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  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • 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 seemingly was there after giving Poe her means to leave.
    • Ex-stormtrooper Jannah doesn't appear bothered about killing stormtroopers, and Finn continues to show no angst about it, despite knowing how stormtroopers are brainwashed and others 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, and Rey has little reaction to his death.
    • 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 Heel–Face 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 step-son.
  • 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. Fans theorized that Rey must be related to a previously-introduced character after The Force Awakens, then Kylo Ren confronted Rey and the audience in The Last Jedi with accepting that her parents were junk traders who sold her for money and are irrelevant to the story. Rian Johnson said learning she was "nobody" was the most devastating answer Rey could get and it seemed to be closure of this arc. The Rise of Skywalker instead reopens it by abruptly revealing that Rey is actually the granddaughter of Palpatine.
  • Ass Pull: See the franchise page.
  • Author's Saving Throw: See this film's entries on the franchise page.
  • Badass Decay:
    • While Palpatine's Force powers are visually more impressive than in his previous appearances, he's not nearly as cunning and manipulative, and he isn't as challenging in battle since he Came Back Wrong.
    • 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.
    • Enforced due to limitations of the repurposed footage from before Carrie Fisher's death, 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.
    • 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 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 brought back in to finish the trilogy on a tight timeline. And that's not even getting into questions left by this movie.
  • 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.
  • "Common Knowledge":
    • People assume that the Death Star II wreckage is on the Forest Moon of Endor, but it's on a nearby moon called Kef Bir.
    • The World Between Worlds isn't the afterlife of the Star Wars universe, contrary to "Save Ben Solo" tweets that Ben's spirit is there. It's actually a Void Between the Worlds where all of time and space is connected by paths and doorways. Characters cannot arbitrarily change time without consequences; if Rey uses the World Between Worlds to save Ben from dying, it would mean he never restored her life.
    • 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.
  • Complete Monster: See Palpatine's entry on the franchise page.
  • Contested Sequel: Audience and critical responses have reversed polarity from The Last Jedi, where critics generally scored the film higher than audiences did. On aggregate review sites, The Rise of Skywalker received critics' lowest scores among the franchise's live action films, while audience scores have been largely positive or mixed, depending on the site. For instance, the Rotten Tomatoes critic score is 52% and the audience score is 86%, but users scored it 6.8/10 on IMDb and 4.9/10 on Metacritic.
  • Continuity Lockout:
  • Critic-Proof: The film received a worse critical response than its predecessors, but still grossed over a billion dollars worldwide.
  • 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 children brainwashed 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.
  • Die for Our Ship: A lot of negative responses to Jannah and Zorii Bliss perceive them as Designated Implied Love Interests who were only included to "straighten" the Ho Yay of Fan-Preferred Couple Finn and Poe.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Fanworks portray Kylo Ren/Ben Solo as a hero who's brainwashed into being a villain, often just needing romantic love to make him better; more heroic than the film protagonists; 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. 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. The Rise of Skywalker is marketed as the Grand Finale of the whole "Skywalker Saga," it also ends eight previous films in an underwhelming manner. These viewers say they won't invest in the "Disney Trilogy," and they'll stop watching after Return of the Jedi or substitute it with the Legends continuation.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Allegiant General Enric Pryde quickly became popular thanks to his portrayal by Richard E. Grant and being a No-Nonsense Nemesis who is extremely ruthless and efficient.
    • 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.
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • 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.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • 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 Heel–Face 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.
  • Fan-Disliked Explanation:
    • 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 in Rey's parents from 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 making their Parental Abandonment an intentional choice makes them none too bright, as there are many better ways they could've gone about hiding Rey. Kylo's explanation 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 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 a definitive answer. People also question 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 a subset of 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).
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: 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.
  • Franchise Original Sin: See this film's entries on the franchise page.
  • Ham and Cheese: If you've come to see Ian McDiarmid villainously hamming it up once again as Palpatine regardless of how good or bad the film ends up being, you're in the right place.
  • He's Just Hiding!:
    • 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 simply is 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 have expressed that had the movie been given an extra half-hour, the movie could have been able to wrap up some of the plotlines more naturally and used it 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.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!:
    • 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.
    • The Force Awakens, also by J. J. Abrams, previously had a plotline searching for a map to a planet in the Unknown Regions.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:
    • 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.
    • Some fans who weren't enthusiastic after The Last Jedi and Solo led to a Broken Base only see this movie to once more see Ian McDiarmid gloriously ham it up as Emperor Palpatine.
    • To a lesser extent, people went to see what would become of Princess Leia now that Carrie Fisher had passed away.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • Chewbacca appears to get blown up, Rey is horrified at causing it, and audiences split between this reaction and horror that the film really did that. Minutes later, the film confirms they didn't; he's alive and imprisoned.
    • C-3PO's memory is erased halfway through the film, rendering him unable to recall any of the characters, but R2-D2 provides him with a backup later.
    • Almost no one believed that Rey was going to stay dead after defeating Palpatine.
    • Kylo has a brush with death when Rey nearly kills him on Kef Bir, but shortly afterward she heals the would-be fatal injury and he makes a Heel–Face Turn. Death averted! Except then he gives his life to revive Rey.
  • Lost in Medias Res: Film criticisms commonly cite its breakneck pace, 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: Palpatine has somehow returned, was secretly behind everything in the Sequel Trilogy, and has a massive new fleet of planet-destroying Star Destroyers.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Kylo Ren is intended to be a sympathetic and compelling character rather than a Card-Carrying Villain. J. J. Abrams, Rian Johnson and Adam Driver developed Kylo Ren as a complex character still evolving as a villain after a history of being targeted for conditioning by Snoke and feeling abandoned by his busy family. Driver describes Kylo as a religious fanatic or radicalised extremist who thinks in absolute terms, and doesn't believe he needs redemption because he's convinced he's morally justified. This makes Kylo "more dangerous" and "scarier" than if he was just "evil." Supplementary novels and comics continue building more tragedy and depth in his past. Fandom takes great interest in him; every comic issue of his backstory sold out on release day. Driver's portrayal of post-Heel–Face Turn Ben Solo entertained many viewers who previously disliked Kylo or wished he'd been the Big Bad. His fanbase hopes for more content featuring Ben/Kylo prior to his death.
    The misaimed fans go beyond loving Kylo Ren as a redeemed villain or their favorite character. They're invested in Ben Solo as the ''hero'' of the trilogy. His unrealized potential and sympathetic qualities matter far more than his choices and actions. They defend his actions as justified or out of his control because of victimization by Snoke, Palpatine, his unloving family, and a galaxy that hates him; he had no choice. They believe he makes mistakes like killing people and oppressing the galaxy, but just wants ''love'' instead of power over himself and everyone else. They're Viewers in Mourning who believe Ben's death turns his story into a pointless tragedy full of Unfortunate Implications and Family Unfriendly Aesops 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.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • 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.
    • When we finally hear the voices of past Jedi coming to Rey in her time of need. The voices we hear include: Anakin Skywalker, Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Luminara Unduli, Aayla Secura, Adi Gallia and Kanan Jarrus.
    • The thunderous bass drop when Palpatine blasts the Resistance fleet with a giant pillar of Force lightning.
  • Narm: See this film's entries on the franchise page.
  • Narm Charm: See this film's entries on the franchise page.
  • Older Than They Think: Many ideas in this film were used in Star Wars Legends:
    • 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 had a grandchild in the young reader book series starting with The Glove of Darth Vader, though this was undone in a Continuity Snarl.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • 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 only his head. His appearance also introduces a new alien species Ovissian who has a rather unique design. Being voiced by Mark Hamill also helps.
    • The dark side version of Rey only appears briefly, in a vision aboard the wreck of the second Death Star, but she makes quite the impression.
    • Harrison Ford returns as Han Solo, who posthumously manages to complete his wayward son's Heel–Face 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.
  • Relationship Writing Fumble:
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: C-3PO became a Base-Breaking Character in The Empire Strikes Back for being a shrill worrywart that never shuts up and constantly rattles off unfavorable statistics, and had been a wasted presence since Revenge of the Sith. In this film, he's not only more prominent to the plot but many reviewers and fans say he's Actually Pretty Funny; some say this is the best use of C-3PO in all the saga.
  • Shocking Moments:
    • The wreck of the Death Star II returns, and by extension, the Endor system!
    • "Dark Rey" wielding a double-bladed red lightsaber.
    • Rey's true lineage is revealed and she's a Palpatine.
  • Shocking Swerve:
    • Rey is Palpatine's granddaughter. There were no explicit hints that they were related and Palpatine previously had no known relatives in this continuity. Only a few fans had theorized this possibility after The Force Awakens, primarily based on Rey's lightsaber technique and notes of her theme compared to Palpatine's; this was considered a fringe theory compared to Rey as a Solo, Skywalker, Kenobi, or "nobody." The twist comes off as a retcon of The Last Jedi presenting Rey's parents as random junk traders who didn't care about her.
    • Hux becoming a mole for the Resistance after he was consistently depicted as a fanatical supporter of the First Order with ambitions to rule it. The only explanation he gives for betraying his life's work and helping his enemies is hating Kylo Ren and wanting him to lose even if it means the Resistance wins.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Many reviewers and fans agree that the film isn't necessarily bad, per se, but its crammed plot and lack of creative twists make it a disappointment for those who expected better after the previous two films.
  • Special Effect Failure: Most of the movie's visual effects are beautiful and impressive. That said...
    • 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 after the events of The Return of the Jedi, young Leia is obviously CGI and fans easily identified the scene referenced for her expression. Many fans joke that she seems to have come out of the video game Star Wars: Battlefront.
    • 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.
  • Squick:
  • 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. Kylo physically and psychically stalks Rey, painfully invades her mind, kills and attacks people she cares about, and battles her multiple times, culminating in almost killing her on Kef Bir before Leia intervenes. Despite all of this giving Rey valid reasons to hate Kylo and want him dead, in this film she heals him after she stabs him in the stomach, and kisses him after he revives her.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: See this film's entries on the franchise page.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: See this film's entries on the franchise page.
  • 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 ass alongside 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.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously:
    • Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley both give genuine performances that are frequently cited as the highlight of the movie. Driver in particular has been praised for convincingly portraying a post-Heel–Face 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 on her own. Finn and Jannah catch up to Rey fiercely dueling with Kylo Ren. Finn can't do anything to assist her, and she Force-pushes him back which ensures he doesn't endanger himself trying. His actions don't advance the story or develop his characterization.
  • 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.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • 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 Guinness and Ewan 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 
  • Unfortunate Implications:
    • Since The Force Awakens, Kylo's actions towards Rey have been called abusive, 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 . Rey seemingly forgives or forgets his behavior when she kisses him, drawing negative reactions from viewers who see this as implying Kylo's stalking and violence is romantic instead of abusive.
    • Leia's storyline has sexist implications. She dies to provide motivation for a man (sacrificing herself in the third act leads to Kylo's Heel–Face 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).
    • New female characters Zorii Bliss and Jannah have little plot significance, and they're largely defined by their relationships to male characters. Zorii is a New Old Flame to Poe; Jannah is an Implied Love Interest to Finn and is loosely hinted to be related to Lando. Audiences think they were created just to give Poe and Finn love interests besides each other.
      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 &endash; – it didn’t work, by the way &endash; 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.
    • Viewers have pointed out that since Poe is the first Latino lead in the Star Wars franchise, expanding or changing his backstory to make him a former spice (drug) smuggler comes with some unfortunate racial baggage.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • 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!
  • What an Idiot!: See this film's entries on the franchise page.


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