Rise Of Skywalker’s Unique Star Wars Opening Revealed Its Story Problem


The beginning of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was different from previous Star Wars movies, but this uniqueness may have highlighted the real problem with the story. Certainly, it would be fair to say that the reaction to The Rise of Skywalker was somewhat mixed. Story choices throughout played better with some sections of the fandom than others, while it also received mixed reviews from critics and the joint lowest Rotten Tomatoes score for any live-action Star Wars movie. Even so, although it was expected to be more successful at the box office, a gross of $1.074 billion still constitutes a big hit considering the production budget was $275 million.

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Following Star Wars’ traditional opening crawl that detailed the return from the dead of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), The Rise of Skywalker began with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) searching for a Sith Wayfinder. The journey took him across the galaxy to the planet Mustafar, where his grandfather, Darth Vader, had been defeated by Obi-Wan Kenobi and where Vader had subsequently been based throughout all the years of the Galactic Empire. This was where Ren discovered the Wayfinder, which then led him into the unknown regions, to the ancient Sith homeworld of Exegol and the resurrected Palpatine.

What was truly unique about this opening to a Star Wars movie was that, from the end of the title crawl until Kylo Ren reached Exegol, the action took the form of a montage rather than full scenes. Traditionally, montages have been used to convey a lengthy passage of time by using fragments of images to form a shortened whole, most famously utilized in the training sequences of the Rocky movies. This was undoubtedly a bold choice to begin a Star Wars movie. The issue was that it might have set the tone for the storytelling that followed. Throughout the movie, there was a feeling of being in a rush to get to the end, or at least to the next action sequence. As a result, the characters and the audience were not given enough time to take a breath or luxuriate in The Rise of Skywalker‘s story because the character moments, the connective tissue between scenes, were largely absent. This, in turn, threw the pacing off and could be said to have made the whole film feel more like a montage of a larger story.

Rae Carson’s novelization of The Rise of Skywalker only amplified this feeling. In it, both major and minor characters were more fleshed out, and their motivations better conveyed. A novel has the luxury of more time to tell the story, whereas an economy of purpose can often benefit a movie. Nevertheless, the difference is stark. Similarly, it is worth comparing The Rise of Skywalker to director JJ Abram’s previous Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. The earlier film certainly had plenty of action that was both swift and precisely conveyed. Despite this, it was also unafraid to engage in quiet, reflective moments. The introduction of Rey (Daisy Ridley) still is a particularly fine example of this because those scenes were not only a break from the action-packed opening but also conveyed much about the character to the audience with remarkably little dialogue.

There were undoubtedly good reasons for such a huge difference in storytelling approaches to both films. JJ Abrams had a huge amount of pressure to deliver a fitting ending to the Skywalker saga in circumstances that were far from ideal. The tragic death of Carrie Fisher changed many of the plans for the movie, as did the departure of Colin Trevorrow as director. Add to this the changed release date, the rewriting of scenes during production, and having to deal with the online reaction to The Last Jedi, and it now becomes more understandable as to why some of these storytelling issues occurred.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was evidently a difficult movie to complete. There were simply too many conflicting things being attempted. As a result, despite some story choices, like the Rey “Skywalker” ending, being sensible and logical, the truncated story and editorial choices made it a slightly underwhelming finale to an epic saga.

Key Release Dates
  • Rogue Squadron (2023)Release date: Dec 22, 2023
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About The Author

James Eddy (6 Articles Published)

James Eddy is a freelance writer for Screen Rant, focusing on Movie and TV Features.

Based in Norfolk, England, James works on writing fiction, mainly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres and on a website he designed to aid better mental health through reading books, listening to music, watching movies and encouraging creativity.

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