Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker Review
by M. Handcock
**** 4 Stars
‘All in all, The Rise of Skywalker was an amazing movie. In story, in effects, in score, in almost everything.’
Director: JJ Abrams
Cast: Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), John Boyega (Fin), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) & Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa).
Synopsis: The surviving members of the resistance face the First Order once again. The historic battle between the Sith and the Jedi continues to rage as a Sith lord of ages past is seemingly risen from the grave – and he is determined to vanquish the Jedi Order once and for all.
The final instalment of the Skywalker Saga is somewhat of a controversial topic within the Star Wars fan community. It is a perfectly beautiful movie that ties together the sequel movie series, bringing the trilogy to a satisfying close – as well as being nominated for 3 Oscars, among other prestigious film awards. However, some of the die-hard fans will never be satisfied with the Disney attempt to end the saga.
SPOILERS AHEAD – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
In the conclusion of this 43-year phenomenon, we are greeted by several familiar faces and voices – as well as a couple of new interesting characters. We see the return of the evil Sith Lord, Darth Sidious (AKA Emperor Palpatine), as it is revealed that thanks to the dark side of the Force, he is still alive. All this time he was playing out his elaborate plan to lure Kylo Ren to the dark side – to have him kill Rey. This massive twist shocked many people, but to many people, it felt forced, almost rushed. I personally believe that if Palpatine had been a part of the original trailer for Episode IX, the film would have been better received. Instead, many spent most of the beginning of the film coming to terms with Palpatine’s return. Still, the way he is tied into the story makes perfect sense, and the return of this fearsome villain and his insane powers had me on the edge of my seat in every scene.
Other familiar characters that returned for the finale include Lando Calrissian, (played by original actor, Billy Dee Williams), and the voices of Jedi passed – Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, Master Yoda, Ahsoka Tano, Qui-gon Jinn, Obi-wan Kenobi, and others. Before Rey defeats Palpatine, she asks the Jedi to ‘be with her’ and they answer – If you can identify the voices, it’s a lovely little easter-egg. I wish that instead of voices, we could have seen their force ghosts, but alas, Disney’s fan service budget did not stretch that far.
Speaking of fan service, Disney really went out there and gave the vocal side of the fan-base what they wanted. Not everyone agrees with the Kylo Ren/Rey relationship, otherwise known as ‘Reylo,’ potentially due to the unhealthy aspects of the relationship. But at the end of the movie, before his untimely death, Ben Solo – now reformed – kisses Rey. Though this may have satisfied the rabid ‘Reylo’ fans, many people felt that this kiss was incredibly forced, like it was put in to fill the missing romantic aspect of the movie. In my opinion, the kiss was not so bad. I felt that in the emotional context of the scene, the fact that they were victorious over the dark side, that Kylo Ren had reformed to Ben Solo – it felt right. The part that really irks me is the very ending when Luke and Leia watch Rey in ‘force ghost’ form on Tatooine – where is Ben? Surely if they were the power couple Disney was pushing at us, he would be watching her as well.
Even though Disney loves cramming in awkward, unnecessary, and even unwanted scenes, they seem to love abandoning characters and ideas that are full of potential. We can only imagine the implications of some of the things that Disney flashed us with: Sith! Rey, Jedi! Ben, Leia being a Jedi, Fin developing a truly meaningful power (please give that man a lightsaber), and much. much more. In the scene in which Ben takes his grandfather’s lightsaber and destroys the knights of Ren, we get a glimpse into what could be. What if he had not died? Could we have seen a new league of Jedi taught by a third generation Skywalker? We shall never know.
All in all, The Rise of Skywalker was an amazing movie. In story, in effects, in score, in almost everything. Of course, there are some aspects that could have been improved upon, extended upon, or even wholly abandoned, but in the end The Rise of Skywalker was a fantastic end to a beloved saga that will be watched for years to come.
Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker is currently available on Sky and Disney Plus. It was rated 12A by the BBFC.