Review – Star Wars : The Rise of Skywalker

As we say farewell to the tale of the ‘Skywalker saga’, Episode 9 offers an enjoyable wrapping up of the story, even if not meeting everyone’s hopes.

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Now over 40 years old, we have reached the final instalment in the main Star Wars ‘Skywalker saga’ with Episode 9 : The Rise of Skywalker.

In terms of set up, it is now well know that Emperor Palpatine, last seen falling to his death in Return of the Jedi has somehow returned and has taken up residence on the secret Sith planet of Exegol. In fact, he has not just made a remarkable return, he has assembled a fleet of destroyers so powerful they can lay waste to the entire galaxy. Meanwhile, the resistance are regathering and through a spy find out about Palpatines return and the urgent need to stop his plans.

And off we go into a familiar sense of loyalty, battles and space opera. JJ Abrams returns to the helm of this sequel trilogy with the need to tie together a huge amount of elements and draw the ennead of stories to an end. And largely I think he is very successful in doing so.

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There is an odd sense of finality in watching the film which feels odd in a franchise so well known and in a universe no doubt du to spawn other spin offs and storylines. We’ve said goodbye to Han and Luke already, and through the loss of Carrier Fisher in real life, Leia’s role in the film is created through unused footage from Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi.

From the opening moment the pace of the film is noticeable as it races into the plot, quickly seeing to establish the jeopardy, because we’ve got a lot to get through here right?

The now well established cast are back with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Issacs amongst many others and the glorious return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian.

Ever since the release of the Phantom Menace, we’ve seen that Star War fans (myself included) can be tricky to please. I’ve no doubt that there are people that have had allergic reactions to elements of the film but I very intentionally went in open minded and trying to enjoy it as much as possible. And I did.

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Ultimately, the films have undoubtedly lost some of the wonder that the original trilogy had. Their unique contribution, by definition, can’t be repeated and to attempt to judge new parts of the story against these feels unfair a benchmark now. The film remains full of the classic elements of the tales – battles between good/evil, friendship, sacrifice, temptation and redemption – and they throw everything they can into this roller coaster of a tale.

Are there contrived elements for purposes of narrative progression? Absolutely. But in truth little more than earlier films, it may just be that we regard those ones more warmly.  I’m sure that in trying to resolve some elements ‘for the fans’ it will alienate others, and I imagine that under examination will not rank high in terms of real contribution to the overall story which has become one of the great mythologies of our time.

There are some genuinely stunning visual moments, and musically (John Williams delivers his final Star Wars score) it holds all of the magic of the previous offerings.

My advice? See it on the big screen and bid farewell to the tale of the Skywalker and the journey that we’ve all been on with this story over the last 40 years – if you go to enjoy it, it’s likely that you will.

7/10

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