This review contains spoilers.
When The Force Awakens came out, it changed my life.
I had never seen any Star Wars film before that, but I was quickly drawn to the characters and inspiring messages that echo throughout the series.
I related to Kylo Ren and I fell in love with Rey and Finn instantly. I was intrigued by this new world that I was introduced to. It was the first time I had felt transported like that in a film since the Harry Potter series had ended.
Throughout my time in the Star Wars fandom, I’ve made lifelong friends and memories I will never forget. I will always cherish and appreciate what the franchise has given me, but that doesn’t mean all of it is perfect.
Although, for the most part, I had a fun time watching The Rise of Skywalker, I was left disappointed and confused. The more I thought about the film, the worse it got. I even started to question The Force Awakens, a film I considered to be one of my favorites before The Rise of Skywalker came out.
It’s becoming clear to me that there was never a cohesive plan for the trilogy that makes me wonder what really happened behind the scenes. From Rey being revealed as Palpatine’s daughter to her taking on the Skywalker name, I was left with a sinking feeling of frustration.
The theme of individuality that The Last Jedi established was scrapped. Instead, Rey’s immense power is explained by her relation to Palpatine. In a movie where one of our newest characters, Jannah, is insinuated as being Lando’s daughter, I felt insulted as a woman that these characters had to be related to someone to be interesting.
I wish any of this made actual sense in my head, but it just doesn’t. When Kylo reveals to Rey that her parents chose to be nobodies to hide her and themselves from Palpatine, I just kept wondering who would have a child with Palpatine? And how did Rey’s parents end up living a normal life before they met their end?
Even worse, Luke reveals that him and Leia had known the whole time. This doesn’t read at all in the last films just like Rey’s parentage doesn’t read either. I understand what writers J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio were trying to do with the Palpatine story, but I just wish they would have at least planned it out sooner. While I may not agree with the choices made in The Rise of Skywalker, I may have been able to let it slide if it at least made sense.
Other than that, the story felt too fast and jumpy. I felt like the whole movie was just climax at the rate they were moving and I can’t understand why they wouldn’t just extend the runtime to make it feel less disconcerting.
Along with all of this happening, a lot of characters were introduced leaving characters like Rose and Lt. Connix on the sidelines. With the culmination of this saga and this trilogy, I would’ve liked to see all the characters come together and engage in cool battles and missions, but instead we were introduced to random new characters that were fun, but made the story feel even more discombobulated.
On the bright side, I had almost no qualms with the way Kylo’s redemption was handled. Although I was very hopeful that it would happen, the first half of the film made me really believe that there was a possibility he’d have a Darth Vader-esque redemption in his final moments, which I really didn’t want to see. Instead, Ben’s redemption scenes were some of the best scenes of the whole film.
During the epic lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo against raging ocean waters, Leia calls to Ben in her last moments before her death. Kylo falters and Rey loses control and stabs him with his own lightsaber. After Rey feels Leia die, she realizes what she’s done and force heals Kylo. She reveals to him that she did want to take his hand, but as Ben and not Kylo.
Rey says this to Kylo like an omission of love.
He then confront his demons by taking one last look at the memory that’s been plaguing him- the murder of his father, Han Solo.
Instead of letting the memory plague him, Ben finally plays out the memory as it should’ve been with love and forgiveness from both ends. He finally sheds the Kylo persona he took on when he came to the Dark Side and throws his Kylo Ren saber into the ocean.
The performances that Adam Driver (Ben Solo) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) put on for this scene were incredible. Not many words were spoken and many were taken from their exchange in The Force Awakens (since Han is only a memory), but the way they captured those feelings of grief, forgiveness and finally, resolution in only a couple minutes was astounding.
I only wish Ben would’ve got to have some of the same kinds of scenes with Luke and Anakin. Darth Vader was a clear motivation in Ben’s life as Kylo and I think it would’ve been great payoff to see Anakin talk to Ben and give him some wisdom.
Instead, Rey is the one who calls to the Jedi and we hear their voices bringing her back and giving her the strength she needs to defeat Palpatine. While it is a cool scene, I would’ve liked to have had more involvement from past characters to really feel like we’re tying up the Saga.
In the end, Rey dies giving up all her energy to stop Palpatine and Ben gives his life for hers. It’s poetic and romantic as they meet the end of their journey together with an epic kiss. It confirms the longing they feel for each other in the past films and brings together two really interesting and complex characters.
Although, it doesn’t feel like we got to spend as much time as we could’ve with redeemed Ben Solo and I personally think it would have been more advantageous for him to live and be a representation of restoration of balance to the force.
Instead, after the war has ended and the Resistance has won, Rey visits Tatooine to bury her and Leia’s lightsabers where she proclaims herself as “Rey Skywalker”.
The end of this epic Skywalker Saga ended in more questions than answers. From Palpatine to Tatooine to Rey taking on the Skywalker name, it seems like history is just repeating itself. J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio do nothing to tie up balance in the force or peace for the galaxy.
Nothing is special or different about this big last battle. The main character defeated the same big bad again and the Resistance wins. It’s the same story over again, just a couple decades later.
I’m left only with the worrying feeling that the same cycle will repeat again.