What was your initial reaction after seeing The Rise of Skywalker?
Patrick Mulligan: I came out thinking it was less bad than I had heard, but not as good as it should’ve been. There was a lot to like and some beautiful stuff that fully made me cry, but I walked out feeling a little disappointed that so much of it felt half realized.
Christian Corah: I felt a little bit overwhelmed. Watching the movie is a bit like putting your mouth to a fire hydrant, it is a lot to take in at one time. I enjoyed it the first time though. All of the fan service landed well at the time. It was less enjoyable the second time, and the third time I watched it I accepted it as an acceptable end to the Saga.
Renee Luna: Initially I felt that the pacing was strange, and it seemed there were some plot holes. Otherwise, I loved it. I had read all the spoiler’s months before so knew what to expect as far as the plot was concerned. But the emotional impact of the movie was a surprise. (A second viewing cleared up the pacing issues and revealed that the plot holes were simply details I’d missed the first time around.)
Jamie Binegar: I was over the moon. I loved it. The pacing had me breathless at first – it was a bit too fast in the beginning – but by the end, I was in awe.
Will Custer: I felt excited, but overwhelmed. I was emotional, and truly unsure about how I felt. I wasn’t sure how much I liked certain moments, but knew I needed to watch it again.
Aaron Quinton: I loved it! I came out of the theater happy and elated, only wondering why we didn’t we see Ben’s Force Ghost?
Joseph Forbush: My initial reaction was “Wow. Am I out of breath!” This wasn’t a bad thing. It was a breathless tale of adventure, love, and hope. It invoked every emotion in my body and did what no other Star Wars film has done. It made me cry, laugh, cheer, pump my fists in the air, and in the end of it all, feel proud to be a Skywalker.
Ryan Benner: I had fun with the movie, and I was entertained! It might be my favorite out of the ST.
What was your favorite moment in the movie?
PM: Getting to see Rey, Finn, and Poe go on an adventure together. It felt really good to see the three working together and it shows off just how strong the characters are in this trilogy.
CC: My favorite part was when Rey lost control using force lighting. This created a very emotional moment when she thought she had killed Chewie. Even though Chewie wasn’t killed, the moment was still just as emotional for me in subsequent viewings. It would have been even better if Chewie actually died, but it was still a very strong moment of the film.
RL: That’s a tough question, as there are several. I loved the Sith Temple visuals, the speeder chase on Pasana, and all the lightsaber duels between Rey and Kylo… but I think my favorite moment is when Ben brings Rey back to life.
JB: The rise of Rey, the Jedi of generations past giving her strength.
WC: There are two moments that stick out. I love the Han and Ben moment. It is emotional and one of the major moments throughout the movie that you get some time to take it all in. I am also a sucker for quality father-son moments. The second moment is when the fleet arrives. It felt very Endgamey to me, which I wasn’t in love with the idea, but this moment gives me chills each time I’ve watched it.
AQ: Such a difficult question, because I loved many, but it would have to be when we see the star-scape that reminded me of the World Between Worlds and we hear many of the voices of the Jedi Past to help Rey to rise! Hearing Anakin, Ahsoka, and many others was amazing!
JF: My favorite moment in the movie was Ben’s redemption. His conversation with his father, Han Solo, allowed me to see the polar opposite of what happened to Vader in Revenge of the Sith. Near the end of EP3, Anakin ceased to be himself, essentially killing his old self and becoming Darth Vader. The opposite happened with Ben Solo. Kylo Ren killed his dark past and ceased to be Kylo Ren. He then became Ben Solo. The poetry of redemption was evident.
RB: I am a huge Lando fan so every time he was on screen, I was happy. I also loved the rebellion fleet showing up at the end of the movie and think it was probably one of the most exciting moments in the saga.
What was your least favorite part of the movie?
PM: Very little of the movie feels like it has a chance to breath and flesh out its ideas. I think that would’ve gone a long way towards fixing a lot of its issues.
CC: I hate the whole “you thought we killed this character but they’re actually alive” thing. It is used WAY too often in Star Wars. Whenever a character dies, I have to hold my breath because it’s likely they’ll come back later in the film. I think it is pretty lazy storytelling, and it was a low point for TROS.
RL: Probably the big battle at the end. I don’t dislike it, but sometimes my eyes glaze over in crowded scenes like that.
JB: Honestly? Anything with Zorri Bliss. She didn’t add much for me.
WC: I don’t love the portrayal of Hux. I also don’t hate it, but I saw so much potential for him in The Force Awakens to be like a Tarkin-like character, and I wish they handled his arc differently. Dimhnall Gleeson is such a talented actor, and he feels wasted here. Then again, I do love that his motives are surrounded around taking down Kylo Ren, I would’ve loved more with that.
AQ: Not seeing Ben Solo’s Force Ghost or Anakin’s with Luke and Leia at the end.
JF: My least favorite part of the movie was not seeing a Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker. He is the Chosen One and all I heard was a couple short lines from him near the end. However, I’m satisfied that he at least had some presence in the movie.
RB: If I have to pick a part, it would be the kiss because it felt out of place.
Who was your favorite new character in this movie?
PM: Babu Frik all day baby. I love that little freak.
RL: Babu Frik, of course!
JB: Babu Frik, without a doubt. But also, Jannah.
WC: Babu Frik, duh! Also, Zorri Bliss. Give me a Frik/Bliss buddy cop story.
AQ: Palpatine, The One True Sith Emperor, the All Sith, and Babu Frick if you want a completely new character. But I would argue that the Palpatine we saw was a new character in many ways.
JF: My favorite new character was Jannah. When she spoke with Finn about how this ‘feeling’ that propelled her to rebel against the First Order, it was very powerful and emotional.
RB: Jannah. I love seeing that there are other deserters from the First Order. I also believe that she has family relations to Lando after their conversation near the end of the movie.
How did you feel about the reveal involving Rey?
PM: In theory, I love it as an extension of the idea that your background doesn’t matter. You can come from nowhere and be a hero, but you can also come from evil and be a force for good. However, the movie really frames it as more of an explanation for Rey’s power: which undercuts so many things I liked about the new trilogy. I don’t outright hate it, but I think it was handled it poorly.
CC: At first, I loved it. It made some sense with what happened in The Force Awakens. However, I like the direction that The Last Jedi took her lineage, that she was a nobody. So, I’m not sure how I feel. Regardless, it is way too obvious that they had no plan for who her parents were from the beginning. I don’t care too much about who her parents are, but I wish it felt consistent in all three movies.
RL: I was fine with it. I don’t see it as a message that you have to be from an important legacy family to have power. Quite the opposite, since she refuses to succumb to the darkness within her and she chooses her own identity.
JB: I went through a few feelings during the movie. At first, I was disappointed. I liked Rey from nowhere. BUT she refused to let it rule her and created her own narrative. Overall, I understand why some are disappointed, but it really spoke to me as a whole.
WC: I honestly don’t know. In my review I call it one of the biggest flaws in the movie. There was so much power behind “Rey from nowhere” and it had a stronger theme. Then again, after my third re watch, I found the power and comfort from her denying her lineage, even though it goes against Leia telling Rey to not be afraid of who she is. I clearly have a lot of feelings about it, and maybe this reveal will grow on me, but for now I really don’t love it.
AQ: I thought it was perfect! When re watching The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, it really felt like it makes the most sense that she is a Palpatine.
JF: Personally, I love Rey Palpatine. It’s the ultimate last slap in the face to good ole Palps. Even after his own bloodline killing him, Rey took upon the name of Skywalker, further cementing that Palpatine is gone and the Skywalker will continue on.
RB: Confusing as it was, logically it does not make sense via the saga’s timeline.
Emperor Palpatine will cast a shadow over The Rise of Skywalker and the sequel trilogy – was it worth it to bring him back?
PM: I don’t think so. Expanding upon the sith mythology was interesting and I fully see why they’d want to bring him back to cap off the saga, but there’s a clumsiness to how he was used that makes it feel forced.
CC: At first, I thought it was REALLY cool, but now I think it was way too forced. It would have been better if the Palpatine reveal happened at the end of TLJ. This would also create some excitement for the final film, which was lacking with the closure in TLJ. But they didn’t plan on Palpatine returning, so it felt too forced.
RL: Oh absolutely. The movie needed a “big bad,” and it wasn’t going to be Kylo Ren. Hux had been stripped of whatever illusions of power he had, and it wasn’t going to be anyone new. Palpatine was the mastermind of decades of conflict. It made poetic sense to bring him back and become the “Phantom Menace” once more.
JB: Yes, I think so. He’s too integral a part of the saga to not include him. We’ve had several characters, or events, that caused the same kind of controversy before, and we’ve moved forward. We’ll do the same with this.
WC: I don’t think so. I was excited he was back from the trailers, but that’s from nostalgia. I think there are different ways to approach a “big bad” after Snoke. I mean, Kylo Ren and Hux are right there.
AQ: Absolutely! Yet, as I said above, I think it’s more than hinted that he is Palpatine, physically, yet so much more. The lore building for the Sith in this movie was immense.
JF: Yes! Some may say it wasn’t original by bringing Palpatine back, but let’s be honest, after Snoke dying off so quickly in The Last Jedi, who will be the new bad guy? Ben? Nope. He has too much conflict in him to be the big bad guy and to be taken seriously. He couldn’t even kill Rey or his mother when he had the chance. Palpatine brought an interesting dynamic to the overall story of the Skywalker saga.
RB: I enjoyed him being in the movie, so for me it is a yes, but I truly believe he was not the original plan.
What are your thoughts on the character arc of Kylo Ren?
PM: Kylo has one of the most interesting arcs in the saga and I think he’s one of the best written characters in all of Star Wars. However, not including him as a force ghost at the end of the movie really doesn’t sit right with me. Having him stand with Luke and Leia is the best ending for him within the confines of the story the filmmakers chose to tell, and I’ll always wonder why he was excluded.
CC: I really liked it. The only downside I see is that his redemption in TROS was too predictable. Most fans were expecting it to happen. But overall, his arc, along with Rey’s, were strengths of the sequel trilogy.
RL: I find it to be immensely satisfying. Kylo is the most complex character Star Wars has ever had, and I’m so grateful that they cast Adam Driver for the part. To go from the murderous villain in his first scene in TFA to his last scene in TROS, a frightened man who has mere seconds to make the most consequential decision of his life. In the first, the mask hides him from us. In the last, we see every emotion play across his face. His indecision and terror quickly turn to resolve and calm. It chokes me up just thinking about how beautiful that is. I honestly can’t wait to go back and watch all the movies in the sequel trilogy again.
JB: Well-done. A mirror of Vader in ROTJ to be sure, so it was predictable, but fine by me. I know a lot of people are upset by his death, but I think they had to end it that way.
WC: It might be the best part of this trilogy. He is the most compelling and well written character in Star Wars since Vader. There’s a lot of relatability with him, but his act of self-forgiveness is a great Star Wars moment.
AQ: I loved it. I have many reasons why his redemption made sense to me and if Han Solo was involved, it would work for me! Thankfully, they found a way to involve Leia, Han, and Rey in Ben’s turn and it was very emotionally gratifying for me.
JF: The character arc of Kylo Ren was near perfect. Yeah, I wish we got his Force ghost at the end, but the end wasn’t about him. It was about how Rey is continuing on the legacy of the Skywalker family by being the last hope of the Jedi.
RB: I think we see Kylo at his best in this movie. I really have not enjoyed him as a character, but I think this is a strong finish to his arc.
Finish the sentence, “The kiss was…“
PM: Probably the emotional high point of the movie for me. It was moving, satisfying, and beautiful. I’m shocked those two didn’t use more tongue though.
CC: Eh, it was okay. It was definitely fan service for the REYLOs, and for that purpose, I think it was okay (even though REYLOs still seem to hate this movie). Despite being a little cheesy, it didn’t hurt the movie.
RL: …way more of a confirmation of their feelings for each than I thought would happen. I thought it would stay ambiguous. I’m happy that it didn’t.
JB: Expected, but not as annoying as I thought I would find it.
WC: Expected but rushed. BUT I kinda liked it when I thought I wouldn’t.
JF: Unexpected but had the right hint of Disney magic.
RB: Unnecessary, unneeded, and forced.
Does this movie impact how you view The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi? If so, how?
PM: Skywalker feels sort of separate from the other two in my mind. Maybe it will start to feel more of a part with those films over time, but, for now, it seems like its own contained little mess.
CC: It certainly impacts how I view TLJ. One of the weaknesses of TROS is that it doesn’t feel like it fits within the trilogy. The story doesn’t continue well from what happened in TLJ. Because of that, it makes me appreciate TLJ more. While I still don’t consider it a great Star Wars film, TLJ did a better job of advancing the story than TROS did.
RL: Absolutely it does. That look that Luke gives Rey at the end of TFA, for example, has so much more meaning now than it did before. TROS fills in gaps from the previous films (parentage questions, “I feel it too,” etc.) which I appreciate, while leaving many things wide open (how Palpatine survived, why Snoke), which I also appreciate. I’m looking forward to a several-hour chunk of time to rewatch TFA and TLJ with new awareness
JB: It hasn’t changed TFA all that much for me. As for The Last Jedi – which I really enjoyed – it does make the film stick out in a weird way, since TROS reaffirmed her bloodline in a way that contradicted Rian’s vision. A bumpy trilogy, overall, but still one that I really love.
WC: Absolutely. Maybe not so much with The Force Awakens, but one hundred percent with The Last Jedi. I am someone who wasn’t high on TLJ to begin with, and in the last year I have fallen in love with it. This movie makes that love greater. Rian Johnson took some bold swings, and he lands on a ton of them. The Rise of Skywalker seems to be all surface level thematically, and as a movie fan, I like to be challenged. I hope Star Wars in the future is more like The Last Jedi.
AQ: Yes! Rey’s constant anger management problems and being drawn straight to the dark make more sense now and Snoke makes more sense now too. I speculated for a very long time that Snoke was just a pawn or creation of Palpatine, and it was a payoff for me that was great.
JF: The Rise of Skywalker feels like a completion of the previous two movies. Due to some lazy writing in The Last Jedi, it does a good job answering any unanswered questions from the previous two films. It surpassed my expectations.
RB: I think this movie helps close out some of the storylines started in TFA, but I think it creates more of a negative light on TLJ. It shows that Rian Johnson did his own thing and ignored storylines that had already been put in place.
Did you think this was a satisfying end to not only this trilogy, but the Skywalker Saga?
PM: I did not. While the movie really takes a swing at wrapping up the saga, it felt like a step in a cycle rather than a true ending. As if somewhere off screen, a new evil empire was building another Death Star and the whole thing would just start all over again. I kept thinking about DJ in The Last Jedi saying, “they blow you up today, you blow them up tomorrow” and how I was left feeling as though that cycle was never broken, which would’ve felt more satisfying. Also, bringing things back to where they began in the way they did felt hollow to me. The Lars homestead doesn’t mean anything to Rey. The binary suns work in TLJ because they have meaning to Luke specifically. He’s looking at them as a new man and it makes his story feel complete. Making that part of Rey’s ending doesn’t make much sense. It hones in on The Rise of Skywalker’s biggest issue, making storytelling choices for the audience instead of the characters.
CC: That is a really tough question. I think it was a satisfying end to the Skywalker Saga. However, it also feels like the beginning of a new story. So, I have mixed feelings regarding the closure in this film. I think it was satisfying enough. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a good enough ending.
RL: Yes, I do.
JB: Yes, I do.
WC: I have an off take on this. Or at least, I think I do. I think it does a good job of wrapping up the sequel trilogy, but not the entire saga. Endings are incredibly difficult, but they do an okay job. If you look at the third film in each trilogy, I think this does a slightly worse job than the previous two. It was too open-ended for me think it’s really the ending, we’re totally getting Star Wars Episode X: Broom Boys New Order in 2032.
AQ: This movie, on the whole, felt like a satisfying interim ending in ways. Yet, in other ways, it did not feel to me like the true end of the Skywalker Saga. Too many threads were left open to explore for this to be a true ending.
JF: Was it perfect? No. But is any Star Wars movie? No. However, even with its imperfections, I feel that its perfections outweighed everything else. I loved The Rise of Skywalker and this is why it’s my favorite film in the entire Skywalker saga.
RB: I think it satisfies both.
In ten plus years, what will be considered the defining moment of this movie and this trilogy?
PM: The movie hinges pretty heavily on Palpatine coming back and I think his family ties with Rey will be what people will continue to discuss for years and years. The trilogy however will always be defined by The Last Jedi, which does such a brilliant job of boiling Star Wars down to its core values and using them to lay the groundwork for the future.
CC: Of this movie, probably when Palpatine was finally defeated by Rey. Of the trilogy, that’s a tough question. The story the trilogy told isn’t very continuous, so I don’t think there is one defining moment. I’ll be “that guy” and say the defining moment for the trilogy was when JJ Abrams turned down the chance to direct all three movies. I’m sure he has major regrets for that decision.
RL: Probably Kylo killing Han, and the scene semi-repeating itself. Most definitely the final scene between Rey and Ben in TRoS, and Luke’s sacrifice in TLJ.
JB: I can’t answer for the fan base because we’re all so divided right now, it’s hard to see clearly. As for me, the defining moment of the movie will be Rey’s “I am all the Jedi.” Of the trilogy, perhaps the battle in Snoke’s throne room from The Last Jedi. Or perhaps the be with me moment from The Rise of Skywalker. It’s hard to say what we’ll treasure in ten years.
WC: Of this movie, it will be the lack of the Ben Solo force ghost and Ben dying. I know that’s pretty gloomy, but it’s how I feel right now. I think the moment of this trilogy will be the throne room when Kylo cuts Snoke in half and Rey grabs the legacy saber. That moment changed everything about this trilogy.
AQ: Ben Solo and Rey, as the dyad and their love for one another that helped destroy the Sith Emperor.
JF: I believe the defining moment of this movie and this trilogy will be Bendemption.
RB: The final showdown between Palpatine, Rey, and Ben.
How would you rank this sequel trilogy compared to the originals and prequels?
PM: I’m definitely a bigger fan of the sequels than I am of the prequels, but it’s hard to stack either against the originals. I think more time will have to pass in order to properly compare them all.
CC: It is probably the worst trilogy. The films by themselves are not that bad, but together they don’t tell a great story (outside of Rey and Ben). JJ Abrams should have agreed to write all three movies, we would have then gotten a much better trilogy.
RL: The structure of movies has changed so much since the 70s and 80s, it’s difficult to compare. As far as content is concerned, the sequel trilogy is on par with the original trilogy. While I think that the prequels introduced a great design aesthetic to Star Wars, the quality of each individual film isn’t consistent within its own trilogy. I’d put ROTS on par with the original and sequel trilogy films. AOTC is in second place. TPM sits at the bottom.
JB: I think it’s in the middle. In terms of acting and filming and what have you. But for my own personal ranking, that’s impossible to answer right now.
WC: For me, better than the Prequels (at times), but worse than the originals. The originals advanced what movies and blockbusters can be, and because of that, they will always remain on top.
AQ: It is very mixed for me. I would rank them in a jumble. This one is my favorite of the Sequels; Return of the Jedi is my favorite of the Originals and Revenge of The Sith is my favorite of the Prequels. So, these three films are in my top three.
JF: The vision of the Sequel trilogy is somewhat shaky compared to the others, but mostly because of the direction Rian Johnson took The Last Jedi. It was unexpected and brought a lot of division among fans.
RB: It is probably my second favorite trilogy as I had the excitement of not knowing how it was going to end.
The Skywalker Saga is (for now) finished, what are your thoughts on the nine films after seeing The Rise of Skywalker?
PM: It’s a beautiful fairytale with as much dumb stuff as brilliant stuff that often doesn’t quite reach its full potential. But when it does, it’s truly breathtaking.
CC: There were really great moments, and there were some pretty cringey moments. But there is something for everyone to love in these films. Star Wars has one of the greatest and most complex universes ever created, and there are many other stories to be told within this universe. That is the greatest accomplishment of the Saga in my opinion.
RL: I was first introduced to Star Wars in 1980 with ESB. I can’t imagine a world without Star Wars, and I’m so grateful for this Saga. Episodes VII-IX are truly a gift that wasn’t really supposed to happen. In the future, people will be introduced to the nine-film Saga, but we got to be here for it as it was happening.
JB: My thought is simple. These flawed, beautiful films have defined an area of my life and will stick with me forever. The Rebellion is literally etched into my skin. Like Topher Grace titled that amazing fan edit of his – Star Wars Always.
WC: I truly think Star Wars is the best story ever told. It has a little for everyone. There was about a three to four-year period that I didn’t have Star Wars as a big part of my life. I don’t mean because movies weren’t made, I just forgot about it in a way and I wish I hadn’t. There’s been times since where I have tried to not consume so much Star Wars, but it has this unique way of pulling me back in. It’s this weird, magical family opera in space, and there’s not anything else like it.
AQ: Based on my previous answer, I think a good watching order, for brevity’s sake would now be, ROTS, ROTJ and then TROS. Honestly, it makes me wish for an Episode X!
JF: The Skywalker saga is the most influential story in film history.
RB: It is one of the greatest stories told that I hope will be enjoyed by future generations as much as we did.
Where would you rank The Rise of Skywalker in your Star Wars ranking?
- Empire Strikes Back
- The Last Jedi
- A New Hope
- Return of the Jedi
- Force Awakens
- The Rise of Skywalker
- Rogue One
- Revenge of the Sith
- The Phantom Menace
- Attack of the Clones
My top and bottom three feel pretty locked in, but I always alternate on whether I like ROTJ or TFA more. I also think Skywalker and Solo will swap places a lot for me as the years go by.
CC: It’s hard to say, but it is probably in the middle. I liked it, but I didn’t love it.
RL: I have several Star Wars movies at number 1. ESB, ROTJ, ROTS, and now TROS.
JB: At the moment, fourth or fifth. So, a good middle ground.
WC: Right now, it is eight. It will switch between fifth and eighth for the rest of time.
AQ: I kind of answered this already, I would rank it below ROTJ and maybe equal to, just below or just above ROTS, depending on my mood.
JF: The Rise of Skywalker is my #1 favorite Star Wars film in the saga. I feel that it incorporates nearly everything I wanted and hoped to see. It wasn’t perfect, but I loved and enjoyed every minute of it.
RB: It is in my top 5 out of the 11 films.
What is next for Star Wars?
PM: Hopefully something brand new. I love the sequel trilogy characters and I would love to see more of them, especially because part of me feels like they didn’t get enough time to really shine. But ultimately, I think starting fresh would be more interesting and allow for better films going forward. Whatever they end up doing next, you better believe I’ll be there opening day.
CC: More stories! Hopefully, we get live-action stories well outside of this timeline. Specifically, well before The Phantom Menace. There is great potential for TV shows and limited series on Disney+ too. The future is brighter for Star Wars than it has ever been, and I’m ready to gobble up all new content that we get.
RL: Definitely not an Episode X any time soon… although, I can see them deciding to dust off the Saga in a few decades. For now, I think things like The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars will tide us over until the next movie in 2022. Three years seems like a good amount of time to let anticipation for a feature film build up.
JB: So many things! We’re exploring the time between prequels and OT, we can explore these other defecting Stormtroopers, we can look into the future and see the new Jedi 20 years from now – the possibilities are endless. The best part is that there can be something for everyone. You don’t have to enjoy every part of the universe to love Star Wars. We all have our own little corners of the galaxy.
WC: Please for the love of all things have it be something new. I’m not saying a new story in this current timeline. Create something hundreds or thousands of years separate from it all. Do something a thousand years after the events of the Skywalkers, maybe to the point where people have forgotten the events. Create something new, exciting, and different. Be bold with the stories you tell and make them feel different. Whatever they end up doing, I’ll be there in 2022 opening night of the new trilogy ready to have a rip-roaring good time, and ready to feel like a kid again.
AQ: Well, besides what we know about? Such as The Clone Wars S7, The Mandalorian S2, Cassian and Kenobi? I hope they either do a brand new, long-running animated series, continuing Rey’s journey as a new Jedi and maybe showing that Ben Solo didn’t die, he was transported somewhere else. Or … just give me Episode X!!!
JF: I believe the Star Wars franchise will focus heavily on TV shows through Disney+ with standalone films every few years to keep the general audience interested. There is a lot of Star Wars coming our way and it’s a joyous future for the franchise! It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan!
RB: More of a focus on the Disney Plus aspect for the next couple of years.
What did you think of The Rise of Skywalker?