Screw the critics — “The Rise of Skywalker” is just right

All rise.
All rise.
Image: Lucasfilm/Disney
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This review contains no spoilers. Really.

I love Star Wars. You love Star Wars. We all love Star Wars. No matter how we may disagree on how to rank the films, who the true hero is, or which droid is our favorite, the one thing that unites all fans is that we’re devoted to this saga despite its many flaws. Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is no exception.

The film critic Roger Ebert wrote that when a movie is good, “you allow yourself to be absorbed in its fantasy, and its dreams become part of your memories.” Over the years, Star Wars transcended the first part. We let the fantasy carry us even through the roughest bits: wooden dialogue, plot holes, ludicrous costumes, lame acting, annoying and offensive characters. An episode didn’t have to be much good to keep us devoted and craving more, or for the global audience to grow.

Has any movie in history ever been anticipated more eagerly, by a wider swath of people, than the final installment of the series? Is it possible to to bear up, much less deliver, under the weight of such… hope? 

The answer, of course, is no. So Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is actually perfect: flawed, and falling short of impossibly high expectations, yet keeping us in thrall to its fantastical, long-ago, far-far-away galaxy from the opening crawl until the credits roll—just as its eight predecessors (or 10, if you include the two “stories”), more or less.

Along the way, JJ Abrams and his team have given us a great deal here: answers to some of our most burning questions, emotional highs and lows, and quite a few surprises we haven’t seen before. We meet new friends, reunite with old pals, and watch our heroes struggle and resolve their conflicts. Sure, OK, there are parts that seem a little busy, and you’ll have to suspend your disbelief with quite a bit of will. But you’ll also laugh, gasp, recoil, shudder, cry, and cheer. And the whole thing is imbued with just so much heart. What more could you want, really?

If this review seems a little cheesy, a little nostalgic, and a little earnest, well, the movie—nay, the whole saga—is too. And we love it anyway, or that’s exactly what we love about it. Either way.

So whether you’re a baby boomer or Gen Xer whose journey started in 1977 with Leia, Luke, and Han in the theater, or a millennial or Gen Zer who fell in love with the saga in your own time, the only real letdown isn’t any of the choices the filmmakers made here, but the fact that our shared journey, like that of our beloved heroes, is now, with The Rise of Skywalker, over. Thanks, Lucasfilm, for the dreams that became our memories.