Saving Star Wars 

“How well did The Rise of Skywalker (2019) conclude the world’s most iconic saga?” 


With 2019’s release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the beloved three-time trilogy Star Wars (or Skywalker) film saga has finally come to an end. Critical reception has been mixed, the movie being rejected by critics while praised by most of the fanbase; nonetheless, even among fans, opinions are varied and the division is strong with the film series finale. 


The Rise of Skywalker follows protagonist Rey (Daisy Ridley), as well as both her new companions and series staple characters on an adventure to stop the recently resurrected galactic villain, Sheev Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), from resuming a previously held harsh imperial control of the galaxy. 


The first Star Wars film, A New Hope (1977), also known as Episode 4 or simply Star Wars, released to spectacular critical success; the majority of the film’s praise being directed towards the revolutionary technology employed by George Lucas and Industrial Light and Magic, as well as the classic score conducted by John Williams. The movie would spawn countless sequels and spinoffs that would eventually culminate in The Rise of Skywalker, and though the franchise is adored and incredibly successful (garnering billions through theater, home video and merchandise sales), it hasn’t exactly been the smoothest ride. 


After the first film’s release, both The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) would amaze audiences around the world, the former usually being considered the best in the series. After R.O.T.J, however, the series would go mostly quiet until the release of the prequel trilogy. The Phantom Menace would release in 1999 to disappointed groans in the theater and generally mediocre reviews (besides a surprisingly positive one from Roger Ebert). 


Upon looking back on the film, it wasn’t the horrid mess that some people had considered it to be at the turn of the century, though it struggled in its effort to hold up to its predecessors which were released decades prior; the humour wasn’t as witty, the special effects weren’t as convincing (contemporary CGI was still in a state of infancy), and the characters weren’t as developed or captivating. There was a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel, however. 


With The Phantom Menace would come two other sequential prequel films, Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) respectively. The former is ridiculed to this very day and is often placed alongside its prequel predecessor, though the third film was beloved by many fans and considered a good spot to end the series; yet that was back in 2005, before the franchise’s licensing was acquired by Disney. 


All of this context and brief history regarding Star Wars and everything that’s drawn from the name serves to solve the question at hand: Did the final film in the series bring everything to an appropriate close? 


It’s definitely hard to say, as reflected in the previously mentioned critical divide. 


A few cheesy television shows were created based on the Star Wars universe after the release of T.R.O.T.S., but once Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, the writing was on the wall, and the final trilogy was put into action. The three following films, including the latest one, have kept fans mostly split as some love the new cast and direction with the series while others despise it. 


I personally find myself in the middle, enjoying some of the films while ignoring others, yet after seeing the movie in the theater I can wholeheartedly say that it all depends on what one would consider to be a conclusive and/or fulfilling ending to a 43 year old saga. 


The entire thing was a spectacle, with some of the most breathtaking visuals put to the big screen; it is also supposedly the last film to ever feature an original score from Williams. There was plenty of fan service with multiple callbacks to previous entries in the franchise, making for plenty of moments that long time members of the Star Wars community will appreciate. 


The story itself, however, was nothing to call home about; it’s a sentiment shared by many, one that also reflects a common disdain for the different direction in which the final trilogy had found itself. 


So, as mentioned, it all comes down to perspective. I personally feel as though, while the final film in the Skywalker Saga was lacking in many aspects, it had some genuine love behind it that ended up making the whole thing awfully bittersweet. As per usual, I say go check it out for yourself and form your own opinions.