Keepin’ It Reel: “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Cassidy McKnight, Staff Writer

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” has been a long-awaited movie for fans of the force. Now, those same fans are as divided in their views on the movie as the Resistance and the First Order. Reportedly, the latest film is supposed to be the 9th and final film of the franchise. As a longtime fan of the series, I enjoyed the fast-paced plot and familiar faces that I have loved since I was a child. “The Rise of Skywalker” was a box office hit for its fans and their families, and although we are all sad to see it end, it could not have ended more perfectly and I can’t wait to watch it again.

We begin our journey in a galaxy far, far away, where we join fighter pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac) and ex-stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), along with Chewbacca and C-3PO, as they take flight in the famous Millennium Falcon on a mission to recover information about the First Order from an unknown rebel spy. While our pilots are being chased by First Order tie fighters, the movie turns to the last remaining Jedi, Rey (Daisy Ridley), undergoing Jedi training with the one and only General Leia, played by the late Carrie Fisher. Even though everything seems peaceful with the rebels, the same can’t be said for the First Order’s leader Kylo Ren, the son of the late Han Solo and General Leia. Kylo Ren is summoned to the Sith world of Exegol, where he soon discovers that no one is truly ever gone, not even the ruthless Emperor Palpatine who has risen to power once again with only one thing in his sights: Rey. Will the rebels be able to save Rey from the dark side’s tempting clutches or will Rey realize that blood is thicker than water?

Carrie Fisher’s untimely death three years (and two films) ago shocked Star Wars fans to the core. Not only was she loved by so many, but fans like me were also concerned. How was Star Wars going to continue without the beloved and fierce Princess/General Leia Ortega? Luckily, Disney and Lucasfilm agreed that the show must go on and Fisher’s longtime legacy would be preserved in this final installment, without full CGI. Long before they began filming, Star Wars writer and directory J. J. Abrams had already decided he would not recast the part or have Leia’s character removed. In an interview with Vanity Fair Abrams states that he realized they had some unused footage from filming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and crafted a narrative around Fisher’s performances. The crew worked diligently to take this footage and create scenes from scratch around the lines that Carrie Fisher was saying.

Not only do I give huge credit and respect to Abrams for preserving the beloved princess, but I also highly respect Fisher’s daughter for continuing in the franchise as her character, Lieutenant Connix, and even including herself in some scenes with her late mother’s character. It really brought a different type of emotion to longtime fans’ hearts to see the mother and daughter together again, even after death. The crew who worked on “The Rise of Skywalker,” along with the actors, definitely jumped through a lot of difficult and emotional hoops to bring Fisher back on screen, but as a longtime fan I truly appreciate it.

Overall, this film was action-packed from beginning to end. Considering all the special effects, the postmortem acting of Carrie Fisher and the exciting fast-paced plot, “The Rise of Skywalker” absolutely earns a 9/10 from me. As a longtime fan I am both sad and proud to say that Star Wars has ended exactly the way it should have: in a return to its roots. May the force be with you all.