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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (12A)
Running time 2hr 21mins
Rating: ****

THE epic space-opera story 42 years in the making has finally come to its conclusion. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of the Skywalker Saga, a worldwide cultural phenomenon made up of nine films across three different
trilogies. Expectations for the ninth film were undoubtedly high, from both dedicated fans and relative newcomers.

For me, Star Wars has always had a place in my heart. Whenever I went to my grandparents’ house when I was young I’d pop in one of the videos and lose myself in the sci-fi world of the Jedi, the rebellion and the empire. So as a big fan, I was excited, apprehensive and thrilled to see how it would all end.

What The Rise of Skywalker delivers is, in essence, a mixed bag. What it doesn’t manage to deliver with its convoluted plot, rushed pacing and undeserved character moments, it makes up for in spades with fan service. This really is a film for the fans, which is why I felt really gratified upon leaving the theatre. Despite this, The Rise of Skywalker is rife with flaws.

I won’t go too much into the plot so as not to spoil it for hardcore fans of the franchise, but it essentially follows Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) as they lead the Resistance’s final stand against the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order, who have become allied with Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), an evil Sith lord believed to have perished at the end of Return of the Jedi.

The film gets off to a racing start, splitting between the different perspectives of Kylo, Rey and the crew of the Millennium Falcon on their different journeys. This rapid pace is something that doesn’t let up throughout the whole film, and is something of an annoyance at times. Most of the first half of the film is taken up with the protagonists rushing from one planet to another, narrowly avoiding the clutches of the First Order while seeking out one MacGuffin after another. This all leads to a monumental final battle, as the Resistance try to stop the Emperor from spreading his tyranny across the galaxy once again.

Despite all their misgivings, all the new films in the sequel trilogy are beautiful-looking big-budget movies, and The Rise of Skywalker is no exception. The lightsabre effects are better than they’ve ever been, the space battles are thrilling and grounded and the design, feel and atmosphere of the Sith temple in which the Emperor resides is visually fascinating, while also quite horrifying. The iconic John Williams score is also spine-tingling. With musical nods to different characters and events in the saga, it’s arguably the best music any Star Wars film has to offer.

The film is peppered with a treasure trove of visual references to other Star Wars films. I did really appreciate this, and it made me aware of how this massive franchise was finally coming to an end. Just like director JJ Abrams’ last Star Wars film The Force Awakens, The Rise of Skywalker also has many narrative references to the other films. This could be seen as lazy, but since these references weren’t as explicit as TFA, I think Abrams manages to get away with it.

However, the huge amount of plot they managed to cram into this final film did make it feel rushed in almost every avenue, particularly certain character’s arcs. This illustrates the main issue for the entire sequel trilogy.

No matter how much I enjoyed this, quite frankly, crazy movie, it makes me wish there was a plan set in place for these final three films. There is a disconnect between Abrams’ entries and Johnson’s previous effort The Last Jedi that it makes me despair as to why Disney did not promote either one director’s vision, or have different directors take on different parts of a planned storyline. The Rise of Skywalker is an enjoyable big budget movie and a fitting end to the Star Wars franchise which any fans of it will love, but through its glaring narrative flaws it shows how foolish Disney were with their planning and just how great this sequel trilogy could’ve been if it had been done better.

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