Rise of Skywalker was problematic is various ways—not the least of which was letting J. J. Abrams, a man notorious for being great at nostalgia and setting up stories and abysmal at closing them, helm it. However, I’d like to take this opportunity to focus on one scene within the movie that personally just felt wrong.
Note: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker and Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
So, after the final climactic battle, the two characters, Rey and Ben Solo share a romantic kiss. Watching that moment, I felt a sense of de ja vu from back when I watched The Last Jedi and Finn and Rose kiss. It was awkward in The Last Jedi, but seeing the same sort of moment repeated in Rise of Skywalker just emphasized just how problematic it was. The moment felt tacked on and very… focus group approved. Like having two primary characters share a romantic kiss is something expected of big blockbuster movies. Some sort of unwritten rule that Hollywood execs believe must be followed for maximum profit.
Personally, the kiss scenes would have been fine if they were built to. If they were more organic and fit within the framework of the story until then, but they come out of nowhere. The kiss in Rise of Skywalker is even worse because it narrows the relationship between Rey and Ben to one of a purely romantic nature where a simple embrace would have been far more emotionally moving.
Having characters kiss in movies feels like the movie studio saying “Here you go. This is what you came here for, right?” It’s an overused trope that is at best pandering, and at worst insulting.