Emperor Palpatine announces to the galaxy that he has returned from the dead, but when the Resistance confirms it's true, most people don't react much beyond "Gee, that sucks" without questioning it further.
At the beginning of the movie, Palpatine reveals he was the source of the voices Kylo heard in his mind, including impersonating Kylo's dead grandfather whom he idolizes and emulates. Kylo doesn't visibly react to this revelation and he only thinks about it a few times in the novelization.
The destruction of the planet Kijimi gets only a few seconds of screentime, and no character expresses any sadness at the deaths of all those people. Poe once lived there and presumably knew many people there, including his old friend Zorii Bliss, who was seemingly trapped there after giving Poe her means to leave, but even he reacts little to the tragedy.
Ex-stormtrooper Jannah doesn't appear bothered about killing stormtroopers and Finn continues to show no angst about it, despite both of them knowing that stormtroopers are brainwashed and others may want to defect like they did.
In the film, Ben and Rey react very little to being one in the Force as a "dyad" despite such a revelation being presumably a big deal. Rey also has little reaction to his death despite their supposedly close bond.
Ben and the Knights of Ren, who have known and fought alongside each other for several years, battle at the movie's climax. The Knights don't express any shock, disappointment, or outrage at their former boss for betraying them and the First Order with his HeelFace Turn. Ben kills them all and presses on like they were an afterthought.
Temmin "Snap" Wexley, a key character from the Aftermath series that readers have seen grow from a young boy to a hero, is shot down in the final battle. Moments later, Snap's step-father and mentor Wedge Antilles arrives with Lando and does not so much as comment on the death of his stepson. This one might be more understandable given that Snap and Wedge's relationship is relegated entirely to the Expanded Universe, so if the viewer hasn't read the associated books the reference will be lost on them.
Anvilicious: The film isn't subtle about its "bloodlines don't matter as much as choices" aesop; Luke spells it out for Rey and the audience in the third act, and Rey adopts the family name "Skywalker" in the final scene. Some people suggested the filmmakers retconned Rey's origins from The Last Jedi to hammer this aesop in. J. J. Abrams stated he thought it was more dramatic for Rey to find out she didn't come from nothing, but instead from "the worst place possible" and still chose the light after struggling with the dark side.
Arc Fatigue: Rey's family background dominates her story arc for the entire trilogy. The Force Awakens alone has Maz outright telling Rey and the audience her parents aren't coming back and she needs to let them go to find belonging elsewhere (being Luke as a teacher and possible parent figure). In The Last Jedi, Rey and the audience are confronted with the knowledge that her parents were junk traders who sold her for drinking money and are irrelevant to the story, rather than anyone important. Rian Johnson said learning she was "nobody" was the most devastating answer Rey could get but that she could now move on, which seemed to close this arc. The Rise of Skywalker instead reopens it by abruptly revealing that Rey is actually the granddaughter of Palpatine. And there are still unanswered questions around her heritage by the end.
The Resistance hasn't bounced back from their defeat in The Last Jedi. In The Force Awakens, they were a small but capable army who took out Starkiller Base and multiple First Order flagships; now they're a tiny group of rebels who are well-intentioned but don't have the capacity to take down the First Order alone. They're sidelined at their base for most of the film, and they get curb-stomped in their Last Stand on Exegol before Lando arrives with a civilian fleet he pulled together for them.
Leia goes from badass Force-user surviving the vacuum of space in The Last Jedi to overexerting herself and dying to contact her son in this film. This is enforced due to the limitations of the repurposed footage of Carrie Fisher from before her death.
Snoke turned out to be a Disc-One Final Boss rather than the Big Bad in The Last Jedi and this film cements it by revealing he was a mere puppet for the true Big Bad, Palpatine.
The plot twist that Palpatine is Rey's grandfather. Fans who like it say it explains or justifies why Rey is so powerful in the Force and offers a more interesting origin story than her being a "nobody"; they also argue that it doesn't contradict The Last Jedi because Rey's grandparents were never discussed. Fans who don't like the twist criticize it mainly for retconning The Last Jedi, being yet another plot point lifted from the Original Trilogy, being cliched, causing plot holes and undermining the message about heroes not needing to come from a famous bloodline. Other fans Take a Third Option; they don't mind the twist in and of itself but believe it could've been set up better.
The handling of Rey and Kylo's relationship - especially the kiss they share near the end - which managed to annoy both Reylo shippers and those who oppose the pairing. Some saw it as being contrived at best and romanticizing abuse at worst, citing the fact they spent most of the trilogy as sworn enemies and Kylo's previoustreatment of Rey. Even some shippers believe it lacked development and thought the problematic elements should've been addressed rather than swept aside. Others liked the scene, but disliked that there wasn't any further exploration of the relationship and felt that having a repentant Ben die immediately after Rey kissed him was unfair to both characters. The novelization appearing to downplay the romance angle only broke the base further; shippers think the creators are trying to retcon it after backlash, while some antis take this as proof the shippers were wearing Shipping Goggles. The kiss scene itself is written ambigiously enough that you could interpret it either way.
Ben Solo's Redemption Equals Death. Some fans think it was a fitting end for his character, while others disliked it for copying Anakin's story arc and felt that Ben's character had more to offer by remaining alive. A smaller group thought he should've remained a villain, arguing that this was where The Last Jedi seemed to be leading and that it was less predictable.
The numerous attempts at addressing fan complaints toward The Last Jedi seems to have split the fans in several directions. Those who liked that film were turned off by the repeated shots at it, for obvious reasons. Among those who didn't like The Last Jedi, some appreciated the film giving voice to their complaints, while others felt that the attempts at "correcting" those problems actually made things worse, or that the movie simply spent too much time on this rather than telling its own story.
Does the novelization and its attempts to explain or add more context to certain plot points make things better or worse? Common points of contention are whether Rey and Ben's kiss was supposed to be romantic, Rey's dad being an "imperfect clone" of Palpatine rather than his biological son, and Palpatine himself being a clone. Then there's the argument that no amount of Author's Saving Throws in a novelization will fix the contentious parts of the film because what's done is done, while others think it made a decent effort to add more depth and coherence to the story.
Rey changing her last name to Skywalker. Some fans think it's an insult to Luke, Anakin, and Leia due to Rey's status as a Base-Breaking Character, some fans are fine with and/or support it (it's understandable Rey wouldn't want to share a surname with the Star Wars equivalent of Adolf Hitler and it fits the Family of Choice theme), a third group is fine with the idea of her changing her surname but feel that "Solo" or "Organa" would have been more fitting (as she was closer to Han and Leia than Luke), and yet another group thinks she should've stayed "just Rey".
Rose Tico's sidelining. Fans of the character thought it wasted her potential and came with some Unfortunate Implications after the racist and sexist harassment Kelly Marie Tran endured; Finn/Rose shippers also weren't happy that the pairing was unceremoniously abandoned. Those who didn't care for the character weren't that bothered, arguing she was superfluous to the story so it made sense to reduce her role (although this apparently wasn't the filmmakers' original intention with Rose). On the other hand, even some people who didn't enjoy Rose's role in The Last Jedi felt this film's handling of the character was clumsy and/or would rather have seen the character better written than just Demoted to Extra.
Is Duel of the Fates - Colin Trevorrow's original Episode IX script - better, worse, or on par with The Rise of Skywalker? Some would argue it may sound okay on paper but we'll never know how it would've panned out onscreen; it would also still have had to be rewritten due to Carrie Fisher's death. Others think they should've incorporated more of this script into Rise, though there are still divisive plot developments there, such as Kylo Ren dying as a villain - albeit choosing to Pet the Dog in his last moments - and Rey and Poe being romantically paired. And some are glad it was never made.
Captain Obvious Aesop: The most reductive message of Rey's arc is "being related to an evil person doesn't guarantee you'll be evil". It's not a bad Aesop exactly but given the context, most viewers hardly expected Rey to turn to the Dark Side just because she discovered her long-lost grandpa is the Dark Lord of the Sith. The worst things she's done are accidentally blowing up a transport she thought contained her friend and angrily stabbing an unarmed Kylo Ren (who had nearly killed her and whom she immediately heals), almost everyone believes her to be a good person and tells her so (including those that know her family history), the one person who insists the Dark Side is "in [her] nature" is a villain who is heavily projecting, plus she only learned she was related to Palpatine a few hours ago.
Captain Obvious Reveal: Rey being a Palpatine - while lacking foreshadowing in previous installments - is heavily telegraphed in this film. Palpatine telling Kylo that Rey is "not who [he] thinks she is" in the opening scene is just the first of many heavy-handed 'clues'. By the time Kylo reveals Rey is Palpatine's granddaughter near the third act, many viewers had already guessed the twist would be something along these lines (although some were still caught off guard by the specifics of the reveal, as Palpatine had never been hinted to have children).
The Chris Carter Effect: Criticisms of this film commonly focus on the plot not following threads set up by The Last Jedi, which itself was criticized for abandoning threads set up by The Force Awakens. J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson developed the first two film scripts independently of each other and each had very different visions for where they wanted the franchise to go. They also expected Colin Trevorrow to helm the third film and may have intentionally left threads unresolved to give him creative freedom, but he was removed and Abrams was brought back in to finish the trilogy on a tight timeline. And that's not even getting into questions left by this movie. And then there's the issues caused by Carrie Fisher's death and the further rewrites that necessitated.
Cliché Storm: By the end of the first act, it's easy to predict how the film will play out since it's similar to Return of the Jedi. The hero is related to a bad guy who wants them to join the dark side. The mentor dies heroically partway through to raise the stakes. The heroes make a last stand against the bad guys who are equipped with planet-destroying weaponry, a bunch of extras/side characters get whacked, but they prevail at the last minute by blowing up the bad guy's main ship and getting an unexpected cavalry arrival. The hero goes to confront the Big Bad alone where they're tempted one last time to join the dark side, and they are saved by the sacrifice of a redeemed villain.
Since the film has only one line that establishes which of Rey's parents is Palpatine's offspring, people who missed hearing it don't realize the film confirms it's her father and believe it's unspecified.
Contested Sequel: Some fans who disliked The Last Jedi liked how The Rise of Skywalker sidelines the events from that film. Among those who disliked The Rise of Skywalker, there were instead some who hated this movie specifically because they believe it ignores the events of The Last Jedi in order to pander to the fans who hated that one. Other fans of the original trilogy dislike both movies (or the entire trilogy), thinking neither is a worthy sequel to the story that concluded in Return of the Jedi. And Legends fans reject the entire Disney continuity. Despite crossing the one billion mark on the box office, it also ended up being by far the lowest grossing of the Sequel Trilogy. It also got far more mixed reviews from professional critics than the first two entries; it has a 51% score on Rotten Tomatoes, while The Force Awakens has 93% and The Last Jedi has 91%.
For people who didn't read Resistance: Reborn, where Finn says he and Rose decided they were Better as Friends, the abandonment of the Rose/Finn romantic subplot set up in The Last Jedi can be jarring.
Designated Monkey: The First Order Stormtroopers. They're constantly subjected to slapstick violence and other gags, and the heroes generally lack sympathy for them, yet the movie also re-emphasizes that most of them are kidnapped childrenbrainwashed into serving evil. Despite this and the fact two of the heroes are themselves ex-stormtroopers, they're still treated as disposable mooks for the good guys to thoughtlessly blast away.
Draco in Leather Pants: Despite Kylo Ren spending over half the movie as a straight-up villain whose main goal is to usurp Palpatine, fanworks often portray him as a hero who's brainwashed into being a villain, often just needing romantic love to make him better, more heroic than the film's actual heroes, or being a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who doesn't want power. He's frequently given redemption stories without the film's death part, using the expected alternate universe and fix-its to undo or avert his death.
Ending Aversion: A lot of people were disappointed by this film as a conclusion to the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy and especially as the Grand Finale to the "Skywalker Saga". Reasons include leaving many of these viewers' questions unanswered or answered unsatisfyingly, not meshing well with the previous films due to Ass Pulls and retcons, contributing further to the Happy Ending Override of the Original Trilogy, and being too similar to Return of the Jedi. As a result, these viewers don't see much point investing in the "Disney Trilogy" or anything post-Return of the Jedi (except for The Mandalorian maybe) or replace it with the Legends continuation such as the Thrawn Trilogy novels. This is also possibly reflected in the film's box office earnings; although still a financial success The Rise of Skywalker is by far the lowest grossing of the Sequel Trilogy.
Allegiant General Enric Pryde quickly became popular despite his very little screen time because he spends that little time being a No-Nonsense Nemesis who is extremely ruthless and efficient. His portrayal by Richard E. Grant quickly cemented this view of a minor character.
Whether you love the film or hate the film, almost everyone loves Babu Frik, the little alien dude that has one major scene.
Rey's dark doppelganger is onscreen for less than a minute, but she left quite an impression on audiences thanks to being equal parts cool and creepy (and quite attractive, as far as some viewers are concerned). Some audience members were fascinated by her even before the movie came out after her brief, but memorable, appearance in a sizzle reel.
Klaud, the slug-like alien mechanic in the first Millennium Falcon scene, got a joke following on /tv/ pre-release before becoming a fan-favorite.
Prior to release, theories about the title's meaning included retconning Rey into a secret Skywalker, Kylo being redeemed and taking "Skywalker" as a surname, delving into Palpatine's role in the Skywalker origins, and a new generation of Jedi using "Skywalker" as a title for high-ranking masters in Luke's honor.
Palpatine says that he wants Rey to kill him so his spirit will transmigrate into Rey. Rey fights him knowing this, he ends up dead, and Rey appears dead when she falls. Since Ben also dies soon after reviving her, there's no one else left who'd be able to read Rey's mind or run some Aura Vision on her to see if there's anything wrong... like Palpatine successfully possessing her body. Maybe that's the reason for Rey's Angst? What Angst? about Ben's death. Although, "Rey" kissed Ben after reviving so that's probably enough proof she's not Palpatine (or so we hope), so this is probably just paranoia... right?
The inclusion of Ahsoka Tano and exclusion of Ezra Bridger in the voices of past Jedi kicked off speculation about their fates post-Star Wars Rebels. Neither had a canonical death when the film was released, Ahsoka no longer considered herself a Jedi, but Ezra was a Jedi when he disappeared. Dave Filoni, Ahsoka's creator, remarked that her inclusion in the voices of the Jedi doesn't necessarily mean she died.
How Palpatine is alive after dying in Return of the Jedi is ambiguous within the film. The Visual Dictionary and novelization explain it's a mix of Sith mysticism, Darth Plagueis's teachings, and a cloned body. Before that confirmation, theories spread regarding whether or not Palpatine ever died or was just injured, if this is the real Palpatine, and how his resurrection was accomplished. Since he did it before, further theorizing considers if he'll do it again.
Esoteric Happy Ending: The supposed Bittersweet Ending of Palpatine and the Sith finally and decisively destroyed by Rey is hampered by her going through extreme, irreconcilable loss in the process. As such, she may be more at risk of falling to The Dark Side, and with the Skywalker and Solo bloodlines gone, the Jedi still extinct as far as we know and the galaxy being in a state of complete anarchy due to the lack of a government and the First Order — while dealt a big blow to their forces — still in control of a lot of systems, meaning that the war will continue. To cap it off, given how the similarly optimistic ending of Return of the Jedi was completely undone, there's little reason to assume it will stick this time.
Allegiant General Pryde, as played by the inimitable Richard E. Grant, serves as a welcome call back to the likes of Grand Moff Tarkin, standing out as a sinister, cunning, and competent antagonist.
Following him are the Final Order, combining the coolest parts of the First Order with Star Destroyers that have planet destroyers mounted on them.
Although he does end up having a HeelFace Turn, Kylo Ren is possibly the coolest he's ever been in a theatrical Star Wars film. He's traded tantrums for Tranquil Fury and the opening scene features him nearly singlehandedly taking out a Sith cult, marching alone into a creepy temple and threatening Emperor Palpatine. He cleverly uses his Force bond with Rey to fight her over long distances and/or identify her location, and he actually manages to turn the tables on her in a lightsaber duel until his mother's death gives him pause. His repaired mask also looks quite cool, especially with its references to the Japanese art of kintsugi.
Evil Is Sexy: Evil Rey in Rey's vision in the ruins of the Death Star. She isn't wearing anything stripperiffic, just a tighter black robe vaguely in the Emperor's style, but she sports slightly more makeup than standard Rey, as well as an intriguing, mysterious expression. Though the effect is subsequently somewhat undermined when she bares her teeth in a hiss, revealing that they've been sharpened into fangs and making her look like a demon out of a nightmare.
Some fans feel The Reveal that Palpatine was behind everything again rehashes the previous films, wasn't properly foreshadowed, cheapens the Original Trilogy, and causes some retroactive Fridge Logic and plot holes. Two of the biggest are the lack of explanation for how Palpatine survived his death, and that some of Snoke's actions contradict Palpatine's plans.
Some fans dislike the change from Rey's parents selling her off for drinking money to selling her as protection from Palpatine; either way, they left Rey behind with a sleazebag to be abused and starved for over a decade. Fans think changing the motivation for their Parental Abandonment makes them none too bright, as there are many better ways they could've gone about hiding Rey, while Kylo's explanation of "They sold you to protect you" comes off as an awkward attempt to explain the contradictions between The Last Jedi and this film. Revealing that Rey's father is Palpatine's never-previously-mentioned son also comes off as an Ass Pull, and it put the image of Palpatine having sex in people's heads.
The novelization reveals that Rey's father is a "not-quite identical" clone of Palpatine rather than his offspring via procreation. Although this alleviates some of the squick over Palpatine procreating the old-fashioned way, it further complicates Rey and Palpatine's relationship; genetically-speaking, she could be considered his daughter rather than his granddaughter despite Palpatine referring to her as such. This raises more questions about her family background instead of providing definitive answers, such as why Palpatine would allow a "weak" and "powerless" clone to survive long enough to procreate. It just doesn't sound like what happened between Jango and Boba Fett.
Fanfic Fuel: There are some plot threads that offer promise:
The story of Palpatine's son/Rey's father is fanfiction hyperfuel, the Squicky image of Palpatine conceiving be damned.
The exact nature of a dyad and whether Ben will really stay dead.
Those broad hints that Finn is a Force Sensitive? Well, if Rey's gonna rebuild the Jedi or some kind of Force-wielding school, looks like she's already got a pupil.
Lando and Jannah are headed off on one epic road trip to discover her past. Even if Jannah doesn't turn out to be a biological daughter, adoption (formal or not) is still a perfectly valid option.
Rey telling Finn she had a vision of herself and Kylo Ren on the Sith Throne together. They're basically just handing out Alternate Universe Fic fuel with that one.
Fanon Discontinuity: The film's opening weekend wasn't even over before many fans declared that it had been jettisoned from headcanon. Some fans take this further and disregard the Sequel Trilogy as a whole, choosing to believe that the Saga still ends with Return of the Jedi (or still treat the old Expanded Universe — continuation post-Return of the Jedi included — as true canon). Many fans of The Last Jedi likewise prefer that film as an open-ended conclusion to the saga, due to The Rise of Skywalker walking back or retconning many of the creative choices in that film.
Even though Poe and Finn both get some Ship Tease with Zorii and Jannah, respectively, fans still widely prefer to ship them together. The fact that none of them definitively end up in a relationship by the end, Zorii and Jannah are pretty thinly-etched, the Ho Yay is still strong with them and that Oscar Isaac himself ships the pair certainly helps. Even Mark Hamill wrote a poem seemingly supporting the ship.
Coming in close second to Finnpoe is Finnrey. After Rey's rather divisiveromance arc in this movie, a number of fans have stated they'd have preferred that Rey hooked up with Finn (or had no love interest) despite them being intended as Platonic Life-Partners, citing that they're already friends, they have potential moments of Ship Tease, Finn has never hurt her and he doesn't come with the baggage of being a mentally unstable dictator.
Ben's fight with the Knights of Ren has some pretty bad fight choreography. At one point his blaster simply disappears between edits (similar to the disappearing Praetorian knife in The Last Jedi) so he can't just shoot the six guys with melee weapons. The camera then deliberately draws focus to Ben performing a bizarre move where he bends forward, holds his lightsaber behind him, and just stands there for a solid few seconds as one of the Knights goes out of his way to hit the blade instead of his completely exposed legs, torso, and waist. The way it's shot indicates the audience is supposed to take it in as cool-looking.
Rey's fight with the Sith Troopers has some questionable editing. It appears to be the same scene shot at different angles, with the footage spliced together out of order; this results in Sith Troopers somehow getting hit by blaster bolts that weren't aimed at them, Troopers that got shot suddenly being fine a few frames later, Rey's hand motions not always matching what happens onscreen and one Trooper firing at the ceiling for no apparent reason. She ends up killing the same set twice, leaving only one set of bodies.
People are using Ben Solo's death as Fanfic Fuel, theorizing that since we never saw his Force Ghost nor Rey mourning him, he's not really dead. A vocal Misaimed Fandom keeps petitioning Disney to resurrect him, either by re-doing the ending or resurrecting him in a spin-off.
Dave Filoni, creator of Ahsoka Tano, has hinted that Ahsoka's voice being among those of the past Jedi does not necessarily mean that she's dead.
It's Short, So It Sucks!: A common complaint by viewers is that the movie is simply too short to properly wrap up everything it needed to. It clocks in at a little over two hours excluding credits, causing the movie to have to go through the various plotlines incredibly quickly with no time for the audience to breathe for a moment. Many believe that had the movie been given an extra half-hour, it could've been able to wrap up some of the plotlines more naturally and been able to expand certain plotlines that in the final product are quickly thrown aside, like Hux's reason for turning into a spy for the Resistance. Some have even gone so far as to say it feels like they had to crunch enough material to make two movies into just one.
Negative reviews often say this film is safe and nostalgia-reliant and prefer the more experimental direction in The Last Jedi, while the prior film got They Changed It, Now It Sucks! complaints in its negative reviews.
The Reveal that Rey is Palpatine's granddaughter gets negative comparisons against the Luke, I Am Your Father twist from The Empire Strikes Back, especially among fans who liked how The Last Jedi made Rey "nobody" instead of descended from another character.
Ben Solo's Redemption Equals Death is criticized in part because Anakin Skywalker already had that ending; some people believed Kylo would live redeemed or die unredeemed after cast and crew said his character journey would be the opposite of Darth Vader's.
Jerkass Woobie: Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. He's still guilt-ridden by what he did to his father, being Supreme Leader hasn't brought him peace or happiness, and he finds out he's been manipulated his whole life by Palpatine, who even impersonated his late grandfather. His main goal throughout the film is to just be with Rey one way or another. Upon realizing his mother has died, he just stands there and lets Rey stab him. While helping Rey take down the man who has been ruining his family's life for over fifty years, he gets the crap beaten out of him, Rey dies and he's left crying over her body, before sacrificing his own life to bring her back. He gets only a short moment of legitimate happiness in the entire trilogy before dying; Rey is the only one who mourns him (briefly at that) and unlike his granddad, he doesn't even get a funeral.
Rey and Kylo shippers mainly want to see how the ship develops. Many come out disappointed as any romantic potential ends when Ben sacrifices himself to bring Rey back to life and dies after sharing a Last Kiss with her.
To a lesser extent, people went to see what would become of Princess Leia now that Carrie Fisher had passed away.
Others came just to get a sense of closure and to see how the Sequel Trilogy - and the Skywalker Saga as a whole - would end.
Some less-informed moviegoers were looking forward to seeing "Baby Yoda", not realizing that he's actually exclusive to the TV show The Mandalorian.
Like You Would Really Do It: Almost no one believed that Rey was going to stay dead after defeating Palpatine, especially as they'd introduced Force healing; sure enough, she's revived two minutes later.
Lost in Medias Res: The film's breakneck pace results in it rushing through important information and plot twists without elaboration. The first five minutes drop bombshells that go unexplained yet form the film's main conflict: the Resistance has managed to greatly replenish its forces (when it was reduced to a few dozen people onboard the Millennium Falcon), Palpatine has somehow returned, Palpatine was secretly behind everything in the Sequel Trilogy, and he has a massive new fleet of planet-destroying Star Destroyers.
Misblamed: Although fans have complained about Leia's storyline in this film, as shown in Unfortunate Implications below, a number of the developments cited resulted from changes necessitated by the death of Carrie Fisher. In particular, Leia's death to redeem Kylo Ren resulted from the necessity of killing her off combined with a desire to give her death meaning.
Misaimed Fandom: Kylo Ren is intentionallywrittento be acomplex,sympathetic and compelling Anti-Villain rather than a one-dimensional Card-Carrying Villain. As a result, he's developed a strong fanbase who hope for more content featuring Ben/Kylo prior to his death. However, the misaimed fans go beyond simply enjoying the character to viewing Ben Solo as the ''hero'' of the trilogy, defending or downplaying his evil actions as justified or out of his control because of victimization by Snoke, Palpatine, his unloving family, and a galaxy that hates him. They're Viewers in Mourning who believe Ben's death turns his story into a pointless tragedy full of Unfortunate Implications when he was "supposed to" live, give them hope, and inspire them. They've spammed official Star Wars social media accounts and created trending hashtag campaigns including #SaveBenSolo, #BenSoloLives, #BringBenSoloBack, and #WeLoveBenSolo seeking a rewritten ending or resurrection.
In the exact opposite of the way that Kylo Ren's lightsaber lets out a buzzing, unstable hiss, the golden lightsaber that Rey creates at the end lets out a strangely melodic snarling sound upon ignition that is absolutely glorious to hear.
Many people complain that this movie invented "Force-Healing" considering it a ridiculous power that goes against the lore of the franchise, even though this ability already existed for years, even before Star Wars was bought by Disney. It can be traced at least as far back as 1987 and the West End Games Star Wars RPG. Same with the dark side power of Force Life-Drain.
Dark Empire and its sequel share Emperor Palpatine escaping death by fleeing his body, resurrecting in a decaying cloned body, and seeking to transfer himself into another's body. They have a Skywalker lured by Palpatine to the dark side, Palpatine using a secret location to hide and then threaten the galaxy with a massive armada and ship-sized planet-killing weapons, and a ship equipped with a Death Star superlaser.
Star Wars: The Old Republic has an immortal Emperor who was slain, returns with an invincible fleet from the Unknown Regions, states his old Empire was but a first attempt, has a family with a parent that tries to flee with the children who are later crucial in his final downfall, and whispers offers of power into the protagonist's mind while intending to use them for rebirth. The Sith Inquisitor storyline heavily features a Star Destroyer equipped with a superlaser.
The Emperor wants Rey to become a female apprentice strong in the dark side, much like Mara Jade as the Emperor's Hand in The Thrawn Trilogy.
Palpatine and Rey tapping into the combined powers of all the Sith and Jedi respectively is similar to Jerec's plan in Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. Luke Skywalker also called upon the spirits of past Jedi to vanquish an ancient Sith Lord in Jedi Academy Trilogy.
Knights of the Old Republic has the Force Bond between Bastila Shan and Darth Revan which resembles Ben and Rey's dyad. Like Rey, Bastila is a light side-aligned Jedi; like Ben, Revan was a Jedi who turned to the dark side and returns to the light with the help of his bond/dyad partner. Rey's appearance resembles Bastila's, including hair buns, outfit with draped elements, and a yellow lightsaber; Kylo's The Force Awakens outfit looks like in-universe cosplay of Revan. Both pairs have Foe Romance Subtext, but unlike Rey and Ben, Bastila and Revan become an Official Couple. The pairs also share the initials "R" and "B.S." The Visual Dictionary says the Final Order named a battlegroup after Darth Revan, and Palpatine tells Rey and Ben their dyad has happened before. Fans suspect this is all an intentional homage.
Rey gets a lot of flak for being considered a full-fledged Jedi despite only having a few days and one years worth of training in the previous installment and this film, respectively. Luke Skywalker was in the exact same situation in the original trilogy, having only a year of training with the last living Jedi by the time he confronted Palpatine in Return of the Jedi. And unlike Luke, who had to learn everything from scratch, Word of God explicitly said that Rey indirectly learned many of her abilities when Kylo Ren probed her mind on Starkiller Base. That said, the movies don't make it clear that Rey learned Force techniques this way and Luke is still outmatched by Palpatine, while Rey defeats him directly (albeit at the cost of briefly dying).
James Earl Jones reprising his role as Darth Vader only lasts three words out of one sentence... but, hey, it's James Earl Jones reprising his role as Darth Vader.
Boolio, who only appears in the beginning to tell the Resistance about Palpatine and the Final Order fleet before his next scene showing onlyhis head. His appearance also introduces a new alien species Ovissian who has a rather unique design. Being voiced by Mark Hamill also helps.
Harrison Ford returns as Han Solo, who posthumously manages to complete his wayward son's HeelFace Turn and kick off Ben's heroism in the final act.
Babu Frik, the delightfully chummy black market droid smith who steals the scene despite barely 2 minutes of screentime and being rather tiny.
One True Threesome: The amount of people shipping the Power Trio of Rey, Finn, and Poe together skyrocketed with this film after it gave them scenes together and a group hug in the finale.
Padding: The main heroes' quest to find Exegol takes over half the film to conclude. They need to locate one of only two Sith Wayfinders that shows the way to Exegol, so they find an inscribed Sith dagger on Pasaana that will point to the Wayfinder's location when translated, but Threepio's programming won't let him share a Sith translation until a droidsmith on Kijimi hacks his programming, then they need to get the dagger back because it was stolen by the First Order, then they go to Kef Bir to use the dagger to find the Wayfinder... and then when Rey finally gets the Wayfinder, the whole quest is nullified due to Kylo Ren destroying it. Instead, Rey uses the Wayfinder that Kylo found in the opening scene to get to Exegol and guide the Resistance. Reveals along the way, like finding out that Hux is the spy and Rey is Palpatine's granddaughter, could have occurred outside this inconsequential plotline.
Pandering to the Base: The filmmakers appear to be appeasing those who didn't like The Last Jedi by addressing the contested elements of that film. Rose Tico's role is greatly reduced, Rey is no longer a "nobody" but the granddaughter of Palpatine, and General Hux is unceremoniously executed to make way for Allegiant General Pryde. Whether you think this was a good or bad thing largely depends on one's views of The Last Jedi.
Ron the Death Eater: Many accuse Rey of stealing Luke's last name, when the reality is that the ghost of Luke and Leia gave her their approval.
Shipping Bed Death: Rey/Kylo has been a popular ship since The Force Awakens, but the way it's handled here disappointed a lot of shippers: They're revealed to be a Force "dyad", they team up following Ben's HeelFace Turn, they kiss after Ben revives Rey...then Ben immediately dies. Some shippers felt there was little build-up to the 'romance' (the creators can't even seem to decide if their relationship is romantic); Rey and Kylo spend the majority of the film as enemies with few emotionally intimate scenes, so the culmination of their relationship can feel tacked-on. Some shippers disliked that the problematic elements of their relationship (such as Kylo being a violent stalker) were never addressed, leading to Unfortunate Implications. It didn't kill off the ship altogether, but many shippers were dissatisfied with the onscreen presentation.
Ricca: It was a profoundly dissatisfying iteration on the idea of Reylo. Okay, yes, they kiss on-screen. Which is somehow less meaningful than the angry looks, or the reaching out, the hand touches [of the previous movies]. Then having it end there, with Ben Solo dying, redeemed kind of, is unsatisfying.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Rey/Kylo shippers and Rey/Finn shippers have frequently crossed lightsabers following the film's release. Reylo shippers argue that Rey and Finn were never intended to be anything but Platonic Life-Partners and have no romantic chemistry, while Rey and Kylo were intentionally given Ship Tease and Foe Romance Subtext, and Rey forgave Ben's villainy and initiated their kiss after he repented. Finnrey shippers argue that Finn is better boyfriend material, some of Rey and Finn's interactions can be interpreted as Ship Tease, Finnrey lacks the problematic elements of Reylo and that Ben's death ended any romantic potential while Finn is still alive. John Boyega's comments on social media poking fun at Reylo and seemingly supporting Finnrey only added more fuel to the fire.
Previously unused footage of Leia was incorporated into scenes with Rey and the Resistance, and it's often obvious that she is not physically present with them or interacting with them.
In the flashback of Luke and Leia training, the faces of the young Luke and Leia are actually taken from footage of Return of the Jedi. Unfortunately the integration of old and new footage doesn't quite work, and many fans joke that the faces look like they came out of the video game Star Wars: Battlefront instead.
While The Force Awakens touted its use of practical effects, miniatures, and puppets as a "return to basics," this film's spaceship action has hypersaturated colors and weightless camera motions that remove the sense of presence and believable physics.
Strangled by the Red String: Kylo and Rey have been, in the words of this film's Visual Dictionary, "sworn enemies" ever since their violent first meeting in The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi gave them Foe Romance Subtext, but not much in the way of genuine affection; Kylo still stalks Rey, painfully invades her mind, kills and attacks people she cares about, rejects her redemption offer and battles her repeatedly, culminating in him almost killing her before Leia intervenes. Despite all of this giving Rey valid reasons to hate and distrust Kylo, in this film she heals a wound she dealt him and kisses him after he revives her. Prior to this, the pair hadn't shared any scenes that weren't antagonistic on some level since The Last Jedi (a year ago in-universe).
Viewers who liked the fact that Rey wasn't secretly related to any other characters, just Randomly Gifted and thus more unique, were disappointed when this film made her Palpatine's long lost granddaughter. They criticize this for being a trite and underdeveloped plot twist; a few viewers even go so far as to say it undermines Rey's entire character arc.
A number of viewers didn't like Poe being revealed as a former spice runner, which had never been mentioned before in the Canon. The main complaints are that it feels unnecessary and adds nothing to Poe's characterization (it's used to explain why Poe knows a droidsmith and then never gets brought up again), it makes Poe too similar to Han Solo (hotshot, maverick pilot with a shady past) and has some potential Unfortunate Implications (Poe's the first major Star Wars character portrayed by a Latino actor and now has a backstory involving drug smuggling).
Too Cool to Live: Kylo Ren outwardly matures a lot before he becomes Ben Solo again (complete with hints of Han Solo's and Anakin Skywalker's devil-may-care attitude) and kicks all kinds of assalongside Rey, as well as being capable of reviving Rey after she's killed defeating Palpatine. He dies in the end, sacrificing himself to bring Rey back from the dead, thus leaving Rey the only prominent and trained Light Side Force-user in the galaxy (his death also brings an end to the entire Skywalker family, unless one counts Rey adopting the surname after all is said and done). He's still cool enough to become one with the Force upon death.
Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley's performances are frequently cited as the highlight of the movie. Driver in particular has been praised for convincingly portraying a post-HeelFace Turn Ben Solo without any dialogue; following his conversation with "Han", he only says one word and acts purely with body language and facial expressions.
Despite his limited screentime and generic lines, Ian McDiarmid once more gives it his all as Palpatine.
Trapped by Mountain Lions: Most of Finn's screentime on Kef Bir is spent trying to help Rey after she goes ahead of the others to find the Sith wayfinder. By the time Finn and Jannah catch up to Rey, she's fiercely dueling with Kylo Ren and Finn can't do anything to assist her; she even Force-pushes him back to ensure he doesn't endanger himself trying. Ultimately, Finn's actions on Kef Bir don't advance the story or develop his character.
Ugly Cute: The adults of of Aki-Aki (the festival planet desert whatsit early in the movie) aren't too notable. Their children? Acking Fudorable.
Uncertain Audience: Multiple critics attribute the film's divisive reception to attempting to appeal to both "Sci Fi Ghetto" fans of the original films and "true cinema" audiences that prefer The Last Jedi for deconstructing the genre and franchise.
Nobody expected Palpatine to have plot relevance in the film, just a Call-Back at most, until the teaser trailer at Star Wars Celebration 2019 ended with his signature cackling and the theater lights came on to reveal Ian McDiarmid.
Ian McDiarmid:[in Palpatine's voice] Roll it... again!
Han Solo (Harrison Ford), with no promotional teases or foreshadowing, appears as Kylo Ren's mental projection.
Voice cameos by animated characters Ahsoka Tano and Kanan Jarrus; film characters Qui-Gon Jinn, Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli, Mace Windu; and Obi-Wan Kenobi (voiced by both Alec GuinnessandEwan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Hayden Christensen).
Denis Lawson reprising his role as Wedge Antilles for a cameo was especially surprising, because he'd said before he would only return if it was for a leading role.note Max von Sydow's role in The Force Awakens was originally written as Wedge until Lawson declined to appear.
Since The Force Awakens, Kylo's actions towards Rey have been calledabusive, including within an article in the official Star Wars Insider magazine prior to this film's release which paralleled The Last Jedi with Lenore Walker's "cycle of abuse" model citation Star Wars Insider #193, "Resistance Reborn" by Tricia Barr, pages 50-55. Rey seemingly forgives or forgets his behavior when she kisses him, drawing negative reactions from viewers who see this as romanticizing or downplaying Kylo's stalking and violence.
There are some who feel Leia's storyline has unfortunate implications. She dies to provide motivation for her son (sacrificing herself in the third act leads to Kylo's HeelFace Turn), her legacy is failing until a man steps in and gets the job done (Lando persuades thousands of people to help the Resistance after her death), and the film reveals she gave up a career because of motherhood (ended her Jedi training because of a vision that her Jedi path would end with her son's death). However, it also has been pointed out that the writers were very limited in what they could accomplish with Leia, due to Author Existence Failure.
Aimee Hart: Sure, it's a shame that these women were introduced in order to make sure the two male leads look less like they were in love with one another it didnt work, by the way - but it's an even bigger shame for the women. Zorii Bliss and Jannah, two very different characters but connected to Poe and Finn in their own way, do not deserve to be written in a way that makes them as just a tool.
Rose's sidelining looks like Disney gave up on her character after the openly racist and misogynistic attacks that pushed her actress, Kelly Marie Tran, off social media. The filmmakers claimed that her screentime was cut due to technical issues with scenes incorporating Leia, but this doesn't explain why they cut Rose's scenes with Rey or why she was cut from merchandise. It was even speculated that Tran going on to be cast as the next Disney princess was basically an apology for this.
Viewers in Mourning: This film saw Kylo Ren/Ben Solo die shortly after a turn to the side of good. Many fans mourned his death, with many particularly attached fans insisting that He's Just Hiding! and begging for him to be brought back. Some Kylo/Ben fans responded by helping raise over $50,000 for Arts in the Armed Forces (a non-profit founded by Adam Driver).
Visual Effects of Awesome: As with its predecessors, one thing viewers unanimously agreed on is that the visual effects are topnotch and the film looks beautiful. Along with CGI, the film makes extensive and effective use of practical effects to create aliens and monsters.
The massive Final Order star destroyer fleet rising up from Exegol while lightning strikes around it.
The Galaxy Fleet shot is full of fan-favorites and consists of over 16,000 ships— it took ILM 8.4 million hours of processor time to render it!
WTH, Costuming Department?: While not the most ridiculous outfit in Star Wars, some viewers think that Zorii Bliss looks more like she's cosplaying as a sexy Power Ranger or a gender-swapped version of The Rocketeer than a tough gang boss, or that she forgot to put anything over thermal underwear; the outfit doesn't look like it would offer much protection in a battle or keep her particularly warm on Kijimi, the snowy planet she's based at.