So... I saw the Rise of Skywalker this morning.
Where do I even begin with this? Well, I'd have to say I enjoyed it more than The Last Jedi, but, as Dom said, that's a low bar to clear.
It is painfully obvious this movie is a course correction following the events of The Last Jedi. Not that that's a bad thing in itself, considering I felt that movie was the wrong direction that did very little to actually develop any of the characters or story, but it forces this movie make up for it, and a lot of it doesn't really work well as a result, at a breakneck pacing. Palpatine's return makes no sense. He acknowledges that he died, but his return his hand-waved away as "unnatural abilities" granted to him from the Dark Side of the Force. Let's face it, the only reason why he's back is because Snoke was a terrible villain, and Kylo Ren was never actually going to be the big bad (and the Knights of Ren, who finally are present in this film still really don't do anything). I do like that they finally gave Snoke some backstory, although it also feels like a half-assed explanation. He's a clone, that the Emperor created as nothing more than a puppet to lead the First Order while he created the Final Order in secret. I mean, I guess that works. But it begs to question, if Snoke was a clone, what happened to the original? And why would the Emperor need a dozen more Snoke clones? And why would the Emperor need two fleets (both the First and Final Orders) capable of controlling the galaxy? Where did the Emperor even get the man power to build and operate hundreds (if not thousands) of Star Destroyers on a hidden planet that you can only find with one of the two Sith Way Finders in existence?
So the movie becomes mostly a MacGuffin hunt, as Rey realizes Luke left a note in one of the Jedi books about a clue to one of the way finders that he, and Lando, had apparently left to find in the first place. Why Lando stayed behind while Luke went on to Ahch-to, the movie does not explain. I've heard the Visual Dictionary explains he had a daughter that was kidnapped by the First Order, and so he decided not to leave that planet... which you'd think would be an important detail that should have been in the film considering she apparently is the former Stormtrooper he seems to be hitting on at the end of the film. Anyway, meanwhile, Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren are on a mission to kill Rey so the Emperor will just hand him control of the Final Order which obviously they both plan to double cross each other. Eventually the heroes find an ancient Sith dagger that C-3PO is forbidden to speak... for reasons the movie also fails to explain (which for the amount of time they spend on explaining he has forbidden language directive, you'd think they could have thrown in a line or something that it had become a law or some-such during the Emperor's reign). So they have to wipe his memory so he can speak it... not that it has any weight to it since they establish R2 keeps a back up for him (same goes for Chewbacca's "death" since they quickly show he didn't actually die either, which begs to question why even bother with the fake out).
The dagger eventually leads them to the debris of the Death Star II (which really shouldn't be so large from what we saw of it exploding in ROTJ), where they dagger somehow conforms to the shape of the debris to point them in the right direction to find the second way finder. I guess the Sith that made the dagger could have foreseen this would happen through the Force, but again, something the movie doesn't explain. Kylo amid their confrontations in the film tells Rey that one of her parents was Palpatine's kid, and made themselves nobodies that "sold her for drinking money" to protect her from Palpatine. I really expected Kylo to tell her he told her the truth "from a certain point of view", but oddly this was the one time they didn't directly stea....reference something from the original trilogy. As an aside, while I appreciate they tried to incorporate Carrie Fisher into this film, I don't really feel it worked very well. I did like the send off they gave her, and her final act helping to redeem her son here, but her scenes felt wooden since they were forcing scenes she'd filmed for the other films to work here. But it is unfortunately what it is due to the circumstances. I also have to wonder... Wouldn't whoever Palpatine's child was have been strong in the Force, since we saw with the Skywalkers, the ability to use the Force remains strong within families? Why did Palpatine decide to skip a generation? I'm also forced to assume Han Solo's appearance is somehow the result of Leia's Force projection, despite having died (although her body also doesn't disappear until Ben Solo dies and disappears as well so...), but this is yet another thing the movie does not explain.
Turns out the Emperor wanted Rey brought to him all along (despite sending Kylo to kill her in this film, or Snoke telling Kylo to kill her in his throne room in the previous film) so that she can kill him. Apparently this will allow him to possess her body in some Sith ritual? Doesn't really make sense to me with the established rule of two the Sith have but anyway... When Kylo shows up, and the Emperor realizes she and Kylo are a dyad (I guess this dyad thing is also supposed to explain how they can teleport things to each other while "Force Skypeing"? The movie never explains this ability. I just kept hearing Han Solo yelling "That's not how the Force works!" in my head for how they portray the Force in this film...), he's able to restore his own body instead. Powered up by all the previous Jedi voices urging her on though, Rey kills him by turning his own force lighting against him with the Skywalker lightsabers (I guess he didn't learn when Mace Windu did the same thing to him in ROTS). Shouldn't he still be able to possess her body at this point? Well, for what ever the reason the movie doesn't explain, that doesn't happen. Rey dies for no apparent reason, allowing the redeemed Ben Solo to Force heal her, only to die himself (there is a feeble explanation Force healing uses some of the users own lifeforce, although it doesn't seem to really affect Rey when she'd healed him after their battle at the Death Star II debris). And so with the Emperor defeated.... again, the galaxy celebrates and Rey, having rejected the Palpatine legacy, takes the family name Skywalker as her own instead, seemingly with the approval of the Force ghosts of Luke and Leia.
I'm sure I could go on about this film and this Trilogy, but to sum things up... This entire Trilogy was a mess. As I said, I did like this film more the The Last Jedi, but these were easily the worst two Star Wars films IMO. I tend to give The Force Awakens a little more leeway, but really that's only because it had the benefit of being the first of the new Trilogy, needing to set things up for the other two films. Unfortunately, it's painfully clear they didn't have, or follow, any definitive plans to make this Trilogy flow like they should have. So it comes off feeling very disjointed, and does a huge disservice to Star Wars as a whole in how it handled the plot and characters.