Review: Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

I unexpectedly was given two passes to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker back when it came out. My company uses XPO Logistics to ship freight and they offered us four passes to a special premiere screening. Two of the passes fell to me and I took my youngest son (who is 12) last night to see the end of an era. We received the VIP treatment including free popcorn, drink, and Star Wars Pez dispenser.

If you are a fan like me, it’s been strange to think about never seeing Star Wars characters like Luke, Leia, and Han again on the big screen. They were larger than life for us children of the ’70s and ’80s. And while it was great to see them reprise their roles nearly 40 years after their debut, the characters seem to even transcend the films themselves as people we know perhaps more than even some of our own family members.

Going into the film, I really had no expectations. I mostly had questions after watching the trailers and clips. First and foremost, who is this Skywalker that will rise? How in the world is Emperor Palpatine still alive? How will they send off Princess Leia? Will we find out who Rey’s parents are? What was Snoke’s back story? Will we see Luke as a force ghost? Will we see characters and visit planets from the original trilogy? Let me just say that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker answered almost all of my questions.

After my first viewing, I did like the film’s story and overall experience more than The Last Jedi, but slightly less than The Force Awakens. The Star Wars formula of film-making was definitely present. There is plenty of fan service in The Rise of Skywalker, dare I say even too much in the finale. I believe that’s why most film critics have been harsh because the nods to the fans are louder than the story itself at times. I even found myself saying “Really?” a couple of times when watching the film, but I get it. This is the end of the saga and you need to pay your respects to the fans more than gaining critical acclaim.

This is Star Wars and The Rise of Skywalker pushes all the buttons we’ve come to love and expect. The special effects were incredible. Every scene and planet visited were a glorious backdrop in the Star Wars universe. The new characters were likable and even loveable (Babu Frik may give The Child aka Baby Yoda a run for his money.) Some canon was even brought to light that has never been in the films before. And while I had some nitpicks throughout, I think the film should not be a disappointment to any true Star Wars fan.

As far as the main characters, here are my thoughts:

  • Rey – She embodies a Star Wars hero perfectly, even better than the previous films.
  • Kylo Ren – I understand his story, but wanted even more for his character.
  • Poe – One of my favorite characters in the movie. His interaction with Zorii Bliss was great.
  • Finn – His path seemed convenient but overall I enjoyed him.
  • Chewie – Always consistent. Always loveable.
  • C-3PO – Some genuine LOL moments as only he can deliver.
  • Emperor – Just don’t feel like he was right for the movie. Still not sure why it was necessary to bring him back other than giving fans a familiar face.

I’ll reserve my thoughts on the other characters and plot points to avoid spoilers. I am planning to see it a second time in the theater to make sure I didn’t miss any details and hopefully view the film in IMAX.

So overall, I would recommend seeing The Rise of Skywalker for the theater experience that only Star Wars can give. I definitely enjoyed the characters and the 40+ year legacy that the film brings to the fans. I’m not sure it was the strongest story to end the saga, but as someone who came in with no expectations, I can accept it.

About Jason Gross 10 Articles
'80s Kid. '90s Grad. '00s Dad. Favorite films include Ghostbusters, Christmas Vacation, Back to the Future, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, James Bond (Roger Moore era), the original Star Wars trilogy, Rounders, Boiler Room, Shawshank Redemption, and The Usual Suspects.