Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (PG13)
Starring Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver
Directed by JJ Abrams
The best thing about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, JJ Abrams’ conclusion to the nine-part Skywalker Saga — which George Lucas started 42 years ago with A New Hope — is seeing Jedi trainee Rey (Daisy Ridley) and rebel leaders Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) together again, after being kept apart in Rian Johnson’s polarising The Last Jedi.
The trio carry a playful vibe as they race against time to avert a crisis orchestrated by a resurrected nemesis. But first they have to get past emo Darth Vader-wannabe Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, whose best moments don’t involve fighting). Their mission is rife with callbacks to signature sequences, returning players, new faces, lightsabre duels, and familial surprises, all set to John Williams’ stirring score.
Now, the bad news. If you love Last Jedi for its bold narrative departures, then you’re going to be displeased with Rise of Skywalker’s course-correction and fan pandering. Nothing wrong with that, but it does make the movie a tad safe and predictable. Abrams has been down this divisive road before: Remember Lost? Welcome back to the island.
Pacing is another concern: the movie is fast-moving. A bit too fast-moving, in fact, as if it’s been strapped to the Millennium Falcon on hyperdrive. So fast that before you can actually process the impact of some of the revelations, you’re off to the next plot point. Considering how much plot that's thrown at us, it could really use an extra half hour.
As end-of-the-saga stories go, Rise of Skywalker is somewhat underwhelming and I blame it on Avengers: Endgame for stealing some of the thunder, notably in the third act where the rebels are trapped in a David vs Goliath battle. Rise of Skywalker even has its “I’m inevitable/I’m Iron Man” scene. Déjà vu.
Another thing that bothers me is that I'm not particularly sad about Episode IX being the last Skywalker-centric Star Wars movie. Because we all know there are more Star Wars movies in the works from Rian Johnson and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige as well as the upcoming Disney+ series on Obi-Wan Kenobi.
So what if you're disappointed with Rise of Skywalker? Don’t sweat it. There’s always The Mandalorian and the cultural phenomenon that is Baby Yoda. Life goes on. (***)
For more on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, listen to our chat with Daniel Martin on CNA938’s Trending.