After bringing ‘Star Wars’ back into our lives in 2015 with ‘The Force Awakens’, director J. J. Abrams returns to conclude the trilogy that he began four years ago. His return comes after the hugely divisive (understatement of the decade) entry into the saga from Rian Johnson, ‘The Last Jedi’. So will Abrams be able to restore peace to the cinematic galaxy once more or will his conclusion, ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ simply be a further disturbance?
In this day and age it is impossible to make a ‘Star Wars’ film that will please everyone, but here Abrams really does try his best to do so. Reigning things in from the wonderfully wild and unpredictable events of Episode VIII, Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio play it very safe with the narrative here. ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ feels like a classic, by the numbers ‘Star Wars’ film, and whilst it could be argued that this is uninspired Abrams directs their vision with enough confidence and precision to allow this to be forgiven. Albeit in a few instances the pacing of the film becomes slightly problematic, however these moments never last long enough to contribute any prolonged negativity to the overall viewing experience.
The events of this film sees the bulk of the main characters; Rey, Finn, Poe, plus assorted droids & wookies actually spend the majority of time together unlike their previously scattered placements in the last two films. This makes for an enjoyable ensemble of characters to lead audiences through the story, with the screenplay always making time for new and returning characters too. However, some characters do suffer a severe loss of screen time from previous installments, most notably Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose, which is a shame. The character work isn’t as strong as it has been before but the writing here allows for the satisfying completion of all the character arcs you’d expect to see resolved. In addition to this, included within this episode are some really special moments for characters from both the original and the sequel trilogy, delivering a rich variety of humourous, heated and heartfelt interactions that fans will delight in seeing.
Abrams knows how to deliver an action sequence and there’s an abundance of proof here. However, the film maybe could have benefited from a more focused amount of these with more screen time for each as the higher volume of shorter sequences does open up the film to issues. Nonetheless there are countless highlights throughout, including a thrilling desert chase, like a combination of ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ meets ‘The Phantom Menace’, featuring some of the most badass stormtroopers that the ‘Star Wars’ series has ever seen. The finale too has suitable scale to match the narrative climax to this trilogy and it, along with several other scenes and sequences will evoke an emotional response from its audiences making their investment over the years wholly worthwhile.
Admittedly the weakest of the sequel trilogy, comparatively ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ might disappoint. However, coming in third place to its two excellent predecessors doesn’t make it a bad film, it is in fact far from this. Abrams ensures that the sequel trilogy is concluded in satisfying fashion delivering high stakes, entertaining action and interesting character developments. A ‘Star Wars’ film that might not prove as spectacular as others but a nonetheless engaging entry into this much loved series that works as a solid send off for the saga.
Written by Hamish Calvert
STAR RATING –★★★★
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