More than four decades after it began, the Skywalker saga comes to an end with this ninth episode, The Rise Of Skywalker. It’s not the end of all Star Wars, of course, as there are TV series and more spin-off movies in the pipeline, but this adventure does bring a close (of sorts) to the story of Luke Skywalker, evil Sith Emperor Palpatine, young Jedi Rey and characters such as Chewie, Finn, Poe, Leia, Kylo Ren and droids BB8, C3PO, and R2D2.
While many fans will have revisited the most recent two instalments The Force Awakens (episode 7) and The Last Jedi (episode 8) in preparation for episode nine, it is actually the originalthree movies that this adventure harks back to the most. Director and co-writer JJ Abrams (with co-writer Chris Terrio) delivers a movie that plays like a greatest hits of Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, paying homage (and some knowing winks) to the movies that started it all and, dare we say it, remain the best three of the saga.
Following the events of The Last Jedi, we find Rey (Ridley) completing her Jedi training under the watchful eye of Leia (Fisher, who sadly died before the movie was in production, her performance consisting of footage she had already filmed for the previous instalments). Meanwhile, Poe (Isaac), Finn (Boyega) and Chewie are aboard the Millenium Falcon, travelling across the galaxy to get information from a spy that will help the Resistance. Oh, and Kylo Ren (Driver) is also jetting about on a journey of his own – tracking down Sith leader Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who is (barely) alive but has still managed to create a deadly fleet of ships to crush the good guys once and for all.
There is a lot to love here, especially if you are a fan of the original trilogy, from the return of old characters (such as Billy Dee Williams’ Lando) to visits to remembered planets. Fisher gets a lot more screen time than you’d expect, and there are some good character arcs for Ridley’s Rey, who is finally finding strength in the Force, and the conflicted Kylo Ren (Driver giving another superb performance).
But there are a few problems with this finale, too. Abrams, who also made The Force Awakens, abandons some of the more interesting threads from Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi (such as the new young generation of wannabe fighters) and instead focuses on cameos and familiar emotional moments to tug at the heart strings. Poe is little more than a more suave Han Solo in this outing, Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose is almost forgotten, and even Finn is given little of note to do apart from wave a blaster about.
While the same few actors (Billie Lourd, Dominic Monaghan, Greg Grunberg) regularly popping up at Leia’s base makes the world in this Star Wars feel a little small (where is everyone else?), there are some fun new additions to the cast, including Keri Russell’s Zorii Bliss and Richard E Grant’s First Order General Pride, as well as some neat surprises that we won’t spoil here.
And there are edge of the seat clashes between Rey and Kylo, daring rescues, the Indiana Jones-style hunt for a clue that will lead the Resistance to the Emperor’s location, and a spectacular space battle to enjoy. In fact, all the things you want from a Star Wars movie – plus a fitting and rather lovely ending to the Skywalker story that has enthralled generations and will no doubt continue to do so for many more years.
Is Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Younger viewers (under age 10) may find Emperor Palpatine scary to look at, as he resembles a corpse and has white eyes. Also, his setting – a dark cavern – and the flickering lights on him may make him even more unsettling to junior viewers.
There are a couple of scenes of visible injuries being inflicted.
As with all the Star Wars movies, there are numerous light sabre battles, times when the heroes are in danger and tense battles in space.
There are some character deaths that may upset very young viewers.
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