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What The Critics Are Saying About The Rise Of Skywalker

The saga is ending, but will the story live on forever?

On Monday, December 16, the ninth Star Wars film and the final installment of the Skywalker saga The Rise of Skywalker had its world premiere in Los Angeles, California. Tons of celebrities turned out for the event, as did members of the media, including select film critics and entertainment reporters. Disney and Lucasfilm haven't yet popped the lid off the review embargo for The Rise of Skywalker — the J.J. Abrams-written-and-directed venture that reunites us with the scrappy fledgling Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley) and her crew of Resistance fighters that includes Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), and more — but the companies did allow premiere attendees to take to social media and share their spoiler-free thoughts on the film.

So, is the latest trip to the galaxy far, far away a fun one? Does The Rise of Skywalker successfully tie up all the dangling threads and answer the lingering questions left behind by past Star Wars movies to create a satisfying saga-closing chapter? Is the film worth the wait, and will fans be pleased? Let's take a look at what the critics are saying about The Rise of Skywalker.

Content warning: While no explicit spoilers are discussed in this article, fans may want to turn away if they wish to go into The Rise of Skywalker without knowing anything about the movie.

To some critics, The Rise of Skywalker is the perfect ending to the Skywalker saga

We hesitate to say that there's a general consensus about The Rise of Skywalker at this point, since full reviews have yet to be posted online and because critics are barred from revealing too much in their early reactions, which makes it difficult to pin down a blanket emotion toward the movie. What we can say, however, is that there have been more positive reactions to the film than negative ones, with a common thread in critics' tweets being that The Rise of Skywalker is a larger-than-life, better-than-expected conclusion to the 40-plus-year-long Skywalker saga. 

Fandango's Erik Davis held nothing back when he said of The Rise of Skywalker, "Epic. All of it. [The film] is a terrific finale that is just stuffed with so much of everything. Action, adventure — answers!! — humor, heart, love, and grit. I spent the entire second half with tears in my eyes – a wonderful way to end the Skywalker story."

Screen Rant editorial director Rob Keyes called The Rise of Skywalker an "immensely satisfying and MASSIVE end to the saga" that "somehow addresses issues, problematic characters, and most unanswered questions from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi." 

Entertainment journalist Jenna Busch was moved to tears during the premiere of The Rise of Skywalker, as it checked every box and delivered on every promise. 

"OH MY GOD! I am absolutely blown away! I've never been so satisfied by a film," she wrote. "This is the end of an era and a franchise that has defined my life and this did it justice in a way I didn't imagine it could. You WILL cry."

Slashfilm founder Peter Sciretta tweeted shortly after seeing The Rise of Skywalker on Monday evening, "JJ Abrams nailed it. He was able to bring a cohesive arc to this trilogy that feels like a fitting end to the saga as a whole. I'm so emotionally drained. Star Wars fans will be very happy." He added in a follow-up tweet, "Abrams brings a magical energy to these characters and their interactions. I can't wait to see it again."

There's a lot of fan service in The Rise of Skywalker

It appears that one way The Rise of Skywalker accomplishes the lofty goal of ending the Skywalker saga with a bold bang is through fan service, which critics have conflicting emotions about. 

In addition to being awe-inspiring, "horrifying, hopeful, [and] violent," The Rise of Skywalker is also "full of the right kind of fan service" — at least by the estimations of Nerdist creative director Dan Casey, who agreed that the film is "a fitting ending for this incredible, 40+ year-long saga."

The official Twitter account for CinemaBlend tweeted that The Rise of Skywalker "jammed with fan service" — but the kind that will probably divide fans and spark heated discussions about the Star Wars universe. 

Though she didn't specifically mention fan service as the catalyst for conversation, Rotten Tomatoes editor Jacqueline Coley wrote that The Rise of Skywalker director and co-writer J.J. Abrams has "certainly given us plenty to talk about."

Film and television critic Yolanda Machado shared that she wasn't entirely surprised by the events of The Rise of Skywalker, and felt that "too much fan service was given." However, those downsides didn't detract from the overall greatness of what The Rise of Skywalker does and accomplishes in her eyes. Machado tweeted that the film is "everything and nothing that you're expecting," and that her immediate reaction to the film was "I love this franchise and I'll miss the Skywalker saga."

Award-winning journalist and film critic Scott Mantz had similar feelings about the fan service in The Rise of Skywalker: there's a lot of it, but he really enjoyed the film as a whole. He made no mention of what the result of packing so much fan service into the film might be, though, instead keeping his reaction contained to his own excited thoughts: "Really awesome! The best of the new trilogy! Really fun, lots of humor, a big heart! So many surprises! It's everything #StarWars fans are hoping for, and more! A very satisfying conclusion! A lot of fan service, but I loved it!"

Some critics feel there's too much going on in The Rise of Skywalker

You know the old saying: too much of a good thing is a bad thing. For some critics, this adage applies to The Rise of Skywalker.

Uproxx senior entertainment writer Mike Ryan tweeted that The Rise of Skywalker is "certainly the most convoluted Star Wars" movie, and that it's quite overwhelming in the first half. 

"There is a lot I liked, but the first half gets so bogged down with exposition and new plot and doodads and beacons and transmitters, it feels like it should have been three movies on its own," Ryan wrote. He added in another tweet, "My favorite Star Wars are the ones that take their time and focus on the characters. The whole first half felt like all exposition. It does get better. And Lando rules. But there's just so much plot it feels so rushed. And the Emperor stuff is so weird."

Mashable's Chris Taylor kept his feelings about The Rise of Skywalker short and simple, unlike what he felt the movie was: "#TheRiseofSkywalker is a lot. It's like 9 movies of plot in one. Going to take me about 9 days to process."

Angie J. Han, also of Mashable, echoed Taylor's sentiments in tweeting that The Rise of Skywalker is "a lot." She expanded, "Tons to love here, no shortage of crowd pleasing moments and twists and cameos, but also quite a bit to [think about]." Han also hinted at an emotionally fulfilling send-off for Carrie Fisher's Leia Organa, and some heart-warming moments with new characters Jannah (played by Naomi Ackie) and D-0, a little droid pal who looks like he has a megaphone for a head.

Collider editor-in-chief Steven Weintraub was particularly cryptic in his reaction to The Rise of Skywalker, but what he did offer following the premiere of the film suggests that he may not have enjoyed it. He tweeted on Monday night, "I might be in the minority on #TheRiseofSkywalker. I have a lot to say but will wait till after it has opened."

Others don't know what to think about The Rise of Skywalker

Variety senior entertainment reporter Adam B. Vary seemed to have mixed feelings about The Rise of Skywalker — or, at the very least, feelings that couldn't be easily processed and posted in a 280-character tweet immediately after the film's premiere. He shared on his Twitter account, "I'm gonna need a minute to digest #StarWarsTheRiseofSkywalker. There's so much movie in this movie. But its best moments are the quietest and most human. Giving this more of a think, though."

Vary wasn't the only one who had this reaction, with Gizmodo and iO9 entertainment reporter Germain Lussier tweeting that he can't yet decide how he feels about The Rise of Skywalker. He wrote, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has everything you want and more. Which I don't necessarily think is a good thing. I loved parts, I didn't love others, and I'm leaving the theater very, very conflicted about it."

How The Rise of Skywalker stacks up against The Last Jedi

In addition to the question of whether or not The Rise of Skywalker is actually any good, the other thought on every Star Wars fans' mind is how the film compares to its predecessor, writer-director Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi. Critics were careful not to spoil anything about the forthcoming flick, but a few commented on how the Skywalker-saga-closer stacks up against the film that split the Star Wars fandom in two

The New York Times' Kyle Buchanan implied that The Rise of Skywalker is an insult to The Last Jedi when he tweeted that the new film "could only have been ruder to Rian Johnson if they had motion-smoothed it." 

On the flip side, ABC correspondent Clayton Sandell had a completely different reaction, writing that Abrams and the Rise of Skywalker team crafted an "epic ending" that "gives a whole new appreciation for The Last Jedi in the process."

You're just going to have to see The Rise of Skywalker yourself

It goes without saying that these are but a selection of the many first reactions to The Rise of Skywalker that critics were able to put out on social media without getting into hot water with the legal departments at Disney and Lucasfilm. Far more in-depth reviews of the film will be available to read (and watch, for all you video movie review fans) once the companies lift the review embargo for The Rise of Skywalker on Wednesday, December 18 at 12:01am PST — a full day before Thursday-night previews begin on December 19.

As the world witnessed in 2017 with The Last Jedi, everyone is going to have their own unique opinion about The Rise of Skywalker, and there could be a big divide between critics and fans once the flick officially launches in theaters. While absorbing other people's reactions to a movie is generally a harmless, hype-boosting activity in the lead-up to the premiere, it's important to remember that just because millions of people love the same property you do, it doesn't mean you'll see eye to eye with them.

That said, it's best to head into your Rise of Skywalker screenings this week with an open mind that's prepared for anything and everything to happen. You may love it, or you may hate it, but the only way to find out is to see The Rise of Skywalker yourself starting on Thursday, December 19.