Complaining about the big, broad swings of the lightsaber that is Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s plot is boring. We can whine endlessly about the specific writing decisions and whether they’re bad or good, but, where does that get us? Plus, if you liked The Rise of Skywalker, but you’re scratching your head about a few things, you’re probably kind of sick of trying to debate that it was perfect when you know it was really just okay but flawed.
Recently, director J.J. Abrams pointed out “it’s a crazy thing that there’s such a norm that seems to be void of nuance and compassion — and this is not about Star Wars, this is about everything.”
And he’s right! We could all stand to be a little more nuanced when it comes to how we criticize movies like this one. Not everything has to be the best movie ever or a total dumpster fire.
So, with that in mind, let’s talk about what could have been a bit better in The Rise of Skywalker without tearing the whole thing down. In other words, this list is trying to bring a little bit of balance back to the endless fan debates.
Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
First off, to be clear, again, the purpose of this list is not to debate the big plot decisions of The Rise of Skywalker. We’re going in with the assumption that huge decisions — like Rey being a Palpatine — would stay the same. Often times, the problem with fiction isn’t the big decisions, its in the details. So, let’s start lightspeed skipping through some stuff that could have helped “fix” The Rise of Skywalker without throwing the Dark side baby out with the bathwater.
5. It could have been 30 minutes longer
By the third minute of The Rise of Skywalker, we’ve already seen the opening crawl and Kylo Ren has been on two planets (Exegol, and Mustafar before that). A lot of plot can happen in a short space of time in both this Star Wars movie and every Star Wars movie.
In a movie like this, even 30 more minutes would have given the whole thing more breathing room. Everything about The Rise of Skywalker feels rushed. It needed to catch its breath. More time would have let us understand some of this stuff, and allow Rey, Finn, and Poe to really reflect on what they were going through.
4. Less Zorri, More Lando
Zorri Bliss was an okay character. She was fine. I think Kerri Russell is great, but Zorri’s main purpose is to introduce the good guys to Babu Frik and rebuff Poe Dameron. Later, she shows up in the final battle, suggesting she helped rally the galaxy against the First/Final Order.
But what if instead of spending that time with Zorri, we got more Lando instead. There’s no denying that all these years later, Billy Dee Williams has still got it. We would have loved to see more of him in Rise of Skywalker, whether that was a look at how he convinced all those people to help join the Resistance or just kicking back at that jungle base with Leia.
Or, if we’re really going for it, you could swap out Zorri for Lando entirely. Lando’s always had shady underworld connections. So why not have him be the one to help the good guys find Babu Frik instead?
3. Make it two movies
Forget a trilogy! If we agree that every Star Wars movie with an episode number is part of the same story, why not just have Episode IX set-up Episode X. After all, it worked for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.
If Peter Jackson could stretch The Hobbit into three movies, that pretty much proves anything is possible. In that case, it was a terrible decision made almost entirely to see more movie tickets, but for Rise of Skywalker, we really could have used another movie.
In the end, we needed more Star Wars, not less. Two movies would have been controversial, but very possibly, more honest to the story Rise of Skywalker was trying to tell.
2. Abrams, Terrio, and everyone should have taken an extra year
You can’t help but feel like everything about this movie was rushed. Abrams pretty much admitted it outright in a November interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“We always knew we were going to have three fewer months to postproduction this film, he said. “So much is still being worked on. It’s literally a practical race to get it finished.”
It shows. Would it have been so bad to let the movie come out in 2020? The first two Star Wars trilogies had three years between each installment. Which means six years passed IRL during each trilogy. This time, it’s only been four, and we’ve had a “complete” trilogy. One more year to work out the kinks would have been fine.
1. Jedi ghosts should be seen AND heard
The big moment at the end of the movie where Rey hears the voices of all the Jedi is awesome, but wouldn’t it have been a million times better had we seen some of those Jedi spirits as well as heard their voices? It seems improbable Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor were unavailable to film short cameos. This was the end of nine saga films, would it have been so hard to show several shimmering ghosts of past Jedi?
Rey calling upon the Jedi to be with her is basically the “Avengers, Assemble” moment of The Rise of Skywalker (well, that and all those ships showing up to help the Resistance) so it would have been nice to actually see a bunch of these folks. From Samuel L. Jackson to Liam Neeson, all of these people are around and surely available to actually do the work. Plus, they all still look great, and it would have been beyond cool to have seen the Jedi one last time. We got Yoda’s ghost in The Last Jedi, why not everyone else this time out?
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out everywhere now.