Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker | A Spoiler-free Review
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
Director: J. J. Abrams, 2019
Review by Tim Gunn
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker is not exactly the worst movie in the Star Wars franchise, but it might be the most unnecessary and underwhelming entry given the stated ambitions of its creators and overseers as well as wide-ranging fan expectations. If you are a casual Star Wars fan or moviegoer, much of this film may seem incomprehensible, especially the last 45 minutes or so. Even if you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan, you’re likely going to end up having some dead-end, shrug-filled conversations afterwards, whether live or online, with fellow disciples of the far away galaxy of yore. For parents concerned about any objectionable content, there are a couple of moments that are “scary,” but not above the level of similar moments seen in prior films, such as Revenge of the Sith.
Without spoiling anything not already shown in the marketing leading up to this film, the Emperor has (somehow) returned and is ready to anoint a successor to run the Empire-slash-First Order. Will it be Kylo? Will it be Rey? Meanwhile it’s up to General Leia and the remnants of the Resistance to stop a massive fleet of Planet-Killing Starships from taking over the galaxy. Saying anything more than that would probably be considered “spoiling the movie” to die-hard fans, and probably also wouldn’t help you understand the movie any better.
What Did They Get Right?
What Did They Get Wrong?
Look, I wanted to like this movie. I was excited to see this film and have felt every minute of the wait for this final chapter since Solo came out a year and a half ago. I was eager to see what JJ Abrams and his crew would come up with as his follow up to the earnest and enjoyable Force Awakens. I had high but cautious hopes for this movie. And I was right there with it for the first hour or so. But when it went off the rails it never really got back on. In the end, I was hoping this film would justify, beyond reasons of capitalism, its existence in the hallowed “canon.” I am not sure it does. That’s not a good thing.
There is no bad language. There are no scenes with sexual activity nor nudity. Most of the violence is bloodless. There are a couple of scenes that might be too scary for kids under six to seven years of age. There is a scene involving quicksand and a large menacing serpent. The Emperor is presented throughout as something out of a horror film in the vein of a Dracula or Frankenstein. Rey has a scene where she has a scary vision, and one of the villains snaps at her menacingly. That’s really about it. The more difficult thing with regards to kids will be whether they get bored or overwhelmed towards the end, or if they have so many questions that you’ll find yourself at a loss to explain things during the movie or after the fact to them in a satisfactory way.
My Updated Ranking for all of the Star Wars Movies To Date
Empire Strikes Back (V) [A+]
A New Hope (IV) [A]
The Last Jedi (VIII) [A-]
Return of the Jedi (VI) [B+]
Revenge of the Sith (III) [B+]
Rogue One (Standalone) [B+]
The Force Awakens (VII) [B]
The Phantom Menace (I) [C+]
Attack of the Clones (II) [C]
Rise of Skywalker (IX) [C-]
Solo (Standalone) [C-]
Look, I get it. If there are any die-hard fans out there who see the movie (because let’s face it, you’re going to see this movie regardless of what I have to say about it, and you should) and end up loving it, if it checks off enough boxes for you, then great! And even though I was not blown away on first viewing, I know I will see this movie a few more times in the theaters, and over and over when it shows up on Disney Plus. I promise I will try to search my feelings and let some of the film’s ambitions sink in a bit. But for me, sadly, the Force was just not that strong with this one.