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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: An Epic Anti-Climax

By: Drew Huddleston

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens with every praiseworthy element of the previous two films. Creative, well-directed action, Adam Diver’s magnetic performance, and a haunting melody from John Williams create a promising start to the two-and-a-half-hour long conclusion to the Star Wars saga. Yet, in those two-and-a-half hours, the film forgets to slow down and give time to the most important elements of these, or any film: the characters and story. 

Although the film’s dense plot is not exceptionally convoluted in execution, it rushes through major story elements extremely quickly as it tries to wrap up the nine-film saga without the proper build-up supplied by episodes seven and eight. It makes for a fast-paced, exciting experience, but one devoid of emotion and humanity. Looking back, my favorite moments weren’t the loud and cluttered action scenes or obnoxiously-forced fan service, but rather the small, minimal moments of sentiment given to the characters. 

Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver remain the best elements of the film, pouring everything they have into their characters even with a lousy script whittling them into nothing more than plot-lacking conflict. New characters come and go so fast they may as well not been included in the film. While there are some creative concepts on display at times, the film sadly devolves into the same things we’ve known since 1983: good vs. evil, planet-destroying weapons, personal destiny, x-wings, tie fighters, star destroyers, and dark lords.  

Yet, the most infuriating part of the franchise’s epic conclusion is that it feels anti-climactic too often. Because each of the previous two films tried to take the trilogy in a different direction rather than working together to tell one overarching story (ala Lord of the Rings), The Rise of Skywalker feels adhesive to the vision of episodes seven and eight (especially episode eight). The movie’s biggest twists aren’t effective because they appear out of the blue, and its most triumphant moments are severely undermined by the fact that they haven’t been properly built up. It’s hard to believe that the same company who meticulously created the most successful cinematic universe of all time failed to create a successful Star Wars trilogy because of poor planning.  

J.J. Abrams’ conclusion is well-directed, features some engaging action scenes, and has enough homages and fan service to draw the saga to a close. When it slows down, The Rise of Skywalker makes for an emotionally satisfying and heart-stirring farewell to a galaxy far far away. It’s a shame the film’s rushed, flashy, and anti-climatic stories rarely make room for

these moments.

Grade: C-

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