Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 22 minutes, Director – J.J. Abrams
As the threat of the Sith becomes even bigger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Co must find a way to track down the still alive Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), while Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is close behind them.
This is where it ends (or at least where part of it ends). The Skywalker Saga. One of the biggest storylines, and indeed film series, of all time ends here, coming to a conclusion for the third time. Following on from the events of the somewhat divisive The Last Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley), still training under the watchful eye of General Leia (Carrie Fisher), she aims to carry on the work of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) while developing her own Jedi skills and abilities. It’s not long until Rey finds herself going in search of a Sith wayfinder – of which there are only two in existence – in the hope of finding the recently returned Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who was believed up until this point to have been long dead.
However, also on the trail of a wayfinder is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). More enraged than ever, after more defeats in the previous film, and also far more intent on bringing Rey, whose powers are stronger than either of the pair realise, over to the dark side. Alongside this it appears that the numbers of the First Order have grown even larger, with multiple ships that have the ability to destroy entire planets that refuse to surrender to them. It seems as if there’s no chance of the Resistance fighting back and winning. And so, in the hope of having a chance Rey, Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), BB-8 ( and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) find themselves flying from planet to planet in the hope of finding clues that will lead them to where they need to get to to end the fight and bring this saga to a close. Where’s classic droid R2-D2 amongst all this, again it seems as if noone has any idea what he’s mean to be doing and therefore is moved to the side to sit there and briefly be shown looking at other characters every now and then.
There’s a lot going on in this close to another Star Wars trilogy, and the Skywalker Saga as we know it. We’ve also got General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) having to put up with Richard E. Grant’s General Pryde – it’s almost impossible to think that every time director J.J. Abrams (who also directed 2015’s The Force Awakens) yelled cut a huge grin spread from ear to ear across Grant’s, otherwise deadpan or enraged character’s, face at the fact that he was part of a Star Wars film. The two are clearly having a great time being a part of this film, unfortunately their screen-time is somewhat lacking. Another figure with limited screen-time is Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico. Tico who was introduced in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi almost seems to just be pushed to the side, Abrams unsure as to what to do with her, thus relegating her to a lesser role, more in the background, even if assisting Leia and the Resistance army. At least she hasn’t been completely pushed away like Adrian Edmonson’s comic relief Captain Peavey. Comic relief, or at least a more successful use of it, being something that The Rise Of Skywalker could use, or just less of the attempts at gags that don’t quite take off properly.
For the most part Abrams manages to keep track of what’s happening, who’s where and why they’re there. The film is relatively easy to keep up with and there’s a fair deal of enjoyment to be found from it. However, the feeling lies that it seems as if the writers are trying to tie up more threads than there actually are, as if they’ve given themselves more to do than they initially had. Maybe this is down to some fan-service. Giving Star Wars fans – of which I am not one, I’ve been able to appreciate and admire the series and a number of the films but am in no way a fan – a number of things to enjoy and connect with, things that they’ve seen throughout the previous 8 films and want to revisit one more time in this saga. This mixed in with a feeling that maybe something was mixed in the writing process. Initially Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was on board to make this film, he’s credited, alongside Derek Connolly, with helping to write the story, alongside the pairing of Abrams and Chris Terrio, who collaborated on the screenplay.
It might be down to this that what’s been heavily advertised as the spectacular finale to the story of a generation (or two, maybe even three) is quite average. Amongst all the dashing about, and the occasional lightsaber battle, which are rather well done; made better by being backed by John Williams’, as always, strong and reliable score – his final for a Star Wars film. The performances throughout the film also help to hold things up. But the constant dashing about and travelling to and from various different planets and seeing the perspectives of a number of different characters. There’s so much going on and so many characters to keep track of that sometimes it seems difficult for the writers to focus on what they actually need to focus on. While the battles and action sequences are good, and this wraps up the saga well enough. It does seem as if there’s something missing, perhaps more spectacle. This almost as if the victory lap is being done before the final one. While it’s good, it’s not quite the main event that we may have been here for.
Focusing on story threads and ideas that it seems the writers have invented that weren’t initially there Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker feels, despite good action, score, visuals and general technical detail and good performances, as if it’s given itself too much to handle meaning that not everything quite feels properly wrapped up by the end despite a perfectly fine finale.