'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker': Fitting, fan-pleasing end to a saga

  • Movie Review
  • Wednesday, 18 Dec 2019

Don't look now, Rey, but I think you're being stalked by a TIE fighter.

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong'o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, and Billy Dee Williams

First things first. I didn't hate Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (TROS). I just didn't love it as much as I thought, or wished, I did.

Anyway, here’s what I imagine the call Disney made to J.J Abrams to ask him to direct TROS was like.

Disney: Hey JJ, would you like to come back and direct the third movie?

JJ: what happened to that Colin guy?

Disney: Oh, he didn’t work out.

JJ: Why don't you just get that Rian guy to do it again?

Disney: Him? He went and did a bunch of stuff in The Last Jedi (TLJ) that got the fans mad.

JJ: So what do you want me to do?

Disney: Well, you know, the same old thing you did with The Force Awakens (TFA), get some of the old gang back, make sure there’s lots of Easter eggs to keep the fans happy... just nothing too drastic, OK?

And that, in my opinion, was how The Rise of Skywalker (TROS) was made.

I knew I should have called a Grab instead of a taxi.I knew I should have called a Grab instead of a taxi.

But before we get into more detail, here's the story so far. A year after the events of the much-maligned TLJ, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is now the Supreme Leader of the First Order, while Rey (Daisy Ridley) is continuing her Jedi training. Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (Jason Boyega) receive a message from a spy within the First Order that something big is coming, and is threatening the safety of the entire galaxy. So it is now up to General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher) and her Resistance to take the fight to the First Order once and for all.

On the surface, TROS is actually a fitting end to the Skywalker saga, which started in 1977 with Star Wars. It's fun, entertaining, action-packed, and ties up a lot of the loose ends in the entire Saga. It is also so chock-full of fan service Easter eggs and nods to the original trilogy that you'll be grinning with nostalgia almost every step of the way.

It just feels a little TOO safe, as though J.J. Abrams' brief was to try and undo everything Rian Johnson did with TLJ ("Can you believe he made Rey's parents a bunch of unknowns? How are we going to sell all those 'Rey's parents' toys now?"), and keep the hardcore fans as happy as possible.

While is still a massively entertaining space opera epic, TROS somehow feels... rehashed. In fact, that was exactly the way I felt when I watched The Force Awakens as well. As expected, Abrams has delivered a crowd-pleasing Star Wars movie that doesn't really try to push the envelop too much.

And THAT'S for calling my dad a scruffy nerf herder!"And THAT'S for calling my dad a scruffy nerf herder!"

Story-wise, the gang pretty much spends the entire movie going after one MacGuffin that is supposed to lead them to another MacGuffin that is supposed to lead them to an unreachable place. Abrams lightspeed skips through planet after planet so quickly that it sometimes feels like another item on his to-do list was to introduce as many alien characters and planets as possible ("JJ, make sure you get as many cool characters in as possible, even if they don't fit in the story. We need to sell more toys to make up for that Solo disaster").

One of the things I did find pleasing about the movie was how the new cast of characters have grown into their roles over the years. Ridley's Rey is a far cry from the young naive girl she once was, while her counterpart, Ren, has also grown a lot more menacing as a villain compared to the spoiled brat in TFA. Also, Boyega's Finn is no longer the confused former Stormtrooper he once was. It's still not clear what his exact role in the Resistance is, but his friendship with Poe is at least one of the film's redeeming factors.

Hey, don't mind us, this is just how we droids, er, roll.Hey, don't mind us, this is just how we droids, er, roll.

All the same, the so-called 'Legacy characters' are still the best part of the show. Abrams treats them with just the right amount of reverence and respect, with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) getting some long-overdue recognition for their parts in the entire Saga. Having Billy Dee Williams reprise his role as Lando Calrissian didn't hurt either.

For all my complaining about TROS, the fact remains that this is the final movie in what has been the core of the Star Wars franchise for 42 years. Abrams does just enough to get it over the line by tying up loose ends and giving fans what they want as much as possible. The result is a movie that is by far the most entertaining of this new trilogy, but plays it way too safe when it comes to pushing the franchise forward. Goodbye, Skywalker Saga, and may the Force be with you.

Yes, we still miss you too, Carrie.Yes, we still miss you too, Carrie.

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7.5 10


The Force is strong with this one... but just plays it a little too safe.

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