We’ve finally reached the end of the latest Star Wars saga. It’s a bit of a relief, really. The back-and-forth debates over the pros and cons of The Force Awakens vs. The Last Jedi will never be settled but does The Rise of Skywalker provide us with a satisfactory conclusion?
In our lead review, we declared it was neither a major success or failure, saying “Far from reprehensible, The Rise of Skywalker manages initially to evoke frustration, which evolves to a profound apathy defined by questions of what could’ve been.”
But what did the rest of the team think of Episode IX? We asked them to throw in their two cents.
Sophie – 3/5
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a fever dream whose plot reads like a mashup of angry Reddit posts; but there’s joy in the mess. A plethora of dropped narrative threads, character left-turns, and pacing a marathon like a hundred-metre sprint, in trying to please everyone it may well please no one. And yet. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver knock the film’s beating heart out of the park; their complex conflict and emotional vulnerability pushes sometimes clunky dialogue and odd reveals away like lost thoughts. In their wake, it’s hard not to leave the cinema with hope.
Alex – 2/5
The Last Jedi divided opinions but we ought to unite in agreeing how uninspired this end to the saga is. All fan service, it sidelines Episode VIII’s stars and undoes any high stakes. Instead we get a pale retread of Return of the Jedi crossed with Frozen 2 – without the charm of either. Comping in Carrie Fisher’s footage barely passes, and Finn is all but forgotten. It’s just saved from quicksand by Adam Driver’s extraordinary talent and the unstoppable charm of Oscar Isaac (who at least gets to ditch the last installment’s MRA persona). Time to let this franchise rest in peace.
Calum – 2/5
There’s technically much to enjoy here, insofar as there are whiz-bang sequences and clever effects. But Abrams doesn’t understand that he isn’t king here, as he was with The Force Awakens and with Star Trek; he is instead on the backfoot, tasked with proving that this isn’t a mere reactive to Twitter conversations about the last film. And he does nothing to assuage those assumptions, instead leaning into an assembly of hasty decisions and actively poor editing. At least with the Disney-Marvel theme park the committee storytelling has clear narrative form; this can’t even manage the requisite number of hired laugh-lines.
Bertie – 3/5
Well, what did you expect? The Rise of Skywalker is the answer to the questions “How does a nine-film saga end without finishing Star Wars?” and “What happens if you start a trilogy without a plan?” – and it’s a far better answer than it could have been. Yes, it’s deeply self-referential and congratulatory, but at its heart this is as pure a Star Wars film as any. New subplots and characters are introduced and despatched at lightspeed, but while there’s never a dull moment many don’t find resolution. Destined to be rewatched and remembered, but not revered.
Phil – 3/5
This is how the Skywalker Saga ends – not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with the contented sigh of a job basically well done. Whatever you think of J.J. Abrams, he knows how to craft an entertaining blockbuster, and The Rise of Skywalker is undeniably entertaining to watch. All the same, it is disappointing to see him dive back into the comfort blanket after Rian Johnson opened up a galaxy of possibilities in The Last Jedi. The image of the young boy holding a broom like a lightsaber is seared into my brain, but Episode IX is already starting to fade from memory.
Carmen – 2/5
The final instalment of Disney’s first trilogy is maddeningly slight: the world-expanding plot points and character development of The Last Jedi are jettisoned in favour of nonstop action, never allowing any choice to land, breathe, and realise its impact on the universe. Admittedly, The Rise of Skywalker would read differently were it not preceded by the bravest blockbuster of the 2010s – Star Wars has always had a place for the fun and fanciful, and Abrams’ film looks gorgeous – but reverting to the safest, least surprising options deflates genuine characterisation. Instead, we are given retconned information that renders internal motives hollow.