Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Unmasks a Flawed Finale to Beloved Saga

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Design by Laura Renfroe

Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker offers apprehensive audiences a generic space Macguffin-themed chase with a storyline that brought many fans immense disappointment.

Laura Renfroe, Staff Writer

Star Wars is branded for its bizarre creatures, high-scale dogfights, lightsaber duels, and  diverse worlds ranging from blood-red beaches to ice-capped planets. Being one of the most successful movie franchises of all time, director  J.J. Abrams felt the pressure to complete this saga that all started in 1977 with the golden-haired boy who rose to fight the vast Galactic Empire controlled by a man in a mask. The Rise of Skywalker’s concluding result to this worldwide phenomenon was, simply to say it, lacking.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is almost like a poorly made Star Wars sundae served to audiences in hopes to please the masses. The glass jar is an adequate base of outstanding visuals and emotional acting, yet topped with a fluffed storyline and a bruised cherry. 

This movie was served up in a good light, but the majority of fans who tried it out felt deprived and confused after finishing the conclusion to such a legendary saga.

In the film, it is discovered by the rebels that the infamous Emperor Palpatine did not die in the hands of Darth Vader so long ago. Finn and Poe, accompanied by friendly droids and Chewie, must lead the Resistance to put a stop to the First Order’s plans to develop a new Empire. 

Rey, experiencing conflicting inner dark emotions, must prepare for her inevitable final confrontation with Kylo Ren. New and old faces are brought into the spotlight as unexpected romance blossoms and sacrifices are made.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker officially crossed $1 billion at the box office worldwide, making it Disney’s seventh film in 2019 to hit the mark. The film, however, took longer than its predecessors to achieve $1 billion, one out of many indications that the ninth Star Wars production just did not satisfy audiences compared to others.

Despite the unsatisfactory elements in the movie, the strong and talented acting cast and advanced CGI shine. With actors like Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley to lead, it was hard to go wrong with the heart-stirring emotion they portrayed. 

In consideration of the CGI and visuals alone, the movie was a solid 9/10: something you couldn’t expect any less out of a Star Wars film. 

The cinematography and use of old, beloved characters was a sufficient approach to please any casual, indifferent movie-watchers. But for the hard-core Skywalker enthusiasts, the movie seemed to lightsaber impale any remaining hopes for J.J. Abrams reviving the fandom bond.

While some moments in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker resonate with breath-taking cinematic and emotional elements, the remainder of the film borders on a tottering mess.

Undoubtedly the biggest flaw in this grand finale was the storyline. The viewing experience was spoiled by the storytelling approach that contradicted all of what made the original series shine. Fans often felt misled by the numerous plot holes and the very elementary Macguffin-themed plot. The entirety of the movie felt like a wild goose chase, pushing to the side all the dynamics of Star Wars that made it so distinguishable in the past.

“The wasteful use of settings, doodads, characters, and space horses does not just exhaust the audience. It also undermines the most essential prerogative of Star Wars: world-building,” critic Spencer Kornhaber stated in The Atlantic.

All fans want to see Star Wars push boundaries, challenge the audience, and flourish with in-depth storylines that leave viewers thinking about theories for days on end. 

The unimaginative and tiresome tropes portrayed in this conclusion left audiences malnourished of all the flavorful world-building and storyline elements that made previous Star Wars productions so memorable. 

The film truthfully doesn’t offer anything new or terribly distinctive with the storyline that almost felt robotic and recycled. The Rise of Skywalker had 142 minutes to bring 42 years of storytelling to a close. There were so many things that could go wrong. 

And, unfortunately, they did.

As a movie, the film is watchable and even entertaining. But as the finale to this phenomenon that brought together little bright-eyed girls, hard-core cosplayers, and cheesy Star Wars dads, it was somewhat disappointing. 

“Personally, I’ve been a huge Star Wars fan since I was a kid,” said actor Jake Cannavale to Daily Beast, who played a supporting role in Disney’s Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian. “And I felt pretty let down by the overall laziness of this new trilogy, and also a bit angry at the entitlement of it for pretty much seizing control of the franchise as a whole by basically [saying], ‘Nah we don’t like the ending that everybody’s been cool with for decades, let’s change it!'”

Star Wars is undoubtedly a franchise that brought together all generations and bonded millions of people. The new trilogy managed to divide the masses and the latest of the trio has done just that. The fandom was divided yet again upon The Rise of Skywalker’s release.

While moviegoers cannot ignore the emotional impact of certain scenes, they are often distracted and questioning due to the whirling, flimsy storytelling. The negatives of the film unfortunately overwhelm the positives.

Star Wars means so much to me. Star Wars is a part of my life, a piece of my heart,” devotee Brenna Renfroe stated. “I remember watching the saga for the first time, over five years ago. I was enthralled and enraptured by the characters, the world building, the story, the lore, and how deep everything went. The Star Wars universe is huge and all encompassing. There are books, movies, video games, and tv shows. So much makes up the depth of this world.”

The new Star Wars trilogy in itself is almost like the raven-haired, torn antagonist Kylo Ren’s evolution of his mask. The Force Awakens was a strong and encouraging start, balancing all those flavorful elements of previous films while maintaining an entirely fresh taste. Like Kylo’s mask in the first film, it was a solid release.

The Last Jedi experienced an absolute shattering controversy and backlash that divided the fandom. It was a film fans either hated or loved. As similar to the fate of Kylo’s mask in the film, it was broken. 

The Rise of Skywalker turned out to be exactly similar to the portrayal of the mask in Episode IX. J.J. Abrams attempted to pick up the broken pieces from the controversy of director Rian Johnson and please everyone at once. In reality, the conclusion was still flawed and cracked.

“As a conclusion to this deep and beautiful saga that means so much to so many people, Rise of Skywalker broke my heart. It lacked great depth. It lacked powerful and moving story lines. It lacked world building and character building. These characters that I’ve grown to love didn’t get the proper treatment in my opinion,” Renfroe continued.

As the climax to 42 years of movies brimming with diverse and shimmering cities, endless fighter pilot dogfights, duels of fate on red-hot planets, and iconic lines like “I am your father,” The Rise of Skywalker proved to be a bit like a punch to the gut for diehard Skywalker fanatics. 

“While there was some good in it, I just don’t feel it was entirely worthy to be the conclusion of this great saga,” Renfroe agreed.