Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now playing in theaters from Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams. Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher and more — here is my spoiler free review!
The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more as Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron’s journey continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences.
The final chapter of the most famous sci-fi franchise of all time (or just franchise in general, let’s be honest) is here and it does NOT disappoint. Episode 9, The Rise of Skywalker, the conclusion to the 40-plus year Star Wars saga is both the most action-packed entry in the series and a fitting conclusion that is sure to please true fans who grew up loving Star Wars.
Director J.J. Abrams had such a difficult task in picking up the fragmented story pieces from the previous film in the franchise after director Rian Johnson took several liberties and unique creative decisions that posed more questions without answering anything that had been plotted beforehand in episode VII ‘The Force Awakens’. The Last Jedi was a beautiful film and features what I believe to be the most gorgeous action sequence of the franchise (the Kylo + Rey Snoke throne room fight), but that film hit the brakes in terms of overall plot development. Because of that, you may notice that the first half of The Rise of Skywalker is a tad INSANELY PACED. You will literally be hopping from planet to planet and explosion to explosion at such a breakneck pace that you’ll be wondering if Michael Bay killed J.J and directed this movie instead.
The film starts off in a frenzy and it takes about 30 minutes or so to calm the F down and let us soak in what the hell is happening. Once the film finds it’s footing however (during an incredible showdown in the desert between Rey and Kylo), then you begin to feel that magic once again and after that happens, it doesn’t let up for the rest of the movie. You can breathe a sigh of relief from this moment on people – trust me. Characters that may not have had much of a chance to shine in the previous chapter, manage to deliver their best performances of the trilogy here as John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are firing on all cylinders. Their onscreen chemistry reminded me a lot of Luke and Han Solo from the original trilogy to be honest – aka – you can tell they were actually having fun making the movie and that resonates onscreen. It was nice to see that energy back in their characters. Adam Driver is a beast as always and even with the helmet being brought back, his performance is never robotic and the raw emotions he brings to that character of Kylo Ren makes for one of the most fascinating arcs in the series. In fact, I would say he was by far the most interesting character here, but Daisy Ridley is so damn impressive as Rey, that it’s hard to deny that she steals the show, trilogy and in the end – perhaps the entire franchise. Her performance is Awards worthy, which is almost a shame because there’s no way in Hell this film garners any of that kind of attention.
It’s difficult to talk much about the film without spoiling it, but I will say that yes, Emperor Palpatine is indeed back and he’s more terrifying than ever. It was a nice touch J.J. had bringing this villain back into the fold to bookend the saga. We’ve seen several classic heroes return, and yes LANDO IS BACK too (he was wonderful), but it’s nice to see a familiar evil face return as well and Palpatine is unleashed in episode IX. Hot damn those fingers and eyes…. Yeesh. His return is what drives the main plot of this movie, which is that the Sith legions are amassing an army so big and scary that the dwindling Rebellion has to resort to last ditch efforts to even try and attempt to stop what’s coming. PS – the final battle here is wonderful and I don’t even care that there are space horses running on ships – I dig that shit. Give me more space horses in SPAAAAAAACE!
Breaktime – Let’s give Anthony Daniels the credit he deserves. Not only is this his best performance to date as C3P0, but he actually has something important to do for once rather than being limited to an annoying backdrop in a couple scenes. Daniels has one of the most emotional lines in the film and it’s a beautiful thing to see C3P0 shine this much when so many fans tend to just ignore the character as much as they can these days.
Carrie Fisher’s final onscreen performance… Yes this is the last time we will see our beloved General Leia and considering that J.J. had to use leftover footage to try and send this character off into the sunset – holy shit did he ever pull off a miracle there. You can tell in some scenes where the character is hidden in shadows that there’s a stand-in etc, but overall J.J. did a tremendous job paying tribute to Fisher and Leia’s legacy. I loved the little moment where Rey refers to her as master during some training in the forest. You’re damn right she is.
Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker may not be the best of the franchise (you know what – it’s tied with The Force Awakens as the best in the franchise soooooo – suck on that), but it’s a damn fine ending to the wackiest science fiction tale ever told. Aside from the jarring first 30 minutes or so, Episode IX is a thrilling and emotional tale that will resonate with fans who have grown up with these characters their entire lives. You can’t please everybody, but I’ll be damned if J.J. didn’t try and I think he needs to be commended for that. His work here will likely go underappreciated by legions of goons who think this film was made to only service fanboys, but I didn’t get that feeling whatsoever. The Rise of Skywalker isn’t just some nostalgic riddled nonsense, it’s a love letter to the fans and I don’t know why anyone would consider that a negative. If you love Star Wars, you’ll love this movie and that’s all that matters. Thank you George Lucas for starting this wild ride before I was born and thank you J.J. for wrapping it all up as best you could.