J.J. Abrams‘ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a lot of movie, as it attempts to bring a satisfying conclusion to a nine-episode saga while also feeling a full experience on its own. It also, very much, tries to be a rebuke to everything that filmmaker Rian Johnson and his collaborators accomplished on the previous film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Now, whether or not you love that movie (and I really, really do), The Last Jedi at least tried to continue the storyline from the previous film (Abrams’ The Force Awakens) while contributing new elements to the mythology and deepening the thematic concerns. It was genuinely different. If The Force Awakens was about luxuriating in nostalgia, then The Last Jedi was about moving beyond that; not to “kill it, if you have to” (in the words of Kylo Ren) but to learn from it and continually evolve. It was a message for the franchise too: if you’re too mired in the past, you’re going to be left behind.
Major spoiler warning (obviously).