When The Last Jedi was released in 2017, it seemed impossible that there could be another Star Wars film that would become just as widely hated by fans, but 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker was the final nail in the coffin for Disney and Lucasfilm’s sequel trilogy. While nowhere near as ‘out there’ as its predecessor, Episode IX lacks coherent storytelling and wastes time introducing new characters at the last minute when it should focus on the likes of Rey and Finn.
Shoehorned cameos and subplots also led to harsh criticisms, as did the fact that the film ignores the events of The Last Jedi. The trailer promised an epic finale with some major character exits, but the final product turned out to be a mediocre affair. But was it all that bad in hindsight? The prequel trilogy divided fans for years, until they probably started to appreciate the fact that George Lucas’ trilogy at least had direction from the get-go.
And by comparison to its two follow-ups, even the ‘play-it-safe’ Episode VII: The Force Awakens now seems like a much better film. But will fans ever appreciate The Rise of Skywalker? It might never be possible, but we happen to think that the final episode in the trilogy does at least tick a few boxes. So whether you agree or disagree, here are 7 things we think The Rise of Skywalker gets right – even if it gets so many other things wrong in the process!
7. The Use of Animatronics
It might seem like a weak entry, but the choice to use animatronics, puppets, costumes and prosthetic make-up over CGI is an admirable effort on the filmmakers’ part, and is also consistent with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. From the giant Vexis snake that’s guarding the Wayfinder to our little friend Babu Frik, The Rise of Skywalker makes great strides to avoid computerized special effects unless absolutely necessary.
While this is hardly something that can remedy all the film’s flaws (of which there are plenty), it at least helps the film to look more believable from start to finish, and also immerse viewers into the Star Wars universe – which is more than we can say about the prequel trilogy, which relies heavily on greenscreen and CGI, something that continues to leave fans scratching their heads while struggling to believe in what they’re seeing unfold on the screen.
6. The Emperor
Hearing the voice of Emperor Palpatine in the trailers for The Rise of Skywalker sent chills down our spines, and it also plunged the fanbase into theory-mode for the best part of a year until the movie came out. But while seeing him alive and kicking in the film is very confusing, having the most feared Sith Lord in the galaxy return to the fold was probably the best fixer-upper after Supreme Leader Snoke was jarringly killed in The Last Jedi.
It’s not really his screen presence that’s the problem – it’s his existence. And what we think works is Ian McDiarmid’s portrayal. Shrouded in the shadows of his Sith Temple, he’s at his most unsettling, and as such gives the film that little bit of edge it would otherwise be visibly lacking. It even makes up for some of the nonsensical events that follow (are those long-buried Star Destroyers being piloted by zombies?!).
5. Rey’s Heritage
Say what you will about Rey, but we think she gets a hard time from fans! Not only is she a strong female Star Wars character, Daisy Ridley puts in a solid effort throughout the entire trilogy – and The Rise of Skywalker is no exception. With that said, her character does inexplicably go from strength to strength, but in hindsight, it’s this that lends to the fact that she turns out to be the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine.
After all, her powers include Force Lightning and Force Teleportation – something we had never really seen a Jedi do up until this point. While The Last Jedi’s idea of a ‘Rey from Nowhere’ would have been a far more relatable ‘zero-to-hero’ approach, seeing Rey turn down the offer to become a Sith in the final act of the third movie at least gives her character a little more depth before we bid her farewell.
4. Force Teleportation
While many fans continue to scoff at this plot device, Force Teleportation actually makes for some unique and creative action sequences in the film, as well as some compelling interactions between Rey and Kylo Ren. Not only that, but it’s a great way to show that the Force isn’t just limited to everything we had already seen in both the original trilogy and prequel trilogy. There’s simply nothing in those films to suggest that the Force has limits.
There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to Force abilities either, so it makes sense that some Jedi are able to different things to others. It’s likely that the decision to include Force Teleportation was a case of style-over-substance, though, but it still works incredibly well in this film. It also highlights how powerful both Rey and Kylo Ren are, which is a necessary tool to have them both show down against the Emperor of all people.
3. Kylo Ren
Many fans will agree that Kylo Ren is the only consistent part of the sequel trilogy, and his arc finally comes to an end in The Rise of Skywalker. His character isn’t without flaw, though, as his backstory is paper-thin at best, with the only explanation behind why he’s so twisted and maniacal being the fact he was a Padawan under his uncle Luke’s tutelage, a time during which he was being tempted by Supreme Leader Snoke.
We also don’t even fully understand why he became so disconnected from his parents Han Solo and Princess Leia in the first place (so much so that he killed Han Solo – or did he?!). Nevertheless, Kylo Ren is the most interesting and dynamic character in the trilogy, and Episode IX ends his story, in part redeeming him and briefly reuniting him with his father in the only touching scene in the film. Needless to say, Kylo Ren is now an iconic Star Wars villain.
2. The Final Fight
You might already be rolling your eyes, as the final galactic dogfight in the sequel trilogy is anything but the epic finale we were promised in The Rise of Skywalker trailer. Out of nowhere, the entire galaxy decides to listen to Poe Dameron’s uninspired speech and show up to the fight against the Final Order. It might seem nostalgic for a few seconds, but we don’t even get that incredible bombastic rendition of John Williams’ iconic score from the trailer!
But we’re actually talking about the fight between Rey and her grandfather. After the Sith Lord quickly does away with Kylo Ren, he subdues Rey. But just as she’s about to perish, several familiar voices speak to her beyond from the Force, all of whom empower her to ‘rise’ and defeat the Emperor once and for all. This scene is further proof that the film at least knows what it’s doing when it comes to thrilling action sequences.
1. Rey’s Ending
What really seems to get people’s blood boiling about The Rise of Skywalker is the fact that Rey takes on the Skywalker name. But we don’t understand what’s so bad about this, as we see Luke and Leia’s Force Ghosts giving Rey their blessing. Not only that, but if there’s another consistent thread throughout the sequel trilogy besides Kylo Ren, it’s Rey’s search for parenthood, a theme that’s present in all three films.
Rey is an orphan from Jakku, who looks for a parental figure in everyone she meets – Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. So it makes sense for her to finally find family in some shape or form, even if the real Skywalkers are gone. Referring to herself as ‘Rey Skywalker’ is also her way of denouncing her true bloodline – and who would want to admit they’re related to the Palpatines?! Besides, Rey Skywalker has quite a ring to it.
The Rise of Skywalker will probably always be considered one of the worst Star Wars movies – and it’s understandable seeing as it does little to remedy the mistakes The Last Jedi made. And whether or not the rumors about Disney and Lucasfilm retconning the sequel trilogy are true remain to be seen.
It’s possible, though, that a Star Wars TV show could help ‘fix’ the sequel trilogy, just like Star Wars: The Clone Wars did with the prequel trilogy in many ways. Alternatively, Disney and Lucasfilm could just make the most out of the fact that time travel exists in the Star Wars universe and wipe the slate clean! Star Wars multiverse, anyone?