What’s Streaming? Rise of Skywalker


Image Credit: Forbes

Poster for the latest Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker.


The ninth installment in the main Star Wars film series found itself in a strange place after the overwhelmingly divided, and sometimes even hostile, reaction to The Last Jedi (2017).  The response was a course correction, helmed by the man who had reintroduced Star Wars to the world back in 2015 with The Force Awakens.  JJ Abrams was brought in to conclude the “Skywalker Saga,” in the hopes that he would bring balance back to the fanbase.  This, however, was not to be.  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has ended Disney’s sequel trilogy not with a bang, but with a resounding thud.

For a movie that begins with reviving a previously dead character, The Rise of Skywalker is surprisingly lifeless.  The movie moves along at an alarming pace, never giving a second for the audience, or even the characters, to consider what’s happening on anything deeper than the surface level (this, however, may be a blessing in disguise).  Despite the sheer quantity and speed at which things happen, those events are nothing more than plot.  The core characters that had been developing throughout the trilogy, Rey, Finn, and Poe, now lack any interesting or defining traits.  It’s hard to shake the feeling that the unseen hand of the script is guiding them on their journey, not character motivation.  They are forced into situations based on plot constrictions rather than taking action that would inform their character.

A puzzling inclusion in The Rise of Skywalker was the aforementioned decision to bring back a long dead character as the villain.  Emperor Palpatine, who was killed all the way back in 1983 in Return of the Jedi, is inexplicably here.  A throwaway line, that is also a reference to something he said in Revenge of the Sith, is all the audience is given to justify this major twist (or at least it’s a twist if you hadn’t seen the long form trailers).  Palpatine’s return ends up feeling lazy, unearned, and generally uninteresting.  What it felt like, and what it most likely was, was a response to not having a proper antagonist after the death of Supreme Leader Snoke in The Last Jedi.  Just as Disney has tried to will this plodding and unimportant trilogy back to life with the inclusion of a long dead character, Palpatine has miraculously made an underground army with such impressive scale that it’s clear that the writers were just overcompensating for a hollow story.

So many choices in The Rise of Skywalker are obviously pandering to those nostalgic about the franchise, from the inclusion of fan favorite characters with little to no justifications, to reversals of past reveals, to a finale twist that so poorly imitates one of Disney’s own (actually successful) blockbusters; The Rise of Skywalker is the definition of a movie created by committee.  It is remarkably boring for a film that includes so much, and, on many levels, it’s a disappointment.  

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available for streaming on Disney+ with a subscription, or purchase or rental through YouTube, GooglePlay, Amazon Prime Video or Vudu starting at $4.99.