Nostalgia, battle sequences likely enough to send longstanding
fans home happy with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:
Then again, the presence of the previously thought to be deceased Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) may change both of their plans forever if he has his way.
THE REVIEW: You have four types of people when it comes to Star Wars: (1) The uninitiated/unconcerned, a.k.a. the people who have ever never seen a Star Wars movie, don’t care to see another Star Wars movie and/or don’t even know The Rise of Skywalker is here; (2) The relatively familiar – people who have seen one or two of the films, most likely the “original” three from the 1970s and 80s and are good with that; (3) the generally knowledgeable – they’ve seen all the films, but are not dedicated fans who can rattle of planet names or easter eggs from one film to the next; (4) the Comic Book Guys (or Girls). So named for The Simpsons-inspired character inspired in part by Star Wars-obsessive fans, they are protective of the franchise the way parents are a first-born child, love and hate different aspects of the series with the passion of a young Olympic boxer pursuing a gold medal and know so much Jedi/Sith trivia they would make Ken Jennings Jeopardy run look like child’s play.So, that all being said, as someone who falls into category 3 and knows plenty of people that fit into categories one, two and four, my spoiler free assessment of the last installment in the main Star Wars canon is this: Episode IX (nine for those who don’t remember their Roman numerals), while not perfect, contains enough positives to satisfy the people in the last two groups while perhaps making those in the first two groups curious enough to at least wonder what all the hype is about.
The previous Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, is a divisive issue among the hardcore fans as for as many people loved it, just as many seemingly did not – leading to it to serve as an “OK Boomer”-style case study in letting go of old things vs. embracing new possibilities. (You can read more about that here, here and here. Abrams has shared his thoughts on the matter extensively.) Whether that unconsciously (not likely) or consciously (most likely) played a factor in J.J. Abrams’ approach to the final installment may be up for debate, it won’t feel like it watching The Rise of Skywalker as the film tries to bridge a nostalgia gap for the old guard of fans while finishing the new work.
Here’s what most of you will care to know in regards to the actual quality of the film: The action sequences work well, Ridley proves herself capable of earning the massive responsibility her character is thrust into, Driver makes his character more than a Darth Vader clone and the classic elements of good vs. evil – complete with dad jokes aplenty courtesy of C-3PO. There are sky battles, ground battles, journeys across the galaxy to find missing pieces of information, character revelations, homages to the past … It’s a basic 2-and-a-half hour blowout of the things most fans have come to enjoy about the franchise.
Yes, it would be nice if Fisher hadn’t passed away before the filming finished (luckily for Abrams the cut footage from previous films fits in nicely). Likewise, some people may take issue with the incorporation of past characters into the film and their usage and the Palpatine situation may serve as the stuff of blogs and YouTube videos for many eons to come. Then again, when you’ve got over 40 years’ worth of cinematic history coming to an end, there is no way you’re going to satisfy everyone.
But, much like everyone’s favorite little green friend re-invented as a child on Disney+ once famously said, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Thus, if you don’t embrace some change over the course of nine films, you’ve probably missed what Abrams and company have attempted to do: Deliver a fitting end to a story with plenty of history while giving it some fresh life along the way. After all, one must “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Keeping that sage-like wisdom will likely send most longstanding fans home happy from this galaxy to the next.