Reviews are in for 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' and it's not looking pretty

Ben Arnold

It looks like those mixed early responses to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker following its US premiere have translated into mixed reviews from critics.

The final chapter in the current trilogy, which has hurled together new characters Finn, Rey, Poe and Kylo, finds the galaxy and the resistance in peril, following the events of Rian Johnson's divisive The Last Jedi.

But many have noted that Johnson's storytelling has been largely cast aside – something noting in the early reactions – as director J.J. Abrams returns to the fold.

Read more: JJ Abrams on his one Force Awakens mistake

The film’s Rotten Tomatoes rating currently stands at a ‘Rotten’ 57% from 44 reviews counted, putting it in the region of a Phantom Menace-level critical kicking.

Even The Last Jedi ended up with 91 percent ‘fresh’, all told.

In a three-star notice from Empire, it finds that 'this story feel like a step backwards at times rather than a great leap forward, and to make the whole trilogy feel disjointed instead of just one film in it'.

“It looks gorgeous and offers strong performances from Driver and Ridley in particular, but ultimately the saga ends with neither a bang nor a whimper but something inbetween,” it goes on.

Daisy Ridley is Rey and Adam Driver is Kylo Ren in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

There are another three-stars from The Guardian, which calls Abrams' movie 'a laborious exit', noting that the cat and mouse set-up between Rey and Kylo Ren 'unfolds in a series of teases and false starts that almost border on wearisome'.

Read more: Rise of Skywalker characters could ‘spin off’

“This vast, hulking Star Destroyer of a franchise has become too cumbersome to pull off any genuinely nimble manoeuvres, but at the same time, it never falls out of the sky. Partly that’s a simple matter of momentum, but it is also a question of faith,” it concludes.

Some are less kind.

Vox calls Rise of Skywalker 'a colossal failure of imagination', in a pretty brutal 1.5 star notice.

Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in STAR WARS: EPISODE IX.

Dialogue is 'clunky, bad, and overly devoted to exposition', with the movie at large denounced simply as 'a bummer'.

“If I sound exhausted, it’s honestly because I am. Is this what audiences demand from franchise movies? Films that cater to what’s comfortable and capitulates to the most unimaginative fans? That feel as if they’re just ticking boxes on a checklist? You could say I’m taking this too seriously, but I think a series as important to movies — and to millions of people — as Star Wars deserves to be taken seriously,” it adds.

In another savage take, Slate says it’s ‘so bad it actually makes the trilogy worse’, accusing it of ‘capitulating to the franchise’s most toxic fans’.

“Rather than making a movie some people might love, Abrams tried to make a movie no one would hate, and as a result, you don’t feel much of anything at all,” it reckons.

Vanity Fair calls it 'too desperate to be loved to take any real risks', though critic Richard Lawson loved new character Babu Frik.

“I don’t think Rise of Skywalker is ill-intentioned, exactly - it’s not malevolent like some joyless tentpole films are. But it takes no pleasure in its own existence, weakly adding some cutesiness here and there to liven things up (mostly in the form of a new droid whose existence feels redundant at best) but otherwise shuffling around morosely as it does what it thinks it needs to, piteously unaware that it didn’t have to be like this,” it writes.

C3PO (Anthony Daniels), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in STAR WARS: EPISODE IX.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that the 'physical production' side of the movie, or the practical effects, are 'stupendous', but adds: “On a popular level, it succeeds in a way that good escapist fiction always has, by transporting you completely to a fabulous foreign realm unvisitable by any other means... But there are nagging problems that, while evident in the previous two entries, have become more pronounced now.”

Variety provides a more upbeat summation, however.

“What I can say is that The Rise of Skywalker is, to me, the most elegant, emotionally rounded, and gratifying Star Wars adventure since the glory days of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back,” writes critic Owen Gleiberman.

The Daily Telegraph’s Robbie Collin is also celebratory, saying in his four-star review that Abrams ‘gives our heroes the swashbuckling, heart-rending ending they deserve’.

The Rise of Skywalker completes a saga no one sane screenwriter would have dreamt up from scratch, but does so with such pluck and showmanship that the result feels strangely precious: a busked epic whose every individual move comes straight from the heart,” he adds.

Sadly, they seems to be rather in the minority.

Starring Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong'o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, and Billy Dee Williams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out across the UK on December 19.