Let me suggest, if you want to get a clear read on a movie, not to see it with your dad, an 84 year old superfan. This was how I experienced Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, sitting next to the man with whom I’ve seen every Star Wars movie in the saga, from the first one we saw together in French, (La Guerre des Étoiles, or Un Nouvel Espoir) in the 70s. On the other hand, maybe that is the perfect way to see the last film in this particular part of the saga. Star Wars has always been about family, both blood born and made. It has always been about love, sacrifice, and courage. This new film, whatever you’ve heard, is no different. It is a rollercoaster of emotions, another love note to Joseph Campbell and his archetypes, and a celebration of The Force. Despite its flaws, if you go with one of your favorite people on the planet, and they love the series as much as you do, you’ll laugh, cry, and enjoy every minute of it. Isn’t that what a movie that comes out at the holidays is for? 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention also that this particular release lands on the anniversary of the death of my little sister Jane from a car accident at age 16. It happened a long time ago, in 1998, but for the family of a lost child and sibling, the date, in this case December 17th, is forever changed and tainted. It took a lot of commitment for Dad and I to decide that we could go. We could celebrate Star Wars, and in so doing, celebrate Jane, who loved those movies as much as the rest of our family. 

I’m not going to give any spoilers about the film. I’ll just say that it’s a film that makes you feel all your feelings, especially if you’ve already got a hole in your heart, and who doesn’t have a hole in their heart?

For my part, I honestly really enjoyed myself, even if at one point tears were projecting themselves from my eyes in a horizontal fashion. I wager if you commit to going for enjoyment’s sake, you will, too. Is the movie trying to do too many things at once? Yes. Did I want to see way more Kelly Marie Tran and Naomi Ackie? Yes. Were there some people who would not have been satisfied no matter how this film was crafted? Definitely. Daisy Ridley proves herself to be a strong female lead we can all get behind, but hopefully so too will Tran and Ackie in future films. I’d also like to see where the writers take the characters John Boyega and Oscar Isaac have so beautifully brought to life thus far. 

It feels like the only way to find Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker unredeemable is by walking in expecting it to fail, but fail at what? It entertains. It clarifies. It sweeps the floor on the way out. With Victoria Mahoney as the second unit director, it makes history as the first Star Wars film with a women at the helm. It even has a queer kiss, though if you blink, you might miss it. 

Some movies are really meant to bring you joy, catharsis, and escapism. Speaking as someone who sat with a man who has lost a child and still chooses to laugh and cry in a dark theater to the sounds of pew pew pew, I can speak to that: It did. For that, I celebrate it.  

3 out of 5 stars