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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Movie Review

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Movie Review

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

The Star Wars saga has gone through its share of ups and downs, but the main goal has often been the same: to take an audience to worlds never seen before and get to know heroes and villains fighting to earn their place in the galaxy. There is an appeal to these fantasy adventures and that’s why new films continue to be made. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t rock the boat in any major way, preferring to play it safe as it jumps characters from one planet to the next. However, the core of Star Wars as a battle between good and evil remains, as do the large scale special effects and action scenes that are a cornerstone of the series. This is a satisfying conclusion to what is currently a nine episode story.

While Rian Johnson presented a lot of fascinating new ideas to Star Wars in the previous film The Last Jedi, returning director J.J. Abrams is content to give us the same elements we already know and admire about these films. The fun in The Rise of Skywalker comes from seeing the interactions between the main cast and the various planets they find themselves going to. While we’ve seen a good amount of Rey and Finn together, along with Finn and Poe, this is surprisingly the first movie where all three share significant screentime. The trio has good interplay and some of the sweeter and funnier moments come from how they apply their skills on the field.

When it comes to other returning participants, there is a bittersweet feeling when watching Carrie Fisher’s scenes. It’s hard to escape the reality that she is no longer with us, as Abrams tries to edit in deleted footage whenever Leia appears. On the opposite side, it’s great to finally encounter Lando Calrissian again and Billy Dee Williams has not lost any of his charm. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren comes across as even more of a creep as he continues to pursue Rey and push her towards the dark side. That battle between good and evil is a common theme in these films and Abrams continues to show Rey’s bravery in fighting against these malicious forces.

The action and space battle sequences are expertly put together, with the wizards at Industrial Light and Magic again showing why they’re among the best in the business. Throw John Williams’s music on top and there are a number of scenes where it’s easy to smile. When watching the ninth chapter in a series, it can be tricky walking in without certain expectations. There are a few creative decisions where the mileage will certainly vary with some. After The Last Jedi provided some experimentation and took the franchise in unexpected directions, it would have been nice to see more of that.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker provides us with heroes to root for, villains we want to see defeated and exciting space battles. It fits very neatly into the Star Wars legacy and provides enough solid character moments and rousing scenes to entertain. J.J. Abrams has a crafted a safe film that doesn’t quite reach the highs of other franchise entries, which could be interpreted as disappointing. It checks off the needed boxes in order to create a satisfying finale, even if one wishes the movie played around just a tad more. For now, it will be nice to take another long needed rest from Star Wars in movie theatres.

Stefan Ellison