Movie Review: “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker” Is A Strong Conclusion To The Skywalker Saga

Image Courtesy of Disney

“Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” is the final installment in the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy and the final chapter in the Skywalker saga as a whole. While often treading familiar waters, the film caps off the story with a hyperspace rush of action and a 155-minute epic love poem to longtime fans.

Picking up from the events of “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi,” the film follows the remaining members of the Resistance under the leadership of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), fighting alongside allies Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) to restore peace and justice to the galaxy. Elsewhere, the First Order seeks to snuff out this fire under the iron grip of Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the essence of Emperor Sheev Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). All of this leads to a spectacular finale that’s been 42 years in the making.

Though ending a story of this magnitude was never going to be easy, director JJ Abrams returns to the helm after his work on “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens;” and the previous director Colin Trevorrow (“Safety Not Guaranteed,” “Jurassic World,”) was let go from the project (though he still maintains a co-writer credit alongside Abrams, Derek Conolly and Chris Terrio).

The film is rife with Easter eggs and callbacks to the saga’s lineage. Old friends such as Lando Calrissian (a swaggering Billy Dee Williams) are joined by new allies such as the Resistance fighter Jannah (Naomi Ackie) and the enigmatic bounty hunter Zori Bliss (Keri Russell) clashing with fearsome enemies including Allegiant General Pryde (Richard E. Grant) and a fleet of world-destroying spacecraft known as “The Final Order.”

While the story may draw significantly from the well of the previous entries in the series, there is affection for the saga and its fans in every frame. Building on not just what the sequel trilogy established, all the previous chapters of the story are used to give the saga a send off that’s been built up ever since the very first frames of “Episode VII.” The film manages to strike a balance between the fun and adventurous tone of “Return of the Jedi” and the dark, dramatic style of “Revenge of the Sith” to close out the sequel trilogy and the Skywalker saga overall.
Much like how the original trilogy paid homage to vintage “Flash Gordon” serials and the films of Akira Kurosawa, this film is the ideal tribute to what’s come before.

While the series will be going on a brief hiatus from theaters after this film, the saga will remain in the public eye thanks to Disney Plus series such as “The Mandalorian,” a limited revival of the 2008 version of “The Clone Wars,” and a spinoff about Obi-Wan Kenobi (with Ewan McGregor reprising his role from the prequel trilogy). For now, “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” is the culmination of all of what’s come before it in the “Star Wars” saga. Whatever directions the series takes in the future, it’s clear the Force will be with it; always.

Verdict: 5 Out of 5 Stars

Review by Steven Pryor

At a Glance:

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Domhnall Gleeson, Keri Russell, Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams and Ian McDiarmid

Directed by JJ Abrams (Based on Characters created by George Lucas)

Rated: PG-13

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