'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' review: It's OK

'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' review: It's OK

Chewie, Rey, Poe, Finn and Threepio (not seen) on the Millennium Falcon in The Rise of Skywalker.

Director: JJ Abrams
Cast: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Ian McDiarmid
Score: 3/5

The ending of a war is a beautiful thing if the good side has won, which is why it must've been hard on Emperor Sheev Palpatine to be chucked down the shaft of the Death Star on Endor by his own apprentice. It's a good thing that the Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural, because as far as The Rise of Skywalker is concerned, he's the best thing to happen to it.

The Rise of Skywalker, the ending to the Skywalker Saga, is a film that struggles under the pressure of closing out a trilogy that is considered by many to be inconsistent, at the very least. It had to 'rectify' what fans thought was a travesty in Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, while tackling the lack of Carrie Fisher, making do with old footage in favour of CGI recreations.

The story of the film is not a cohesive progression of plot as much as it is a bunch of plot points put together, sometimes haphazardly. At times, it tries too hard to retcon many things that The Last Jedi brought in, while simultaneously bringing up the threat of a new Empire, this time powered by a fleet of Star Destroyers, each capable of wiping out entire planets. The entire retread of the Empire vs Rebellion idea really does bring the grand space battles of Star Wars back, if only for a brief time.

To its credit, The Rise of Skywalker manages more than once to make the situation feel exceptionally hopeless. This is particularly obvious during a scene on the desert planet of Pasaana, where the lead trio of Rey, Finn and Poe go to recover a clue to locating the Emperor.

On the other end, the film's handling of Carrie Fisher's passing is praiseworthy, to say the least. The effect it has on Rey and Kylo, who is apparently still struggling with his nature while trying to wipe out any defiance towards his First Order, is beautifully crafted. Ridley and Driver really hammer home the sense of loss that one feels when a family member dies.

Coming back to the Emperor, Ian McDiarmid is a delight as always. He's got a wonky script to work with, but he manages to bring the same sense of arrogance and power that the Emperor always showed right up to his final moments. Deformed though he may be, Palpatine continues to be a Sith to be reckoned with.

The Rise of Skywalker's biggest enemy is its pacing and editing. It sometimes passes through major plot points like a breeze while dragging along smaller moments to rather uncomfortable lengths, and the editing really doesn't help when it has at least three subplots to deal with: The Sith Fleet, Rey's continuing lack of resolution on who she is and the crippled state of the Resistance.

There's a hint of the deeper philosophy that the Original Trilogy dealt with, spread across the entire film: Confronting fear, accepting death and giving yourself to a higher power is all there, as is the belief in the idea of life. JJ Abrams does try to make the ancient concepts of Star Wars mythology shine the best he can.

To close, The Rise of Skywalker is a fanboy's film through and through. It may or may not win fans who felt burned by Rian Johnson's entry to the series and it may be a wonky end to the Skywalker saga, but it does have its heart in the right place.

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