‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’: First reactions are split

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It seemed like an entire galaxy attended the world premiere of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” on Monday night in Los Angeles, and the lucky first wave of viewers had several thoughts.

Initial reactions were, unsurprisingly, mixed, as is standard for just about any installment in a franchise so beloved. But some are so diametrically opposed, it’s almost hard to believe everyone saw the same film. Most, however, were able to agree on one thing about the highly anticipated finale to the Skywalker saga: It’s a lot to take in.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is the third film in the trilogy starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, who play a fresh class of resistance fighters in the ongoing struggle to defeat the corrupt First Order (led by Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren) and bring peace to the galaxy.


At Monday’s premiere of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” director J.J. Abrams and actor Ian McDiarmid detailed the surprise return of Emperor Palpatine.

Dec. 17, 2019

Among the sequel’s champions was “When They See Us” mastermind Ava DuVernay, who called it “truly emotional,” “jawdropping” and “the perfect end to an epic saga,” with special kudos to lead actress Ridley.

“To balance scope and scale with so much heart like that is a feat,” the producer wrote. “The performances are so damn good. Especially, Daisy. A fantastic ride.”

“Charlie’s Angels” director Elizabeth Banks also appeared impressed, praising and teasing one undisclosed moment in particular.

“I cried,” she tweeted. “And ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ has the best no-sex love scene I’ve seen in a long while.”

Others were less satisfied, with many lamenting how the narrative distances itself from its predecessor, “The Last Jedi.” The 2017 Rian Johnson film is one of the most polarizing entries in the “Star Wars” universe, with supporters — including The Times’ critic Justin Chang — lauding Johnson’s decision to veer from the tried-and-true, good-versus-evil formula as refreshing, while purists found his embellishments insulting.

The lead-up to “Rise of Skywalker” had many wondering whether Abrams would run with the unconventional and controversial themes Johnson introduced. Apparently not.


“RISE OF SKYWALKER could only have been ruder to Rian Johnson if they had motion-smoothed it,” wrote the New York Times’ Kyle Buchanan.

“The emotional highs are spectacular, and there are a lot of payoffs (some earned, some not),” tweeted IGN’s Laura Prudom, before adding, “But some choices feel like an unnecessary course-correct from ‘The Last Jedi’ and some just plain don’t make sense.”

The common thread among early “Rise of Skywalker” viewers? Overstimulation. For better or worse, the movie promises plenty of action and adventure, with journalists on Twitter calling it “9 movies of plot in one,” “stuffed with so much everything” and “a lot.”

Check out more “Rise of Skywalker” first impressions — ranging from “immensely satisfying” and “terrific” to “convoluted” and “disappointing” — below.