If you thought Avengers: Endgame was locked in as the most epic movie of 2019, hold onto your butts because here comes a last-minute contender. The Rise of Skywalker is an often insanely gorgeous feast for the eyes and ears, shows the characters we've watched for two movies finally coming into their own as the heart of this trilogy, and mostly manages the Herculean task of being a satisfying conclusion to both the sequels and the Skywalker saga as a whole. The sequels finally break free from borrowing endless original trilogy plot points and beats to provide a climax that feels like something new, while still paying homage to everything that came before.
That said, it's not flawlessly executed. It's painfully obvious that they didn't have enough Carrie Fisher footage for the role she needed to play in this story. They do their best with what they had, but a key scene in the middle really needed something more, and suffers for the lack of it, making an important twist unconvincing. Another problem is that this movie's new characters feel superfluous; I'm struggling to remember them doing anything significant. Then there's the overuse of strobe lighting in the climax, which gets exhausting afer a while.
The final problem is more personal preference, and will depend on how you felt about The Last Jedi.
With those complaints out the way, there's a lot to like here. If you're a C-3PO fan, this is the funniest and most present he's been since Empire. Rey has finally matured into a compelling protagonist, and having this trilogy's heroes all go on an adventure together in the first half is great fun. The variety of action and the sheer scale of certain scenes are impressive (most impressive). I'd say this is a superior movie to The Force Awakens, thanks to it carving out its own identity and being a satisfying capstone to the series. I can't emphasise the importance of that last point enough. We saw with Game of Thrones just how much damage a weak conclusion can do to an overall work, regardless of its quality up to that point, and JJ really sticks the landing here.