The Rise of Skywalker
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The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJ. J. Abrams
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Based onCharacters
by George Lucas
Starring
Music byJohn Williams
CinematographyDan Mindel[1]
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • December 16, 2019 (2019-12-16) (Hollywood)
  • December 20, 2019 (2019-12-20) (United States)
Running time
142 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$275 million[3]
Box office$1.074 billion[4][5]

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (also known as Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker) is a 2019 American epic space opera film produced, , and directed by J. J. Abrams. It is the third installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), and the final episode of the nine-part "Skywalker saga".[a] It was produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams' production company Bad Robot Productions and was distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film's ensemble cast includes Carrie Fisher,[b]Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong'o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, and Billy Dee Williams.

The Rise of Skywalker follows Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron as they lead the Resistance's final stand against Supreme Leader Kylo Ren and the First Order, who are now aided by the return of the deceased galactic emperor, Palpatine. Following initial reports that The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson would write the script for Episode IX, in August 2015, Colin Trevorrow was hired to direct and to write a script with his collaborator Derek Connolly; both ultimately retain story credit with Abrams and Chris Terrio. In September 2017, Trevorrow left the project following creative differences with producer Kathleen Kennedy, and Abrams returned as director. John Williams, composer for the previous episodic films, returned to compose the score-his final score for the franchise. Principal photography began in August 2018 at Pinewood Studios in England and wrapped in February 2019. Post-production was completed on November 24, 2019. With an estimated budget of $275 million, it is one of the most expensive films ever made.

The film had its world premiere in Los Angeles on December 16, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on December 20, 2019. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the acting, action sequences, musical score, and visual effects, but criticized the story, pacing and its perceived departures from the plot and themes of The Last Jedi. It grossed over $1.074 billion worldwide, becoming the seventh-highest-grossing film of 2019; although it was the lowest-grossing installment of the trilogy, it still turned a profit of $300 million. The film received three nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards (Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Editing) as well as three at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards (also Best Special Visual Effects, Best Original Music, and Best Sound).

Plot

Following a threat of revenge by the revived Emperor Palpatine, Kylo Ren obtains a Sith Wayfinder, leading him to the uncharted planet Exegol. There, he finds Palpatine, who reveals that he created Snoke as a puppet to control the First Order and lure Kylo to the dark side. Palpatine unveils the Final Order--a secret armada of Star Destroyers--and tells Kylo to find and kill Rey, who is continuing her Jedi training under Resistance leader Leia Organa. Finn and Poe Dameron deliver intelligence from a spy that Palpatine is on Exegol; Rey has learned from Luke Skywalker's notes that a Sith Wayfinder can lead them there. Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, , and depart in the Millennium Falcon to Pasaana, where a clue to a Wayfinder is hidden.

Kylo initiates a Force bond with Rey to discover her location; he travels to Pasaana with his warrior subordinates, the Knights of Ren. With the help of Lando Calrissian, Rey and her friends find the clue--a dagger inscribed with Sith text, which programming forbids him from interpreting--and the remains of a Jedi hunter named Ochi and his ship. Sensing that Kylo is nearby, Rey goes to confront him. The First Order captures the Falcon, Chewbacca, and the dagger; attempting to save Chewbacca, Rey accidentally destroys a First Order transport with Force lightning. Believing Chewbacca to be dead, the group escapes on Ochi's ship.

The group travels to Kijimi, where a droidsmith extracts the Sith text from memory, revealing coordinates to a Wayfinder. Rey senses Chewbacca is alive, and the group mounts a rescue mission to Kylo's Star Destroyer. Rey recovers the dagger and has visions of Ochi killing her parents with it. Kylo informs her that she is Palpatine's granddaughter; the Sith Lord had ordered Ochi to recover Rey as a child, but her parents hid her on Jakku to protect her. General Hux saves Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca from execution, revealing himself as the spy. He permits the group to escape on the Falcon, but is discovered and killed by Allegiant General Pryde. The group flies the Falcon to the Wayfinder's coordinates on a moon in the Endor system.

Rey retrieves the Wayfinder from the remains of the second Death Star, but she is met by Kylo, who destroys the Wayfinder and duels her. In a dying act, Leia calls to Kylo through the Force, distracting him as Rey impales him with his own lightsaber. Sensing Leia's death and realizing what she has done, Rey heals Kylo before taking his ship to flee to Ahch-To. There, Luke's Force spirit encourages Rey to face Palpatine and gives her Leia's lightsaber. Rey leaves for Exegol in Luke's X-wing fighter, using the Wayfinder from Kylo's ship. Meanwhile, Kylo converses with a memory of his father, Han Solo; he throws away his lightsaber and reclaims his identity as Ben Solo. Sensing Leia's death and Ben's redemption, Palpatine sends one of his superlaser-equipped Star Destroyers to destroy Kijimi as a show of force. The Resistance, led by Poe and Finn, prepare to attack Palpatine's armada.

Rey transmits her coordinates to R2-D2, allowing the Resistance to follow her to Exegol. There, she confronts Palpatine; he demands that she kill him for his spirit to pass into her. Lando brings reinforcements from across the galaxy to join the battle. Ben kills all the Knights of Ren with his grandfather's lightsaber and joins Rey, but Palpatine drains their power to rejuvenate himself. He attacks the Resistance fleet with Force lightning and incapacitates Ben. Weakened, Rey hears the voices of many past Jedi, who lend her their strength. Palpatine attacks her with lightning, but Rey reflects it back onto him using Luke and Leia's lightsabers,[c] disintegrating Palpatine and dies from the effort. Ben uses the Force to revive her at the cost of his own life; Ben dies and his body vanishes as he joins his family. The Resistance defeats Palpatine's armada, while people across the galaxy rise up against the First Order. The Resistance returns to their base to celebrate.

After the celebration, Rey visits Luke's abandoned childhood home on Tatooine and buries his and Leia lightsabers, having built her own yellow lightsaber from parts of her staff. A passerby asks her name; as the spirits of Luke and Leia watch, she replies, "Rey Skywalker."

Cast

Billie Lourd, Greg Grunberg, and Harrison Ford reprise their roles as Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix,[28][d]Temmin "Snap" Wexley,[29] and Han Solo,[30] respectively; Ford was uncredited for his role. Additionally, Dominic Monaghan portrays Resistance trooper Beaumont Kin, and Shirley Henderson voices Babu Frik in multiple languages.[31][32] Hassan Taj and Lee Towersey perform the role of R2-D2 replacing Jimmy Vee, who had played the role in the previous two films.[33]Dave Chapman and Brian Herring return as the puppeteers of BB-8.[34] Director J. J. Abrams also provides the voice for D-O.[35]Nick Kellington returns as the creature performance of Klaud. Martin Wilde, Anton Simpson-Tidy, Lukaz Leong, Tom Rodgers, Joe Kennard, and Ashley Beck appear as the Knights of Ren. Amanda Lawrence reprises her role as Commander Larma D'Acy, while Vinette Robinson plays her wife, Pilot Wrobie Tyce. Amir El-Masry appears as Commander Trach.

Jodie Comer and Billy Howle briefly appear as Rey's mother and father, respectively.[35]Mike Quinn and Kipsang Rotich return as the performer and voice of Nien Nunb, respectively. Denis Lawson and Warwick Davis briefly reprise their roles as Wedge Antilles, a veteran of the Rebel Alliance; and Wicket W. Warrick, the leader of the Ewoks, respectively.[32][35] Tom Wilton and screenwriter Chris Terrio briefly appear as the performer and voice for Aftab Ackbar, the son of Admiral Ackbar, respectively.[32] Composer John Williams cameos as Oma Tres, a Kijimi bartender, Kevin Smith cameos as a Kijimi inhabitant, and Abrams' frequent composer collaborator Michael Giacchino cameos as a Sith Trooper, while Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeff Garlin both cameo as human and alien Resistance troopers, respectively.[35][36][37] Actors making reprisal vocal cameos include: James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, Andy Serkis as Snoke, and the voices of several past Jedi, including Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi (the latter via digitally altered archive audio), Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano, Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan Jarrus, Olivia d'Abo as Luminara Unduli, Frank Oz as Yoda, Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn, Jennifer Hale as Aayla Secura, Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, and Angelique Perrin as Adi Gallia.[32]Ed Sheeran, Karl Urban, Dhani Harrison, Nigel Godrich, J. D. Dillard, and Dave Hearn all cameo as stormtroopers.[32][38]

Additional Voices provided by David Acord, Dan Adler, Dee Bradley Baker, Verona Blue, Steve Blum, Dave Boat, David Collins (FN-2802), Jonathan Dixon, Terri Douglas, Robin Atkin Downes, Amanda Foreman, Janina Gavankar, Grey Griffin, Stefan Grube, Bobby Hall, Mike Holland, Karen Huie, Tom Kane, Lex Lang, Vanessa Lengies, Yuri Lowenthal, Vanessa Marshall, Donald Mustard, Nicole Nasca, Michelle Rejwan, Julian Stone, Tara Strong, Fred Tatasciore, James Arnold Taylor, Jessica Tuck, Karl Urban, Reggie Watts (Lando Calrissian (Disguise)), Debra Wilson, Sam Witwer, and Matthew Wood.

Production

Development

J. J. Abrams returned to direct the final film.

In October 2012, Star Wars creator George Lucas sold his production company Lucasfilm, and with it the Star Wars franchise, to The Walt Disney Company.[39] Disney subsequently announced the Star Wars sequel trilogy.[40] In June 2014, it was announced that Rian Johnson, writer and director of The Last Jedi, would write a story treatment for Episode IX.[41] In August 2015, Colin Trevorrow was announced as the director of the film;[42] he was to write the script with frequent collaborator Derek Connolly.[42][43] In April 2017, Johnson stated that he was not involved in writing the film.[44] In February 2016, Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger confirmed that pre-production on Episode IX had begun.[45]Carrie Fisher died in December 2016. Her brother Todd later said, "She was going to be the big payoff in the final film. She was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak."[46]

In late April 2017, Disney announced that the film would be released on May 24, 2019.[47] A month later, filming was expected to begin in January 2018,[48] but this was later pushed back to August. In August 2017, it was announced that Jack Thorne would rewrite the script.[49] On September 5, 2017, Lucasfilm stated that Trevorrow had left the production following creative differences.[50]The Hollywood Reporter reported that his working relationship with Kathleen Kennedy had become unmanageable after failing to deliver a satisfactory script, despite writing several drafts.[51] Johnson was rumored as the top choice to replace Trevorrow as director,[52] but stated "it was never in the plan for me to direct Episode IX."[53] The next day, it was announced that J. J. Abrams, the director of The Force Awakens, would return to direct the film,[54] and that the film's release date would be moved to December 20, 2019.[55] The story team met with George Lucas before writing the new script,[56] which Abrams with Chris Terrio,[57] while Trevorrow and Connolly retained story credits.[58][59][f] The story was rewritten to some extent before filming was completed.[62] The film was produced by Abrams' company Bad Robot Productions, Kathleen Kennedy, and Michelle Rejwan.[57]

Before filming, Episode IX was initially given the working title Black Diamond, which was then changed to TrIXie in 2018,[63] most likely to insert the roman numeral "IX" within the working title.[64] The title, The Rise of Skywalker, was announced at April 2019's Star Wars Celebration in Chicago.[65]

Casting

Billy Dee Williams (left) and Ian McDiarmid (right) returned as Lando Calrissian and Emperor Palpatine, onscreen for the first time since Return of the Jedi (1983) and Revenge of the Sith (2005), respectively.[23][27]

Carrie Fisher, who played Leia Organa, died on December 27, 2016. Variety and Reuters reported that she had been planned for a key role in Episode IX.[66] In January 2017, Lucasfilm stated that there were no plans to digitally generate Fisher's performance as they had for Rogue One (2016).[67] The following April, Fisher's brother Todd revealed that Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, had granted Disney the rights to use recent footage of Fisher.[68] However, a week later, Kathleen Kennedy stated that Fisher would not appear in the film.[69][70] In July 2018, J. J. Abrams announced that unused footage of Fisher from The Force Awakens would be used to help complete the story.[7][8][71][g] In flashback scenes, digital de-aging was used for the appearance of Luke and Leia through the use of facial shots of both characters from the Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi respectively.[72]

In July 2018, Keri Russell was in talks to play a part with some "action-heavy fight scenes",[73] and it was confirmed that Billy Dee Williams would return as Lando Calrissian,[74] onscreen for the first time since 1983's Return of the Jedi--marking one of the longest intervals between portrayals of a character by the same actor in American film history.[27][h] At the end of July, Russell was confirmed to have been cast,[75] and there was an announcement of returning and additional new cast members.[1] In late August, Deadline Hollywood announced that Dominic Monaghan and Matt Smith had been cast in unspecified roles,[76][77] but Smith later denied his involvement.[78][i] Greg Grunberg reprises his role as Temmin "Snap" Wexley.[29] Jimmy Vee stated on Twitter that he would be reprising the role of R2-D2, but in the final film the droid was credited to Hassan Taj and Lee Towersey.[81][33]Brian Herring returns to puppeteer .[82]

At Star Wars Celebration in April 2019, it was revealed via the film's teaser trailer that Ian McDiarmid would return to portray Palpatine.[23] Since the event was held after principal photography wrapped, Abrams was thrilled that news of McDiarmid on the set never leaked.[83] Kathleen Kennedy said they decided to reveal Palpatine's return ahead of the film's release because "many of the characters that are playing a significant role in the story, the fans know. They don't know how this story is going to unfold, but they know who they are. It's not like Baby Yoda," the surprise popular character from The Mandalorian.[84]

Filming

Principal photography began on August 1, 2018, at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England.[1] Filming also took place in Wadi Rum, Jordan.[85] Oscar Isaac stated that Abrams was allowing more improvized acting than in the previous two films.[86] Due to the tight schedule, some editing took place on set.[87] Principal photography wrapped on February 15, 2019.[88] Footage from the film was shown at The Walt Disney Company's annual shareholders meeting on March 7, 2019.[89] Two weeks of reshoots took place in London involving Hamill, Ridley and Isaac in July 2019.[90] Another round of reshoots took place at Bad Robot Productions between late September and mid-October.[91]

Post-production

The visual effects were created by Industrial Light & Magic and supervised by Roger Guyett.[92] The film finished post-production on November 25, 2019. After Boyega accidentally left a copy of the script in his hotel room, it was listed on eBay for around £65. A Disney employee identified the script as authentic and purchased it from the seller for an undisclosed sum.[93][94][95]

Music

On January 10, 2018, it was confirmed that John Williams would return to compose and conduct The Rise of Skywalker.[96][97] The next month, Williams announced that it would be the last Star Wars film for which he would compose the score.[98] In August 2019, it was revealed that Williams had written about 35 of an expected 135 minutes of music for the film, which according to Williams' brother Don, would incorporate all of the major themes of the Skywalker saga.[99] Scoring began in July 2019 with Williams and William Ross conducting and orchestrating the sessions over the course of six months.[100]Walt Disney Records released the soundtrack album digitally on December 18, 2019, with a physical release following on December 20.[101]

Marketing

Advertising for the film on display at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

Despite staying silent about many details of the film, Abrams expressed his hopes that fans and general audiences would be "satisfied".[102] He headed a panel dedicated to the film on April 12, 2019, during Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, Illinois,[103] where the film's title was revealed via the first trailer, and new images were shown.[65] The trailer was viewed 111 million times in the first 24 hours of its release, which was 20 million more views than the teaser for The Last Jedi and more than double that of The Force Awakens.[104]

Additionally, the story events of the Disneyland themed area Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge precede the film, including the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run motion simulator, which features Chewbacca.[105] On August 24, a new poster and "sizzle reel" was released at D23;[22] the latter was released to the public two days later. The footage includes a montage of the Skywalker saga so far, as well as several new shots from the film.[106] The final trailer was released on October 21, 2019 during Monday Night Football.[107]

A free level based on the film, was released for the videogame Star Wars Battlefront II (2017). In December 2019, the video game Fortnite Battle Royale released several cosmetics featuring character skins for Rey, Finn, a Sith Trooper, Kylo Ren, and Zorii Bliss along with a TIE Fighter glider, a Millennium Falcon glider (which was given to players for free from the Winterfest Event), four emotes, and two free banners.[108] On December 14, Fortnite publisher Epic Games released a preview of the film on an in-game theater screen as a live event.[109] At the end of the event, a message from Palpatine (the one mentioned in the film's opening crawl) was heard.[110] To coincide with the release of the film, a trailer for the forthcoming video game, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was released on the same day.[111]

Release

The film was originally planned to be released on May 24, 2019, in the United States before being pushed back to December 20, giving the original release date to Disney's live-action adaptation of Aladdin (2019).[47][55] It had its world premiere in Los Angeles on December 16.[112] Unlike most studio films, Disney reportedly did not hold test screenings for The Rise of Skywalker, instead only showing it to Abrams' friends and family, as well as a terminally ill fan.[113][114]

A shot near the end of the film, featuring two female Resistance members kissing, was cut in Dubai and Singapore.[115][116]

In the Philippines, it had a limited edition early release on December 20-22, 2019 before having a wide theatrical release on January 8, 2020.

Before the film's release, Disney issued a warning that the scenes with strobe-like flashing lights may trigger photosensitive migraines and seizures during some of those scenes.[117]

Home media

The Rise of Skywalker was scheduled to be released on Digital HD on March 17, 2020, but was released four days early in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.[118] Its DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD release was followed on March 31 by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.[119] The 4K version of the film was also released in "The Skywalker Saga" Ultra HD Blu-ray box set on March 31, 2020. It was released on Disney+ on May 4, 2020, which is reportedly two months ahead of its previously scheduled release date.[120]

Tie-in literature and merchandise

A publishing campaign titled "Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" was announced on May 4, 2019 (Star Wars Day). It includes the novel Resistance Reborn, set between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, and various other titles.[121] From December 18, 2019 to March 11, 2020, a prequel graphic novel titled The Rise of Kylo Ren, telling the story of how Ben Solo became Kylo Ren and elaborating upon the character's backstory, was published by Marvel Comics, written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Will Sliney.[122]

The official novelization of The Rise of Skywalker is by Rae Carson: hardcover and audiobook versions were released on March 19, 2020. The novel details Palpatine's return in more depth: he transferred his consciousness into a clone body following his death in Return of the Jedi, and his "son", Rey's father, was a failed clone of Palpatine.[123][124] The junior novel and corresponding audiobook are by Michael Kogge and was released on April 21, 2020. Additionally, a five-issue Marvel Comics adaptation written by Jody Houser and illustrated by Will Sliney was originally planned to debut in mid-2020,[125][126] but this was later cancelled, making the film the first in the franchise not to receive a comic adaptation.[127]

Reception

Box office

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker grossed $515.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $558.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $1.074 billion.[4][5]Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $300million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues.[128]

Pre-sale tickets went on sale on October 21, 2019 and the film sold more tickets in their first hour of availability on Atom Tickets than the previous record-holder for ticket sales, Avengers: Endgame (2019). It became Atom Tickets' second-best first-day seller of all time behind Endgame, selling more than twice the number of tickets as The Last Jedi sold in that same timeframe, while Fandango reported it outsold all previous Star Wars films.[107][129] Box office tracking had The Rise of Skywalker grossing around $205 million in its opening weekend, though some firms predicted a debut closer to $175 million.[130] The film made $89.6 million on its first day, including $40 million from Thursday night previews, the sixth-highest opening day of all time.[131][132] It went on to debut to $177.4 million, which was the third-highest opening ever for a December release and the 12th-best of all time, and it was also noted that Saturday (which saw a 47% drop from Friday's gross) was the busiest shopping day of the year, likely affecting ticket sales.[133][134][135] However, Deadline Hollywood did write that "we can't ignore" the less than stellar audience exit scores, which could affect the film's legs moving forward.[133] The film made $32 million on Christmas Day, the second-best total ever for the holiday after The Force Awakens $49.3 million in 2015.[136] It went on to have a five-day total of $135.2 million, including $72.4 million for the weekend.[137][138][139] In its third weekend the film made $34.5 million, remaining in first,[140][141] before being dethroned in its fourth weekend by newcomer 1917 (2019).[142]

Worldwide the film was projected to gross around $450 million in its opening weekend, including $250 million from 52 international territories.[143] It made $59.1 million from its first day of international release in 46 countries. The biggest markets were the United Kingdom ($8.3 million), Germany ($7.2 million), France ($5.3 million), and Australia ($4.3 million).[144] In China the film made $1.6 million (RMB11.6 million) through its first day.[145] It went on to open to $198 million from overseas countries and $373.5 million worldwide, coming in below projections and 47% lower than The Last Jedis total. Its biggest opening totals remained the UK ($26.8 million), Germany ($21.8 million), France ($15.2 million), Japan ($14.6 million), Australia ($12.6 million), and China ($12.1 million).[144]

Critical response

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 51% based on 495 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. As of January 19, 2020, the film was the lowest-rated live-action film of the Star Wars series;[146] the website's critics consensus reads: "The Rise of Skywalker suffers from a frustrating lack of imagination, but concludes this beloved saga with fan-focused devotion."[147] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on 61 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[148]

Richard Roeper, reviewing for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film three out of four stars, writing that it "rarely comes close to touching greatness, but it's a solid, visually dazzling and warmhearted victory [for] quality filmmaking."[149]The A.V. Clubs A. A. Dowd gave the film a C+, stating that the film "is so freighted with obligation that it almost groans under the weight, flashing a weak smile as it vaguely approximates the appearance of a zippy good time."[150]The Hollywood Reporters Todd McCarthy wrote, "A plot like this, featuring so many characters, locations and story dynamics, can by nature be confusing; so relentless is the pileup of incident that, at a certain point, one can be excused for checking out on the particulars ... in favor of just going along for the amusement park ride."[151]Michael Phillips for Chicago Tribune wrote that the film "does the job. It wraps up the trio of trilogies begun in 1977 in a confident, soothingly predictable way, doing all that is cinematically possible to avoid [upsetting the] tradition-minded quadrants of the Star Wars fan base."[152]Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "For about 75% of its running time, The Rise of Skywalker is a disappointment. Still, for all the movie's faults, it's likely that most people will consider The Rise of Skywalker and accept the trade: Sit through a so-so 110 minutes to get to a strong half hour."[153]

Owen Gleiberman of Variety called the film "the most elegant, emotionally rounded, and gratifying Star Wars adventure since the glory days of Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980) ... but given the last eight films, the bar isn't that high."[154] The BBC's Nicholas Barber wrote that "the film is well acted, [and] looks so good that there is bound to be a fabulous tie-in coffee-table book of concept art, and it has a positive message about never giving up hope. But the main feeling it instills in the viewer is a renewed respect for the imagination of Lucas. The Rise of Skywalker has been lovingly crafted by a host of talented people, and yet the best they can do is pay tribute to everything he did several decades ago."[155]

Scott Mendelson for Forbes described the film as "possibly worse than any prior Star Wars 'episode'. It ends a legendary franchise with a thud while denying this new trilogy its artistic reason for existence." He said that "the 142-minute movie spends almost its entire running time retconning its predecessor and adding painfully conventional 'plot twists' and patronizing reversals in the name of mollifying the fans who merely want to be reminded of the first three movies."[156]

Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "nakedly offers itself up in the spirit of a Last Jedi corrective, a return to storytelling basics, a nearly 2½-hour compendium of everything that made you fall in love with Star Wars in the first place. The more accurate way to describe it ... is as an epic failure of nerve. This Rise feels more like a retreat, a return to a zone of emotional and thematic safety from a filmmaker with a gift for packaging nostalgia as subversion."[157] Writing for The New Yorker, Richard Brody states that the film's faults "are those of the franchise over all, distilled and magnified because the film's director, J. J. Abrams is mainly a distiller and a magnifier and brings virtually no originality to it. His earnest and righteously grandiose direction evokes, as few movies do, a craving for Michael Bay at the controls."[158]

Whereas Asian actress Kelly Marie Tran had around ten minutes of screen-time in The Last Jedi, she appears for about a minute in The Rise of Skywalker. The reduced role was interpreted by some critics as a concession to fans who disliked her character;[159] Tran had been a target of online harassment following the release of The Last Jedi. People involved on the previous film defended her, with some claiming some of the attackers were racist, and body shamers.[160] Critics said she was "sidelined" into a minor character, and commented on how she was written out "without any explanation" and her minor role was considered by one critic to be "one of the film's biggest disappointments".[161][162] In regards to the criticism towards her reduced screen-time, screenwriter Chris Terrio said it was due to the difficulty of including the deceased Carrie Fisher archive footage in scenes planned to feature both characters.[163]

Poe Dameron's backstory as presented in the film (that he was formerly a type of drug smuggler called a "spice-runner") was also criticized by some as being racist towards Latinos, as Dameron is portrayed by Guatemalan-born actor Oscar Isaac.[164][165]

Audience response

According to CinemaScore, American audiences gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, the lowest among the live-action films.[133][166] On PostTrak, audiences gave the film an average 4 out of 5 stars, with 70% saying they would definitely recommend it; parents and children under 12 years old (who made up 16% of opening night attendance) gave it a full five out of five stars. Men (who made up 67% of the audience) gave the film an overall positive score of 80% while women (33%) gave it an 84%.[133][167] RelishMix, which tracks social media posts and online presence, "noticed a divided reaction to Skywalker online, though it leaned slightly positive".[133]

Months prior to the film's trailer release, it was review bombed on Rotten Tomatoes to the point where the "Want to See" percentage went down as far as 5% within a day, with many of the reviews focusing on lingering negativity towards The Last Jedi.[168] Similar bombing with Captain Marvel (2019) caused Rotten Tomatoes to completely remove the "Want to See" feature after temporarily changing it to a number.[168]

Accolades

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards February 9, 2020 Best Original Score John Williams Nominated [169]
Best Sound Editing Matthew Wood and David Acord Nominated
Best Visual Effects Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach and Dominic Tuohy Nominated
Art Directors Guild Awards February 1, 2020 Excellence in Production Design for a Fantasy Film Rick Carter and Kevin Jenkins Nominated [170]
British Academy Film Awards February 2, 2020 Best Sound David Acord, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, Stuart Wilson and Matthew Wood Nominated [171]
Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Special Visual Effects Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, Neal Scanlan and Dominic Tuohy Nominated
Casting Society of America January 30, 2020 The Zeitgeist Award Nina Gold, April Webster, Alyssa Weisberg and Angela Young Won [172]
Costume Designers Guild Awards January 28, 2020 Excellence in Fantasy Film Michael Kaplan Nominated [173]
Grammy Awards January 31, 2021 Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - John Williams Pending [174]
Hugo Awards August 1, 2020 Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Chris Terrio and J. J. Abrams Nominated [175]
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards May 2, 2020 Favorite Movie Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Nominated [176]
Visual Effects Society Awards January 29, 2020 Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature Roger Guyett, Stacy Bissell, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Dominic Tuohy Nominated [177]
Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature Daniele Bigi, Steve Hardy, John Seru and Steven Denyer (for "Pasaana Desert") Nominated
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature Don Wong, Thibault Gauriau, Goncalo Cabaca and Francois-Maxence Desplanques Won
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature Jeff Sutherland, John Galloway, Sam Bassett and Charles Lai Nominated

Notes

  1. ^ The "Skywalker saga" refers to the main Star Wars film franchise, which is a trilogy of trilogies.[6]
  2. ^ This is the second posthumous film performance by Fisher, who died in 2016 and appears through the use of unused footage from The Force Awakens.[1]
  3. ^ Rey uses the lightsaber which originally belonged to Luke's father, Anakin.
  4. ^ a b Billie Lourd portrays her mother's character in a short flashback, which also utilizes footage from Return of the Jedi (1983).[9][10]
  5. ^ Unseen footage of Fisher from The Last Jedi was considered but not used.[11][12]
  6. ^ Trevorrow and Connolly's script, titled Duel of the Fates after the theme of the same name from The Phantom Menace (1999), included elements which were utilized to some extent in the final film, such as Kylo finding a Sith holocron in Darth Vader's castle on Mustafar, and the transference of Force energy.[60][61]
  7. ^ According to Todd Fisher, "There's a lot of minutes of footage. I don't mean just outtakes. This is unused, new content that could be woven into the storyline. ... It's going to look like it was meant to be. Like it was shot yesterday."[8]
  8. ^ Also tying this record is Denis Lawson as Wedge Antilles, though he only makes a cameo appearance in The Rise of Skywalker.
  9. ^ In April 2019, Disney's British website also listed Smith as being in the film,[79] but removed his and Monaghan's name the following month.[80]

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