How “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” almost ruined the Star Wars franchise


“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is the disappointing conclusion to the Skywalker Saga. (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Logo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Bryce West, Assistant News Editor

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is the ninth and final installment of the popular “Star Wars Skywalker Saga.” It had an almost impossible task to tie up all of the loose ends from the eight films prior. Not only does “The Rise of Skywalker” not live up to these expectations, but it also spits on the legacy of the films that came before.

“The Rise of Skywalker” came off the heels of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which was an incredibly divisive film amongst long-time fans of the franchise. “The Last Jedi” felt like a sidestep from what was set up in its predecessor, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” However, it did bring some interesting concepts to “Star Wars,” suggesting maybe things aren’t perfectly black and white. Maybe it is time for the Jedi to end and for a new era of force users to be born.

Instead of sticking to the plotlines that were set before it, “The Rise of Skywalker” derailed to a point that left the entire sequel trilogy feeling directionless. The entire film feels like a reaction to “The Last Jedi” and does everything in its power to undermine its existence. If fans hated “The Last Jedi” so much, “The Rise of Skywalker” could have been used to expand on those concepts so they could make sense with the characters we know and love.

The relationship between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Ben Solo (Adam Driver) is one of the most divisive parts of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

One thing I didn’t like in “The Last Jedi” was how they made Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) parents out to be nobodies. I would have been fine with this if they weren’t clearly teasing something about her lineage in “The Force Awakens.” However, making her the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is probably the stupidest thing they could have done.

Palpatine is the greatest evil in the “Star Wars” universe and was clearly killed off at the end of “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.” He was brought back in “The Rise of Skywalker” with little to no explanation and no build-up to his return. In later books and comics, it is explained that Palpatine had been experimenting with cloning himself and that is how he returned in the film. However, I shouldn’t have to read a book or comic book to understand a major plotline going on in a film franchise.

It was also revealed in expanded universe material that Rey’s dad (Billy Howle) was also a clone of Palpatine, but not a clone of the Palpatine we see in “The Rise of Skywalker.” Rey’s dad has a mind of his own and does not share the same thoughts as Palpatine. The clone, who is Palpatine’s “son,” gets married to a human woman and thus Rey is born. This is so needlessly complicated. I am well aware that her being a child of Luke (Mark Hamill), Han (Harrison Ford) or Leia (Carrie Fisher) would have been super predictable, but at least it could have made logical sense.

Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) on screen together for the first time after being apart in the first two films. (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The relationship between Rey and Ben Solo (Adam Driver), or Kylo Ren, was super dumb. In “The Last Jedi,” we get to see the two become a dyad in the force, which was a really cool concept. Now, all of a sudden, in “Rise of Skywalker,” they were in love with each other the whole time. What happened to the relationship between Rey and Finn (John Boyega)? I guess that was just one of the many other Finn plotlines that were completely forgotten in the sequel trilogy.

Speaking of Finn, throughout the film he constantly says that he has something really important to tell Rey. Never in the entire film does he tell Rey this incredibly important thing. We only learn later through expanded universe material that he is apparently a force user. Again, this has never been brought up or even teased in any of the films prior.

It has only been a few weeks since my last viewing of this film, and I have already forgotten what Poe (Oscar Isaac) was doing in this film. I know that he was in it, but I can’t think of a single major contribution that he brought to the table.

Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) delivers one of the most infamous lines in the film, “Somehow Palpatine has returned.” This line has been the subject of many memes since the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), who was a major character in “The Last Jedi,” was also left on the sidelines. This is likely another case of Lucasfilm’s reactionary storytelling with the negative fan reception of the character. So naturally, instead of improving upon the character and giving her something interesting to do, they just relegated her to a glorified extra role.

One of the only things I did enjoy in this film was the handling of General Leia. The original actress for Leia, Carrie Fisher, passed away in 2016, well before the shooting of this film. The filmmakers were able to use deleted scenes and various editing techniques to keep her in the film, which I thought was really cool. They never used CGI to put General Leia into scenes. It was always Carrie Fisher on screen, except for one flashback scene in which Leia was played by Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd.

Overall not only was this film an incredible disappointment but also a slap in the face to the legacy of the films that came before. Luckily, “Star Wars” has had a resurgence through high-budget series such as “The Mandalorian” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” on Disney+. Hopefully, Lucasfilm can keep this momentum and use these storytelling techniques in some of their future films, because films like “The Rise of Skywalker” don’t work.

Billie Lourd and her mother Carrie Fisher on the set of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Fisher died before filming for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” began, so filmmakers used unused footage from previous films. (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)