Well, I think ireactions did a fantastic job of summarizing a lot of things about the movie. So I'll just make a list of my thoughts since it will be hard to be a lot more eloquent and detailed than him.
- Overall, I had fun with it. I think what they decided to go with worked, I thought the movie was fun, and I think the character pieces worked. Leia was a bit distracting, but I thought their use of her was nice and effective. I feel pretty good in thinking that they were almost able to do exactly what they wanted with her.
- I think it's a fine wrap-up. I don't necessarily agree with Grizzlor that it's definitely a wrap-up of the Skywalker story. Especially because of what I'm about to get into.
- Palpatine. I was very uneasy with this plot direction for a lot of reasons, which I'll hopefully get to. I'd be curious to know why this path was chosen. Was this JJ's plan all along? Or did he have to pivot when Rian Johnson killed Snoke? Was this a matter of sticking to the plan, or did they have to frantically throw together a new plan when Rian Johnson left his movie the way he did? I don't know. I liked The Last Jedi, but I do think it's a movie that feels either complete or ends on such a low note that it's hard to imagine the good guys winning.
The problem with using Palpatine are two-fold. The first is the bigger concern, and that it just comes so far out of left field. Nick Mason on the Weekly Planet podcast had a good point - The Rise of Skywalker doesn't feel like a sequel to either Last Jedi or even the Force Awakens. It feels like a sequel to an unproduced Episode VIII that exists only in JJ Abrams' head. I'm sure they'll retcon stuff to make pieces fit, but it feels like so much is missing since there weren't really any indications that Palpatine was alive or pulling any strings. There were no hints, no clues, and no mystery boxes even implying that.
And I get where they're coming from. If this series has an overarching villain, it's Palpatine. He's there in Episode I and he's there in Episode VI. The second that the sequel trilogy's Darth Vader was revealed to be Han and Leia's son, we knew he wasn't going to be the overall bad guy. So when Snoke died...who else was there? Hux? Laughable. They could've brought back Snoke in the same nebulous way they brought back Palpatine....but why? Snoke is barely a character. Even if you reveal him as Plageous - that's essentially a brand-new character. So outside of just doing a brand-new character, why not bring in someone who was the villain for at least six of the movies. Bringing him in at the last minute worked in Episode VI. Why not here?
Well....we've been there. We've seen that. Not only does it undercut Episode VI's ending, I think it sorta undercuts this movie's ending. Is the Emperor dead this time? Was he actually dead the first time? Does the movie even tell us what happened? Is he a clone? Or did he survive falling down that shaft? The comics famously had a situation where Sidious simply transfers into a new clone whenever he dies. So is that possible again? Is there any reason to believe that Rey wouldn't end up fighting the Emperor again? And if so, can this really count as a definitive ending?
- Dismissing Rian Johnson so hard. I get it. People didn't like the Last Jedi. But it's one of the 9 episodes of this saga. People don't like Episode I, but Darth Maul has been resurrected into canon because people like him. There's a whole TV show about the events between Episodes II and III. The prequels are hated, but there hasn't been any effort to erase them from existence.
As ireactions showed, JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson essentially played tennis with this trilogy. JJ Abrams did some stuff. Rian Johnson turned that stuff on its ear and overrode some of it. JJ Abrams did the same.
And that's fine. Rian Johnson essentially tried to make Kylo Ren the main bad guy, but JJ (obviously) wanted him to be a character that can be redeemed. Rian Johnson wanted to make a statement that the Force doesn't care what your last name is - it can pick anyone to stand up and face the darkness - that even an orphan scavenger girl can stand up against the Crown Prince from the most powerful family in the galaxy, but JJ wanted her to be someone important. Rian Johnson thought the mask was stupid, but JJ knew they could sell toys and that they needed the mask for Galaxy's Edge.
But therein lies the problem. You have created a trilogy that became a tug of war against itself. I don't think TROS is disrespectful to the Last Jedi, but it obviously wants to do its own thing. So it almost makes TLJ seem like an unrelated adventure, and like Nick Mason said, it makes TROS feel like a sequel to a movie we never got. It feels disjointed because it's a three-episode TV show with no second episode.
In retrospect, they either needed to stick with the plan of 3 different directors or have JJ direct all three. Because having Rian Johnson subvert JJ Abrams' ideas obviously hurt the flow of the movies. And I think if Colin Trevorrow or anyone else had directed this, I think it would've one it it's own direction instead of (at times) awkwardly pivoting in a direction that it was no longer traveling.
Because I think Rian Johnson left breadcrumbs on how he wanted his version of the story to end. The little boy with the mop at the end showed that anyone can have the force. So maybe Trevorrow or Deborah Chow's version ends with a bunch of Reys stepping up to fight the evil of the galaxy. Nobodies standing up against the Skywalker legacy that had so much good and bad. I don't know - JJ didn't seem to care about that much.
- The Batman v Superman / Justice League connection. Chris Terrio co-wrote this film. He also co-wrote BvS and Justice League. I bring this about because I think those movies are tied to these movies. Batman v Superman was the Last Jedi for DC. Zack Snyder, love him or hate him, did some things with characters that were unexpected. Batman kills. Superman's relationship with humanity is...complicated. These characterizations were hated, and when Justice League came around, they were mostly ignored. Batman doesn't kill. And Superman is remembered as a guy who was revered by everyone. They're the characters we love and remember.
Kinda feels like the Last Jedi. People hated how the Last Jedi treated Luke Skywalker. So the Rise of Skywalker goes out of his way to say that Luke was wrong to do and say the things he said. He's the Luke we all loved and remembered.
I'm not comparing the movies any more than that because I don't think there's much more to it than that. I just think it's kinda funny that BvS and TLJ are two of the most controversial genre movies we've ever seen, and Chris Terrio essentially Jedi Mind Tricked us both times into ignoring the things we didn't like about the previous movies.
- Wrap Up. All in all, I liked it for what it chose to be. I just don't really understand why it chose to be that.