The Star Wars sequel trilogy is a series of films where the directors are playing a game with each other—one where they see how badly they can screw over the director before them. Rian Johnson threw all of J.J. Abrams’ ideas over a bridge and then set the bridge on fire just because he likes to see stuff burn, and then J.J. rebuilt the bridge and tossed his ideas over it again just to say to Rian that he is in control.
The character drama in “The Rise of Skywalker” is mostly incoherent and all sloppy. There is this character we meet halfway through the film, Zorii Bliss, who has ties to Poe. Her entire character arc is told in about a rushed 10 minutes, with an introduction, a sappy backstory, and then an epiphany—and then the movie dares to ask us to care about this one-off character that we are hardly accustomed with. Right when you think they are going somewhere with Hux, they kill him off unceremoniously and toss him to the side (literally). Leia’s death is supposed to be a send-off for Carrie Fisher, but it ends up being disrespectful instead.
Supposedly, there is this bubbling darkness inside Rey, but she shows no sign of it. She and Kylo also have no chemistry other than what the script says they have.
The plot is a mix of fan fiction-style amateurism and go-there-do-that fetch-quest storytelling. On the fan fiction side, it re-purposes beloved characters and elements to grossly misuse. Force powers grow out-of-scale, turning into power creep. On the fetch-quest side, the plot boils down to planet-hopping with occasional bosses to defeat. The writers cycle through planets every 10 minutes, leading to the plot becoming jumpy.
In this film, it becomes increasingly obvious that Disney had no plan whatsoever for the trilogy as a whole. Nothing connects between the films, thematically or plot-wise.
On a positive note, the set pieces are the best they have been in the entire sequel trilogy. The effects are great, as always. Billy Dee Williams had a lot of fun getting back in the game, and he is a delight to watch for this reason. They managed, at the very least, to bring it to a conclusion. These are the good parts; if these superficial qualities are enough for you, then you might enjoy the film.
In the end, these films will not leave a taint on the legacy of the original trilogy because they do not have enough memorability to leave a legacy of their own. They are a non-entity in storytelling.