"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker "is the ninth and last film of what Lucasfilm calls The Skywalker Saga. It is the end of the story: that is its greatest asset and its greatest burden.
Certainly, if you expect that a single film can effectively conclude each story, complete each arc of characters and answer all the persistent questions of the previous eight films, you must abandon that hope now. Director J.J. Abrams is releasing this as the culmination of a nine movie pica, but how could a single movie live up to 40 years of theory and dream of millions of Star Wars fans?
(This review describes the general plot of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" but does not contain important spoilers.)
Yes, see some recurring faces of the original triloga, including Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, the late Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa (courtesy of the unused images of "The Force Awakens") and Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian.
But their roles are quite small. In fact, he will say that only Williams is used effectively. However, that's fine, this is no longer his story. They are here to pass the torch.
So it is the new characters that are in the spotlight this time. More than anything, "The Rise of Skywalker" serves as a last chance for the three main heroes of the new triloga: the coachman turned into Jedi King (Daisy Ridley), the stormtrooper turned into a resistance fighter Finn (John Boyega ) and the pilot as Poe (Oscar Isaac) – to have an adventure together.
The film begins with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who ascended to the role of Supreme Leader of the First Order (also known as the new Empire). It lands on a mysterious planet to track transmissions that seem to come from Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid, who clearly enjoys his return to paper).
It was quickly established that Palpatine somehow survived his death at the end of "The Return of the Jedi," and has been the secret intellectual author behind the First Order all the time. Now he has assembled a giant fleet of more deadly ships, and if Kylo wants to take command, all he has to do is kill Rey first.
This scene sets the template for the rest of the film, combining changing and magnificent images with a vertiginous rhythm, while offering any exhibition with the minimum amount of detail.
The first half of "The Rise of Skywalker" becomes a long chase, as our heroes look for a mysterious artifact that can be crucial to defeat the Emperor, while Kylo and his Knights of Ren are very close.
It is not difficult to realize that many of these first plot developments seem designed to fill time, keeping our heroes busy before the grand finale. The film is rushed and prolonged: constantly new destinations appear to visit and then rushed as quickly as possible.
This doesn't bother me as much as I would have expected, in large part because the plot takes us from one richly imagined world to another. They are filled with some of the most deliciously strange aliens in the franchise, and they add to the most expansive tour of the Star Wars universe that I can remember.
As for the second half of the movie, you can probably guess where to end the story, especially if you've seen "The Return of the Jedi" recently. But even if it doesn't surprise you, you can still see how Abrams has expanded in the scale and bets of the previous movie.
When I revived the franchise in 2015 with "The Force Awakens," Abrams seemed happy to remix the original triloga. With "The Rise of Skywalker", on the other hand, he apparently was inspired to be more "daring", and the film contains some of the most amazing images of his career: a little skimmer struggling to stay afloat in an incredibly chopped ocean , a vast and ancient throne room full of shadow figures, a slight duel of sabers in the middle of the floating ruins of an old Death Star.
Unfortunately, Abrams, the screenwriter (working with co-writer Chris Terrio) did not do such a good job. The dialogue is more confusing and more obvious than it was in the last two films, with jokes that rarely arrive with the same efficiency.
There is also a sliding quality in the plot, with many important events that apparently happen for no reason, except that to have a, because it's the last movie. And while "The Last Jedi" tried to end the mystery of King's fatherhood, "The Rise of Skywalker" cannot move on. It raises the question again and provides a final answer that is reasonably satisfactory on its own, but does not justify the enormous accumulation and vice versa in the course of three films.
Finally, although I liked "The Rise of Skywalker" quite well, I also thought it was the weakest delivery of the new triloga. I find it especially difficult to remember any moment that has affected me as deeply as the end of "The Last Jedi": there is nothing here that can match the sad sadness of Luke's reunion with Leia or his last and lonely position against the First Order. .
But even if "The Rise of Skywalker" isn't the great culmination I've been waiting for, it's still a fun adventure, not to mention a decent farewell to Luke, Leia and everyone else. When the forces of good and evil lined up for a final battle, I felt that old Star Wars emotion. And when I saw the last shot, I knew that the story was ending where it was always supposed to end.