, but there are some movies that don’t need a re-watch. If you love Star Wars and didn’t like the direction of The Last Jedi, then you will enjoy this movie. If you wanted to root for Rose, prepare to be disappointed. If this was not the capstone to a nine movie series I think my rating would have been lower.