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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Movie Review

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

If one of the final moments of director J. J. Abrams Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker - two lightsabers sinking into the sands of Tattooine - hits you rather hollow, it is by the director’s choice.  The Skywalker Saga is over with this film, but what’s shocking is that it really doesn’t feel like it has all the emotions in check that it should when those twin suns are back blazing on the screen.  I didn't feel it.  I felt relief instead.  Once again, just thankful that it didn't suck.

Maybe your reaction will be different.

"There is no other ending to the Skywalker Saga than the one we have just been given"


Either way, Abrams gives Star Wars fans an ending that puts together all the pieces that some people - specifically, the fanboys who went to the internet to crap on The Last Jedi - feared were gone for good.  (No, no, they weren’t.  You just weren’t paying attention.)  The final film in the saga is pretty exciting, full of all our old heroes, and has some things that we've never seen before.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really give us the lumps in the throat that the scenes with Luke and Yoda and Luke with R2D2 (all from The Last Jedi) did.  

And that puzzles me.  Abrams has the humor down and gives us plenty to chuckle at, he just clams up when it comes to allowing us to feel the real heart of the story . . . even when we finally understand - in the film's closing moment - what the title means.  There, in the distance. Is that?  IT IS! 

Maybe our new heroes just weren't allowed enough time to develop . . . too much running around.  

When there is real emotion - especially upon the passing of Leia (Carrie Fisher), who has helped the beloved Rey become even stronger with The Force - the camera doesn’t dwell on Chewbacca’s raw reaction.  It’s a great moment for the character and shows just how sick and tired he is of all the death of his friends.  But Abrams lets the moment go by too soon . . . and it is like that for a lot of the scenes that deal with emotion.  Maybe Abrams doesn't want to let go either. I know I don't, but it is time.  So, please, let Chewie howl with sadness.  Moments like that one are few and far between here. 

What we do get, unfortunately, are far too many romantic teases as new characters are introduced . . . and one UNNECCESARY kiss.Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Perhaps the reactions stirred up by Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi are still way too raw.  I know my friends are still talking about the genre subversions that Johnson put into his film.  But here’s the thing, The Rise of Skywalker is NOT the course correction some audiences - myself included - feared it could potentially be.  It actually delivers on what Johnson set forth: Leia IS strong in the force, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is (sorta) born from nobodies (by choice, I’ll let the film explain), Luke didn’t take his X-Wing from Anch-To for a reason explained here, the connection between Kylo Ren and Rey is strong and that is explained, Luke tossing his lightsaber over his shoulder is commented on here, and so on.  Some things are explained, some questions go unanswered, but The Last Jedi remains standing tall and The Rise of Skywalker paves the way for a lot more Force Sensitives out in the galaxy to be heroes which is probably the direction that Disney wants to take Star Wars, now freed from George Lucas.

Opening with a series of scattershot of action scenes that gives us a vague reason for Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and The Knights of Ren to be traversing the galaxy in search of something that has to do with assisting the Sith, Episode IX doesn’t calm down and develop its story until it hits what feels like the 30-minute mark.  That’s about the time that Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) - wearing something VERY, VERY familiar that Star Wars fans will appreciate - saves Rey, Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac) from the mess they are in.  It’s a fun and wild ride, and we finally, once we understand just what the Knights of Ren are doing, land in a place where the story can unfold.

What follows is the last stand as the remnants of the Resistance face down the First Order one more time.  This time, though, the First Order has some extra help from an old nemesis.  You’ve heard his laughter in the trailer and, with this film, you finally get to see why his voice is still echoing throughout the galaxy.  And, no, he is definitely not a ghost . . . but he has an army ready to fight for the Sith to return.  They just need a worthy vessel with which to do his dirty work.  Is it Kylo?  Is it Rey?  Is it someone else? 

There are lightsaber duels - although nothing quite like what we saw in Snope’s demise - and a balance is re-created thanks to sacrifices from both old and new heroes.

The BIG thing is that Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio actually PAY OFF on The Last Jedi threads and, by inserting a "resurrected" Palpatine (once again played by Ian McDiarmid), we have a Return of the Jedi connection that the film ties into as Abrams pays homage to what went before in the previous trilogy.  But, as is his way, he, unfortunately, tries to one-up that film with a congested space battle finale that is twice as big as the one that took place while Vader saved Luke from Palpatine.  Is it necessary?  Probably not, but - when it comes to Star Wars (considering that his previous entry, The Force Awakens, is, while exciting, a retread of A New Hope) what else are you going to do? When you try to do something different, fans shake the heavens with RAGE.

The answer then is to play it safe and make everyone feel satisfied by an ending that brings back all the main characters from the middle/classic trilogy, gives Rey a meaningful past, steep it in nostalgia, and let it cool a bit.  That’s what The Rise of Skywalker does.  It’s not bold.  It is expected, but it is satisfying . . . even if fans of Kylo Ren are not going to be happy with how he is handled.  He recreates his helmet and then . . . and then . . . well, you'll see.Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Secrets are revealed, scars are healed, lots of Force voices are heard, and everyone gets a love interest (ugh), but - if you just sit back and enjoy the "light speed skipping" that is invented here - The Rise of Skywalker is a serviceable ending to a saga that has had its fair share of ups and downs.  Remember the prequels? We've come along way from the days of that "near-sighted pile of scrap metal" and this trilogy - with The Last Jedi as the strongest film in its arc - feels complete.  While the internet is going to go crazy over the lightsaber chucking events and all the new force sensitives found within The Rise of Skywalker, just relax. At the end of the day, this is all just a space-set soap opera that is supposed to be a whole lot of fun . . . which it is.

Be one with The Force and accept The Rise of Skywalker as it is: a finale that no one should be offended by.  There is no other ending to the Skywalker Saga than the one we have just been given. Accept it or, better yet, write your own story.  Make that movie and set in another galaxy far, far away . . . 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20th.

3/5 stars

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Blu-ray

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Available on Blu-ray

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action.
Runtime:
141 mins
Director
: J.J. Abrams
Writer:
J.J. Abrams; Chris Terrio
Cast:
Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Billie Lourd
Genre
: Action | Sci-fi
Tagline:
The saga concludes.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi. Your destiny."
Theatrical Distributor:
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Official Site: https://www.starwars.com/films/star-wars-episode-ix-the-rise-of-skywalker
Release Date:
December 20, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

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