Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Is Force-Deficient, But Action-Packed

Published on December 20, 2019

The final installment in what’s been colloquially termed as the “Skywalker Saga” is now playing in theaters. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker brings an end to the nine-film series that began in 1977, and of course, the late Carrie Fisher.

In this final episode, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has become a guardian of peace and justice since the events of The Last Jedi. Now, she finds herself leading a “resistance” against the forces of evil in an epic, last stand. 

Is It Worth My Time?

Watch It: If you enjoy fast-paced, action-packed films, you love the orchestral music from John Williams (this as his final Star Wars film), and you want to know how this nine-film series comes to a close. 

Skip It: If you prefer films that personally run at an average or slower pace, contain an inventive, original story, and films that keep away from fan service. 


The Rise of Skywalker plays like the rollercoasters found at Disneyland. Some experience loops and drops at high speeds, never to choose that ride again.

Others are back in line for round two before one can say, “May the Force Be With You.” Action, adventure, and lightsabers shine in this finale. 

Yet because Rise flies at light speed, we don’t have much time to breathe. We don’t sit enough with young Rey, or the confused Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), of whom we witness another excellent performance. Some have been on adventures with pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and rebel Finn (John Boyega) for three films. And yet there’s little sense as to to who these heroes are. It’s as if this roller coaster has been pretty fun, even though I had to sit by strangers each time.

Rise is nowhere near being anything rotten, however. It merely fails to be a great spectacle.

In terms of plot, the story progresses structurally, as it brings us into new events at times that we subconsciously anticipate. It follows formula, but formulas work for a reason, in contrast to some sort of experimental mess.

The problems seep in, however, as the film progresses, where it begins to feel that director J.J. Abrams, presumably, felt too much pressure and anxiety to please too many parties and squeeze in all too much. 

If you crave fan service, Rise has ample amounts of it. One may wonder as to how many scenes, in fact, wedge their way into this film. The desire for Abrams it seems was to somehow please everyone, producers and fans alike.

Yet Disney tasked him perhaps with too much. Another director initially signed on to direct this final episode, and Abrams had already directed a Star Wars film only four years ago. 

Tonally, Rise doesn’t quite stay consistent with whatever mood it’s trying to convey. In contrast to The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker plays fairly lighthearted with jokes throughout. Some humor works, and some falls flat.

At the same time, it yields a hoped-for emotional resonance, being the finale, which unfortunately also falls flat. Amidst all the glistening, chases, laughs, and endings, Rise feels all too muted. 


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gets a minor recommendation from me for viewers who are more familiar with the Star Wars universe.

There’s loads of action, a fine, improved, and committed performance from Daisy Ridley, and a simple story that works. Unfortunately, it’s the Force itself that somehow managed to go back to sleep. 

Score: 6.4/10 

David Zimmerman is a Contributor at Grit Daily. He is a Portland-based screenwriter, film columnist and the founder of Zimm Score Movie Guide. When he's not writing about the big screen, you can find him nerding out with other cinephiles at local PNW breweries and traveling the world with his wife.

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