Since it was rushed to meet the release dates Disney promised to its shareholders and two different filmmakers with completely different ideas patched it together, the Star Wars sequel trilogy doesn’t hold up as a finished piece in the same way that the prequel and original trilogies do. J.J. Abrams’ reliance on nostalgia drew accusations of playing it safe, while Rian Johnson’s radical new ideas proved to be even more controversial.
There were a lot of moments in the sequel trilogy that disappointed fans around the world, but there are also a few great scenes that brought the house down.
10 Most Disappointing: Yet Another Death Star
J.J. Abrams defended his decision to basically rehash the plot of A New Hope in The Force Awakens by saying he felt that Star Wars fans needed a familiar plot to introduce them to the new story, but that’s a total crock because it’s entirely derivative — there is no new story.
In The Force Awakens, following the victory at the end of Return of the Jedi, the First Order has taken the Empire’s place, the Resistance has taken the Rebellion’s place, and Rey has taken Luke’s place. The revelation that the First Order has its own Death Star that the rebels need to blow up was just insulting.
9 Most Satisfying: Han And Chewie Board The Falcon
When Rey and Finn are fleeing from Jakku, they steal the Millennium Falcon, outrun the TIE fighters chasing them, and then fun afoul of pirates who want to board the ship. But it’s okay because these pirates are the ship’s previous owners, Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Seeing them back on-screen together was a treat in itself. Every Star Wars fan got a warm, fuzzy feeling when Han said, “Chewie…we’re home.”
8 Most Disappointing: Luke Tosses His Father’s Lightsaber Away
Since J.J. Abrams loves his “mystery box” teases, he ended The Force Awakens on a cliffhanger, as Rey flies out to Ahch-To, finds an old, grizzled Luke Skywalker, and offers him his father’s lightsaber.
After fans spent two years trying to guess what would happen next, Rian Johnson established his bitter curmudgeon re-characterization of Luke at the beginning of The Last Jedi when Luke tosses the lightsaber over his shoulder.
7 Most Satisfying: Finn’s Lightsaber Duel With A Riot Control Stormtrooper
During the battle outside Maz Kanata’s castle in The Force Awakens, Finn wields a lightsaber for the first time and challenges a Stormtrooper to close combat.
The Stormtrooper whips out a Z6 riot control baton and engages Finn in a duel. This is one of the sequel trilogy’s most inventive and exciting action scenes.
6 Most Disappointing: Captain Phasma’s Unceremonious Death
When Captain Phasma was introduced in The Force Awakens, she was called the sequel trilogy’s answer to Boba Fett. This parallel turned out to be closer than anyone expected when, like Fett, Phasma was given a depressingly unceremonious death scene in The Last Jedi.
It makes sense that Phasma would be killed by Finn because she was his bureaucratic overlord for years, but it doesn’t make sense for him to kill her easily with a one-liner that made John Boyega himself cringe.
5 Most Satisfying: The Holdo Maneuver
Whether or not the ability to use hyperspace to ram one ship through another is in the Star Wars canon has been heavily debated since The Last Jedi’s divisive release, but the “Holdo Maneuver” is one heck of a movie moment.
Yes, Holdo could’ve told the Resistance her plan instead of making them think they were going to die, but the sacrifice is still spectacular.
4 Most Disappointing: “Somehow, Palpatine Returned.”
When J.J. Abrams was tasked with concluding the sequel trilogy, he decided to undo more of Return of the Jedi’s happy ending. After negating Darth Vader’s redemption with Kylo Ren’s Vader worship, he negated it even more with the resurrection of Emperor Palpatine.
And to explain how Palpatine came back from the dead, Abrams got Oscar Isaac, one of the greatest actors in the world, to utter the line, “Somehow, Palpatine returned.”
3 Most Satisfying: Luke’s Sacrifice
Throughout the first and second acts of The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker doesn’t seem very Luke Skywalker. He drinks alien milk, complains about his failure, and denounces the Jedi Order.
But in the third act, he finally seems like himself as he stands down the entire First Order and goads Kylo Ren into fighting him, giving the Resistance enough time to escape while Kylo figures out he’s a Force projection. It was a pretty heroic way for Luke to die, even if the movie as a whole lets down his character.
2 Most Disappointing: The Rise Of Skywalker’s Token Same-Sex Kiss
During the Resistance’s victory after the muddled final battle of The Rise of Skywalker, two random female characters are seen kissing. In the months leading up to the movie’s release, J.J. Abrams proudly noted that it would feature the franchise’s first LGBTQ representation.
This token kiss is the bare minimum for representation. It’s almost as bad as the MCU’s first openly gay character being a nameless support group member played by co-director Joe Russo in Avengers: Endgame.
1 Most Satisfying: The Throne Room Duel
On the whole, the sequel trilogy’s treatment of Supreme Leader Snoke was terrible. He was introduced as a store-brand Palpatine in The Force Awakens, then Rian Johnson wasn’t interested in explaining anything about him in The Last Jedi (in fact, the opposite seemed to be the case), then Snoke was brushed off as a creation of Palpatine’s in the plot hole-creating opening moments of The Rise of Skywalker.
But the duel in Snoke’s throne room, as Rey and Kylo Ren join forces to take on Snoke’s guards following his death, is pretty spectacular.