J.J. Abrams takes back the director’s chair of one of the world’s most beloved science fiction franchises with Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker, Disney’s final entry into the Skywalker Saga.
After receiving a transmission that appears to be from the thought-dead Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) travels to the Sith homeworld of Exegol with the help of a Sith Wayfinder. The Emperor informs him that Rey (Daisy Ridley) is not who everyone believes and that he must kill her. As a reward, he will gift Kylo a massive army he has been building since the battle of Endor that is powerful enough to conquer the known galaxy.
Rey is being trained by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), but after being informed of the fleet by a spy, she goes on a quest to find it and stop it. Heading out with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), and BB-8, they travel to find the fleets’ secret location. After meeting with Lando (Billy Dee Williams), they find a Sith dagger that may contain a clue to a second Wayfinder, but it also unlocks some memories in Rey that could alter her destiny.
Once again, Disney and LucasFilm step it up in with the technical side. John Williams composes an incredible score that is unmatched when it comes to Star Wars. Dan Mindel, who also worked with Abrams on Star Trek: Into Darkness (among others), handled the cinematography and it was spot on. Whether in space or on the ground, the scenes looked incredible. Both of these matched the visual effects which were top-notch and served to compliment the film instead of overtaking. Same with the character design. They went back to basics with the aliens, giving them a more realistic feel.
The problem lies in the story. The first act is incredibly choppy, working to undo the mistakes made in The Last Jedi. In fact, except for a few key plot points, the movie almost completely retcons elements that Rian Johnson put into the Star Wars mythos. This is a good thing, but it also somewhat splits the movie into two. You feel like the first thirty to forty-five minutes is Abrams’ own attempt at the second entry into the saga. After that, the movie does somewhat pick up the pace.
The second part of the movie focuses on Rey and her development into a powerful Jedi. Early on, we see her training under the tutelage of Leia, but The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi made such a big deal of how powerful she is, you wonder what the point of these scenes are. This is not a slight on Daisy Ridley, she is perfect for the role of Rey, but bad writing plagues her. Speaking of which, there is a twist on her character that was really needed earlier in this trilogy. It feels late to the game, but at least it’s interesting.
As for Kylo Ren, his character development is good, but again, it feels delayed. He became the character he needed to be in earlier in Star Wars. This time, it feels incredibly quick and not enough focus is given to him as the Supreme Leader of the First Order or his cohorts the Knights of Ren.
With the new characters, they were where they needed to be. They were supporting and with the mistakes from TLJ erased, they actually grew into likable roles that were there for back-up, becoming the folks they should have been from the beginning. Too little, too late.
The absence of the classic Star Wars characters was felt to the Nth degree. While the CGI Leia served a purpose, it felt mechanical instead of enduring. With Luke and Han gone, there was an empty presence. Chewy, Lando, Palpatine, and the droids tried to pick up the slack, but it was not up to the task. That is not to say Palpatine was not good as the main antagonist, he was, but it seemed last minute.
That was the problem with the movie. It all felt last minute. Perhaps it was a tepid apology from Disney for almost destroying the franchise, but ultimately it was like The Force Awakens, just mediocre. They patched together a movie that was meant to serve as a finale, but it was not the ending of the Skywalker Saga the audiences or the fans needed. If this movie had been the second in the series, instead of the final act, it would have served a better purpose, especially if Luke, Han, and Leia were still alive. Since that was not the case, they had to bridge ideas from Abrams’ work and from even from the story by original director Colin Trevorrow, who was fired before production.
Bottom line, you walk away from The Rise Of Skywalker saying, “That was interesting,” but nothing else. It should have been placed in the center of the trilogy instead of Rian “Ruin” Johnson’s heartbreaking entry and then teed up an epic finale that everyone could not only have somewhat enjoyed but applauded.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Foul language, Disturbing images, Sci-fi violence
FAVORITE QUOTE: We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight.
Check out the movie trailer below:
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