"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" opened in theaters Dec. 20. (Lucasfilm Ltd.)
Orange County School of the Arts

Opinion: ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is an unsatisfying end to the 40-year-old saga

Since 1977, when the first film came out, the Star Wars franchise has held a special place in the hearts of many fans. The universe has been continuously expanding over the years, with the addition of the prequel and sequel trilogies, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels” animated TV shows, “The Mandalorian,” and more.

The final installment of the Skywalker saga “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is a fast-paced, exciting, but weak ending to the overall storyline. While it closes off the sequel trilogy nicely, it opens up plot holes and more questions than answers for the Skywalker saga as a whole.

Editor’s note: spoilers ahead

Rey and Kylo Ren star in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (Image courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The gigantic problem of this movie is the lack of Anakin Skywalker. The entire saga is supposed to be about Anakin, his redemption, and how he fulfilled the prophecy of the Chosen One. Now, fans are left with questions about the gaping plot holes that JJ Abrams left behind.

Is Rey the Chosen One now? But then, how does that fit in with how Anakin was confirmed to be the Chosen One in the prequels, the ‘Clone Wars’ TV show, and George Lucas himself?

You can’t bring back Palpatine and not Anakin. The prophecy clearly states that the Chosen One (aka Anakin) will bring balance to the Force and destroy the Sith. In “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”, Rey is the one who delivers the final death blow to Palpatine, making her the one who destroys the Sith and fulfills the prophecy.

While Anakin does appear as a voice in a few lines when the Jedi speak to Rey, what most fans really wanted was to see him in the flesh or at least as a Force ghost. It would’ve been amazing to see Anakin talk to Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (who basically worshipped him) and re-confront the powerful emperor.

Palpatine’s death also felt a little too convenient. Towards the end of the film, Rey rises after the Jedi speak to her and reflects Palpatine’s Force lightning with a lightsaber, which kills him. This has already happened to Palpatine in “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” when Mace Windu reflects the lightning against Palpatine and causes him to become deformed. I, personally, think a master Sith Lord who once controlled the entire galaxy would learn from his past mistakes and not be defeated so easily by a girl with little training.

Mace Windu reflects Palpatine’s Force lightning in “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” (Image courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.)

This film also raises questions about what Force ghosts can and cannot do. In “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” Obi-Wan Kenobi appears as a Force ghost to Luke Skywalker. When Luke asks for assistance in facing Darth Vader, Obi-Wan replies by saying he “cannot interfere.” However, in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” Luke appears as a Force ghost to Rey and very clearly catches the Skywalker lightsaber when Rey throws it into Kylo Ren’s flaming TIE fighter. If Obi-Wan couldn’t interfere, then why can Luke suddenly hold tangible objects? If this is possible, then why can’t all the past Jedi Force ghosts just face off Palpatine on their own?

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” isn’t entirely bad. It definitely was both exciting and emotional, with little to no dull moments. Ben Solo’s redemption was brilliant, and I even shed a few tears when Han Solo appeared to Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and helped him to turn back to the light side. Palpatine’s moments (except for his death) were also amazing, and I got chills watching him with all of the past Sith Lords chanting behind him. Both Palpatine and Ben were the highlights of this movie, and I really wish we got more of them rather than Rey and the other (in my opinion) more dull characters.

Despite the bumps in the road, I am still excited to see what Disney can do with “Star Wars” now that they’re finished with the Skywalker saga and can finally move on to new characters and new storylines. With “The Mandalorian” just finished and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” season 7 and the Obi-Wan Kenobi series coming out on Disney+ shortly, I am still holding onto hope that Disney and Lucasfilm can start making content like the movies I watched from my childhood.

Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, and Obi-Wan Kenobi Force ghosts in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi”. (Lucasfilm Ltd.)