Director: JJ Abrams
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy, JJ Abrams, Michelle Rejwan
Screenplay: JJ Abrams, Chris Terrio
Story: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, JJ Abrams, Chris Terrio
Music: John Williams
Starring: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o
Everything ends. This year, this decade ends with people walking into theaters to watch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and, therefore, the end of an era. With January, a new decade begins, and even though a lot of things continue in various ways — most of all, our day-to-day lives, I cannot ignore the fact that it feels like a new beginning. More so than in other years. This feeling has to do with other things that came to a close as well in the past months. We saw the finales of big franchises and universes. Maybe I read a bit too much into it, but the last week of the year always is a good excuse to get a bit melancholic and look back. Just not too much.
Not just Star Wars comes to a conclusion. The Infinity Saga wrapped up with Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. We also saw the final minutes of Game of Thrones, Fox’s X-Men Universe, as well as Gotham. The comic industry also lost some incredible series over the last 12 months: East of West, Unstoppable Wasp, Batman by Tom King, Star Wars, Giant Days, The Wicked + The Divine, and Paper Girls, to name a few. Some ended because the creators concluded the story; others were canceled.
The end of the decade and the end of things people loved for a long time coincide grandly. It tells a lot that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker should be the last finale we see. Since 1977, the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and the rest have inspired a lot of people, brought joy to numerous more, and without it, some other things might not exist as we know it. There might be more books, comics, and TV shows concerning this era of Star Wars, but now we know how it will all come together in the end.
It all can feel a bit overwhelming — like a burden. The Skywalker Saga concluded. The great family drama, which was inherited by Rey, Ben, Finn, and others, will not be continued. I think it is refreshing to let this movie breathe a bit. Let the story that unfolds within those 180+ minutes sink in, give people a chance for some re-watches, and flesh out the missing pieces in other media. Then we can enter a new era of Star Wars movies that focus on different worlds, species, and characters.
In that fashion, it also feels like a weight has been lifted. The necessity to make another movie regarding any of the original characters is gone. They have done their deeds and can rest now. Like Tony Stark, they can trust that the fate of the galaxy lies in good hands. As the trailer said: every generation has its legends, heroes, and villains.
But how exactly does The Skywalker Saga end?
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to go into a movie nowadays without one knowing anything about it. Especially if this movie comes from a big franchise and one uses the internet regularly. Rumors about Palpatine arose from different sides, not only the first trailer. Talks about cameos, characters, background stories, and so on make up a lot of content on various sites. I personally would prefer a more subtle approach to those things. Why do we need detailed information before we watched the movie?
I, for one, want to be surprised. I want to sit in the theater and gag, laugh, cry, and applaud. Sometimes all of those things at once. For example, some people were mad that Joss Whedon did not make Cap lift the hammer in Age of Ultron. But what if he did? Would we still have been captivated when he finally does yield Mijolnir in Endgame and fights Thanos with it? Would it have been as impactful if we knew this would happen? I think not. It would have undercut a moment, that was 10 years in the making.
The same case can be made with Star Wars. Give me one good trailer, and I am in. For as long as I can remember, I love Star Wars. Millions of people do. There was no chance in hell that anyone would miss Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
So, how was the final installment? I am not sure yet. In recent years I have become a bit calmer about my judgments of things. I need time and a re-watch or two. There happens to be a lot in this movie; I give you that. It is a dense, fast-paced movie from beginning to end. Technically, I have nothing to complain about. Real, hand-made action blends seamlessly with CGI. The actors live and breath their characters. John Williams, as always, delivers a nuanced soundtrack, and perfectly matches the story.
Sometimes, the editing feels a bit hectic and too fast, but this could get better with some more re-watches. They also included Carrie Fisher again, with a lot of CGI and scenes that were cut from the previous movies. It works most of the time, but sometimes, it looks weird. Not her persona, in particular, but her size and direction in relation to other characters. You can tell that something is off.
But other than that, all elements come together and deliver a solid new installment in the Star Wars Saga. However, those are just the technical aspects of the movie. What about the story?
Rian Johnson tried something different with The Last Jedi, and I personally love that movie. I would have appreciated if they had gone bonkers with that direction: no more fan-service, but original ideas — Star Wars as we have never seen it before. But then I realized: this entire trilogy is about fan-service. And there is nothing wrong with that.
JJ Abrams and his team do not go against Johnson’s ideas and inputs, but they guide the story in a different direction. We get some exciting reveals, conflicts, and images in those 180+ minutes of Star Wars. Past ideas come in new clothing, and we get something similar to “the best of Star Wars.” It works fine as a finale, and if you have anything to do with Star Wars, you should watch it. I recommend this movie.
There are some things that I would have appreciated, though. For one, they could have tightened the movie a bit. The end, in particular, feels 10-15 minutes too long. But then again, sometimes it is hard to let go — literally. However, before you take on an opinion or make up your mind about it, think about the things you saw, how they connect to previous films, and how JJ Abrams builds on a nostalgic feeling. Again, not a critique, just an observation. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of an era and the beginning of something new. I am excited to see new stories unfold in this vibrant and vast universe.
Obviously, there are a lot more things to say about this movie. But I don’t want to spoil anything at this point. Just keep in mind that, no matter if you like this finale or not, no one destroys your childhood with this. Don’t hate on the people who created it. JJ Abrams and his team had one of the most challenging jobs: Bring a 42-year-old story to an end. Millions of people have their own opinion about the ending. I am grateful for the way it ended and that we even got a finale in this new trilogy in the first place. It is classic Star Wars in a lot of ways.
So The Skywalker Saga has come to an end, long live Star Wars.
May the force be with you, always.