Friday, January 10, 2020

Movie Review: “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

By Daniel Kilgallon

Rated: (PG-13)
Runtime: 142 mins

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” follows 2015’s “The Force Awakens” and 2017’s “The Last Jedi” as the concluding chapter of Disney’s sequel trilogy. It also serves as the final installment of the nine-episode “Skywalker saga.” Director J.J. Abrams (“The Force Awakens”) came back to helm this picture, building off of Rian Johnson’s work on “The Last Jedi”. Additionally, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver all return to their starring roles while archive footage of the late Carrie Fisher was used to complete her final scenes. As a loyal fan of the saga, I was really looking forward to seeing how this epic narrative came to a close.

As seen in initial posters, the evil Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) has seemingly returned from the dead and now poses a threat to the surviving members of the Resistance. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is completing Jedi training in preparation for her inevitable rematch with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Soon, she joins forces with Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in a desperate effort to save the galaxy once and for all.

“The Rise of Skywalker” is a bold film that brings the stakes of this saga to a whole new level, to say the least. While I found the development of the monumental threat to be a bit rushed this time around, there is no denying that it led to an unbelievably exciting thrill ride of a movie. It was so satisfying to see our trio of new heroes finally team up for a substantial journey and the comradery of the group is fueled by powerful, authentic performances. The force connection established between Rey and Kylo Ren in “The Last Jedi” is once again showcased spectacularly, culminating in a stunning conclusion to that key element of the trilogy.

Putting aside my thoughts on the choppy exposition, I still found this to be amongst the most exciting of the Star Wars films. As expected, the visual effects are absolutely off the charts in a number of standout scenes, including a gritty chase sequence on a new desert planet called Pasaana. Like much of the material released since Disney’s acquisition of the franchise, this movie offers something for everybody through a faithful blend of nostalgic elements and a story for a new generation. Ultimately delivering a well-deserved, heartfelt conclusion, “The Rise of Skywalker” stands as a grand finale that shouldn’t be missed.

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