Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (12A)

2019 has been a pretty big year for Saga ending films. The MCU had its turn earlier in the year, and now it’s time for the Skywalker Saga to reach its conclusion. The fate of the Galaxy and the hopes and dreams of Star Wars fans rest in JJ Abrams hands, can he deliver?

The Rise of Skywalker (TRoS) doesn’t feature an overly complicated plot. As can be discerned from the trailers, Palpatine is back from the grave with some very bad intentions and it’s up to our heroes to stop him. One of the main criticisms I’ve heard levied at TRoS, is that the plot is overly simplistic. I would counter that, Empire Strikes back aside, every film in the Star Wars universe features a simplistic plot, and to be honest that’s OK. One thing that TRoS does feature above any entry before, is action on a previously unmatched scale, and that is saying something for a series stretching back over 40 years.

As for our cast of heroes and villains, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are given the bulk of the screen time. Their continued connection through the force, leads to a constant cat and mouse game. This time Rey’s companions, Finn (Boyega), Poe (Isaac), Chewie, C3P0 and BB8 join her for the ride, after being largely kept apart in The Last Jedi. They each get their moments to shine, although any character development is minimal at this point. We are also introduced to a few new characters on both sides of the conflict, Zorri (Kerri Russell), Jannah (Naomi Ackie) and Allegiant General Pryde (Richard E. Grant).

All of the new characters are interesting enough, that it makes it a shame that we’re not given more time to get to know them. This leads neatly into TRoS biggest flaw, there’s just so much going on sometimes it feels a little rushed. It’s by no means a massive drawback, but if some of the elements on show had been moved back into The Last Jedi then it may have given a bit more room to breathe story-wise. The alternative would have been to abandon the trilogy approach and push the story to 10 Episodes, which I think Kathleen Kennedy deliberately brought up in a recent interview.

TRoS also marks the final appearance of Carrie Fisher. It’s an appearance pieced together using unused footage from the previous two episodes. For the most part it works pretty well, although you can tell at times where they’ve had to be economical with the dialogue to make it fit. I imagine her family will be happy with how it turned out and it’s a fitting send off to one of the most iconic female characters in film.

Going into TRoS as a huge Star Wars fan, I had a mental checklist of what I wanted resolved by the film’s conclusion. I can happily report that every box was ticked for me and I’m completely satisfied with the outcome. TRoS isn’t the greatest movie ever made, it doesn’t need to be. What it is, is the best possible ending to a story that has been ongoing for 4 decades. I’ve seen the movie twice already, and for me it’s the best entry in the latest trilogy.

By Mark Jankowski

★★★★★

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