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Film Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

If you love Return of the Jedi, you are going to love The Rise of Skywalker, JJ Abrams’ closing film to the Star Wars Skywalker Saga…

The latest film in the storied franchise Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker finds JJ Abrams returning to “correct” what so many did not like.  The results are lukewarm at best.  The well-intentioned entry by choosing safe creates a film that’s comfort food for the masses, but will anyone really care that this isn’t a bold stroke of storytelling?  Probably not… for now. 

The biggest problem with The Rise of Skywalker is its need to make sure that everything is “course-corrected” and made essentially old again.  There are interesting ideas to be sure that Abrams and credited screenwriters Chris Terrio, Derek Connolly, and Colin Trevorrow have created but much of it feels in service to a story that’s designed to make people happy with Star Wars again when there wasn’t a need to do so in the first place.  Reveals that are twists in the plot feel more eye-rolling rather than an exciting and deeper understanding of the universe through those. 

Much of the issues and there are plenty to choose from, come directly from Abrams and his screenwriters relying so heavily on the troupes, conventions, and plotlines of Return of the Jedi.  Just like The Force Awakens is essentially a remake of A New Hope, this new film mirrors the last in the original trilogy in the same way.  The Force Awakens soars because the storytelling within A New Hope is as solid and sound as one can get in fantasy.  Rise of Skywalker suffers from the same fate of Return of the Jedi (minus Ewoks) which is a story that feels it deserved a better and more original ending. 

In The Rise of Skywalker’s defense, it is a rollicking good time.  The film is such a good time and moves so fast one may never realize some of the outright dumb decisions they make with the main characters, the Force, the Sith, the Jedi, and the very nature of Star Wars.  The Action is handsomely shot by Dan Mindel and elegantly edited by Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube.

For many, this will be the culmination they were looking for; the perfect way to tie the 9-film 40-year venture with a nice bow.  For those many, this will work and be the greatest thing ever.  For others after the shininess dulls from the new toy will be left with many questions that begin with “but why _____”.   This is all until another Star Wars Skywalker Film begins production. 

For now, The Rise of Skywalker is sure to delight as much as it will confuse and enrage others. 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters everywhere December 19th