“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (Rated B)
Cast: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega
Dwight’s Rating: 2.5
Stop right there!
If you are a superfan, and know all things “Star Wars”, have unopened/unboxed action figures from “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Return of the Jedi” (1983), speak any of the various alien languages even semi-fluently and are prepared to go to blows if that 1977 debut movie isn’t referred to as “Episode IV – A New Hope” every time, then, gentle reader, there is nothing for you here. You need go no further with your reading.
This article will likely only make you angry, and force you to pen some sort of obscene e-mail calling me every name in the galaxy. You’ve probably already made up your mind on “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”. And more than likely you’ll pretty much love it.
This review is for everybody else. Those who’ve never watched any Star Wars movies (and yes, there are still plentiful numbers of these folks), and for the casual viewers – those who’ve watched them, but don’t study every frame and every scene and don’t memorize all the lines.
It’s for those who believe a movie shouldn’t just be for the diehard fans of a film franchise, and for those who feel that even though they weren’t around 42 years ago when this space soap opera first began, and may have missed some or even all previous eight outings, that they shouldn’t be completely lost and confused if they decide to make the ninth episode their virgin voyage.
For you, dear friend, “The Rise of Skywalker” may initially induce a mild headache, but thankfully, like meteors in earth’s atmosphere, it will (hopefully) pass. And stick with it, you may find a fun and entertaining adventure.
If you’ve been following this “sequel trilogy”, “The Rise of Skywalker” is a notable improvement over 2017’s “The Last Jedi”, which, while technically astute, was rather lackluster and low in energy, devoid of the heart and infectious enthusiasm of 2015’s “The Force Awakens”.
The latest film seems to strike a comfortable balance and middle ground among the three, especially if you are of the view that “The Force Awakens” was too playful (which I wasn’t).
For this concluding edition, the surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more as Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron’s journey continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences.
As this portion of the journey is coming to an end, it seems pointless now to ask some of the burning questions we’ve had since the sequel trilogy commenced, especially as one gets the sense the production team, headed by J.J. Abrams, has been making it up as they went along.
Pointless, but let’s ask anyway.
Do you really believe this was the original plan for the Daisy Ridley’s Rey character? And what happened to John Boyega’s Finn, who in “The Force Awakens” was shaping up to be a central character, and who seemed to be almost eradicated from “The Last Jedi”? While beefed up slightly here, Finn is still largely relegated to reacting loudly by shouting and screaming out the names of any other character in imminent danger.
And after all the hubbub about the series’ first Asian actor, Kelly Marie Tran, and her character Rose Tico’s extraordinary amount of screen time in “The Last Jedi”, Tran seems to have no more than five lines here. What’s up with that?
And how did they get Carrie Fisher, who tragically passed away in 2016, to play a still pretty significant role as Princess Leia? (Apparently through the use of lots of old unused footage and CGI.)
But again, these things don’t really matter much anymore.
There’s plenty steady action, hardly any fat and extraneous material and a relatively satisfying ending. And there’s a cameo by Billy Dee Williams!
There’s also a healthy dose of cheese. But that’s to be expected of the Star Wars franchise, no? That’s why people either really love or strongly hate these films. There’s something about the repartee between the characters, the goofy robots and even goofier aliens. Some are sickening and hideous, but some are incredibly cute and adorable, like the wonderful, scene-stealing Babu Frik – a sort of trippy, bizarre cross between a non-English speaking human toddler and a cat and/or poodle. I could watch two hours of this creature going about his day. (Alas, there’d sooner be nine more of these movies before that would ever happen.)
Nevertheless, whether it’s love, hate or exceptional “lukewarmness” you feel for the franchise, I doubt many would disagree that it’s time to pack it in. At least for a decade or so (or forever).
This long-running storyline has been taking on airs of an American daytime serial drama: just a never-ending and often repetitive story, with no natural conclusion in sight.
There are diehard fans who’ll tell you they’ve watched these series from day one, and they stick with them through the thick and thin, the bad years and glory days. To everyone else, though, these things are seen as big jokes.
But I’ll stop right there!
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.