I’m a huge Star Wars fan and was excited to see The Rise of Skywalker last night. This was the final movie in the Star Wars saga (at least in the Skywalker story line as Disney promises to have many spinoffs from the main series).
There will be spoilers in this review so please stop reading if you don’t want to see them!
Okay, so first off, we know Palpatine is coming back from the trailers. And right from the moving text at the start of the movie, we learn that he’s back and trying to get power again. Kylo Ren is upset by this as he wants to remain in control. Palpatine also asks Kylo to find Rey and make her join the dark side or destroy her.
An interesting premise. But right away my thoughts were how this came out of no where and totally ignored much of what happened in The Last Jedi. I wasn’t as negative about The Last Jedi as many others. I thought it was fine. But the plot certainly had some holes and the story wasn’t that compelling. So I was totally okay with this movie going a different direction.
Palpatine is hidden in this in unknown region where he has constructed a secret force of star destroyers who each have planet destroying capabilities. And he is planning on releasing them in the Final Order.
The plot here was a little rushed and hard to follow. Okay, so Palpatine was hiding out after Return of the Jedi in this secret place and created a new scheme to crush the rebellion once and for all. I guess it took him awhile and that’s why he didn’t do it sooner.
Finally, we also learn that Palpatine was behind Snoke and was controlling everything the whole time. It was amusing to see a few “Pickled Snokes” in a big jar in Palpatine’s lair. I guess Palpatine just had a bunch of potential Sith clones he could use if he wanted. But I was glad we finally learned about Snoke because that was annoying how quickly he appeared and disappeared in the story.
Anyway, there is a spy in the First Order who leaks some information about this new secret plan of Palpatine. The spy we learn was General Hux. Who was motivated because he “wants to see Kylo Ren lose.” Mildly interesting/confusing that Hux would be so mad about Kylo having power that he would risk destroying the entire Empire, but okay.
There is a search for the secret Palpatine base for the first half of the movie. Rey and the gang search around and get some help from Lando to find clues. During this time, we learn a few more important things. 1) Rey is wicked strong with the force and can do things like control space ships and force heal. but 2) we finally learn that Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter.
I liked this backstory. It makes sense as to why Rey is incredibly strong with the force without much training (although we finally see her train a little with Leia in this movie, which was nice and made her powers more understandable). However, we learn very little about Rey’s grandmother and her parents. As far as I can tell, Palpatine and his mysterious lover had kids. Who then escaped for some reason. And then hid their kid (Rey) away from Palpatine. But Palpatine killed Rey’s parents trying to find Rey. But Rey survived and got away from Palpatine because they sold Rey off so she could hide. I found it confusing and hard to follow.
I know it’s hard to fit this much story in part of one movie, but I really wish they extended on this story line in The Last Jedi instead of essentially wasting much of the time they had to develop a plot.
Anyway, Rey finds this out from Kylo and she goes to destroy Palpatine at his secret lair. Before she goes, she has a battle with Kylo and Kylo almost beats her. But Leia uses the force (and the last of her life energy) to reach out to her son, distracting him and letting Rey get away. So this is how Leia dies. Again, kind of confusing that just reaching out to her son would kill her, but okay. I knew they had to kill her off and I’m glad Leia had some screentime, but you could kind of tell that didn’t have many scenes to work with before Carrie Fisher died. Which is really sad. I would have liked to see her have a bigger/more central role in this movie.
So Kylo is disoriented from his mom reaching out to him. And then his dad, Han Solo, appears. It was surprising (but cool) to see Harrison Ford in this movie. He was just a memory and told his son it’s not too late to change. And finally Kylo Ren throws his lightsaber away and “knows what he has to do” and goes after Rey. So he does become “good” at this point.
Rey finds Palpatine in the secret lair. Again, it was a weird place and he’s alive via some mechanical process that holds him upright on a pole. Seeing “Palpatine on a stick” is also kind of amusing. It wasn’t ever described how he survived The Return of The Jedi. Did he make a clone? Did he save part of him through the Dark Side? We don’t find out beyond some vague mentions of how the Dark Side allows for unnatural abilities. I guess some of Palpatines’ life energy is holding on somehow, but he’s not strong enough to try and take over again. Palpatine says if Rey “strikes him down with anger” then she will rule the galaxy (and he will be part of her and can rule too). Very similar to Return of the Jedi as there is also a battle going in the background between the Rebels and the secret fleet from the Palpatine.
And like Return of the Jedi, the Rebels had to deactivate some shield generator so they could attack the new ships, who would all be briefly vulnerable. A different spin here was that they did not have enough troops until Poe (who is now acting general after Leia dies) sends a galaxy wide signal asking for help. And finally random ships of people sympathetic to the Alliance appear. And I guess this was a connection to The Last Jedi showing that there are lots of people who support the Rebels. I liked that connection at least.
Finally, we see the showdown between Rey and Palpatine. Kylo also appears and then we see a nice fight scene here with Palpatine’s guards too. Basically, it comes down to Rey using all of the powers of previous Jedis (we hear many of their voices, which was cool) and Palpatine using all the powers of previous Siths. Rey wins, but it essentially kills her. Why all the Jedis are ultimately stronger than all the Siths, we don’t know. The good guys win I guess.
So Rey is dead and Kylo (Ben Solo now) finds her and gives her his life energy so she can return to life. Ben/Kylo sacrifices himself so Rey can live. They kiss and Ben disappears into the force (I guess he died good and is on the Light Side now). I didn’t mind this ending. It was likely Kylo was going to die somehow. Him sacrificing himself to save Rey was a selfless move (though it could be awkward/impossible for him to try and go back to the Rebels as a good guy now).
So everyone celebrates as Rey defeats Palpatine and the Rebels (and their friends) blow up the final fleet. Rey also ends the movie by calling herself Rey Skywalker. She chose to call herself something different. Which I guess symbolizes that people can rise above what their “true calling” or “bloodline” suggests.
Overall, I liked the movie. It was certainly the best of the Disney movies (7,8, and 9). It was a satisfying ending. And it was just fun to watch. The plot was rushed and confusing in some parts (and it would have been nice if they used the 8th movie to fix this), but oh well. Star Wars to me is more about the feeling that good can conquer evil if people work together. It’s not much more complicated than that mixed with space battles. And it certainly succeeded on those accounts.