This movie holds the responsibility of finalizing a saga 43 years in the making. That is no small feat, and it would be impossible to please everyone, but this movie does a lot of things right.
The first good decision that was made was putting J.J Abrams back in the directors chair. His style, that is often criticized for being kind of cheesy, fits perfectly for this movie. I think that tropes are more acceptable, and even welcome, when used for a grand finale like this one.
The movie makes it apparent that J.J himself is a big Star Wars fan. The fan-service, of which there is a lot in this movie (obviously) is much more endurable when it comes from someone who understands the fanbase, and is able to tell a crowd-pleasing story without feeling too catering.
Unfortunately, J.J didn’t walk this balance perfectly throughout the movie. The tendency of ripping off specific scenes from the original trilogy is a habit that J.J didn’t quite get rid off after The Force Awakens. At a few points in The Rise of Skywalker, the scenes felt a little too familiar. On the other hand, I may have been looking for it subconsciously, after seeing him basically just remaster a movie in The Force Awakens.
The cinematography in this movie is like nothing ever seen in Star Wars before. It stands out as more artistic and thought out than any previous Star Wars film. I even noticed the cinematography switch styles a few times during the movie. It goes from being filmed like an action movie, with long one-cuts, quick panning and turning, making the action more coherent and fun. Later on, it depended more on panoramic wide-shots for scenery and closeups on characters, giving it a fantasy-epos kind of feel.
The story of The Rise of Skywalker will undoubtedly be extremely polarizing. The story obviously needed to be grand and epic, to end the saga on a high note. Neither were there any sequels to conform to. This led the writers to take some extreme decisions and an almost excessive amount of creative freedom.
I personally thought the story was fun and entertaining, but I can imagine certain fans being too caught up in the technicalities of the Star Wars universe to allow themselves to enjoy it.
Unfortunately the story lost its focus in the third act, seemingly at the expense of trying to subvert our expectations back and forth, which just became annoying after a while.
Despite some technicalities here and there, I really enjoyed this movie. It was simply dumb fun, which is what Star Wars has always encapsulated to me. It feels very conscious in what will satisfy the fans, and it doesn’t shy away from making itself an easy target for naysayers. It’s made by the fans, for the fans, and it’s definitely worth a watch.