Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The ninth and final outing in this 42-year-long Star Wars saga is a step up from The Last Jedi two years ago but still a disappointment – but, then again, how could it not be?

With The Force Awakens writer, director and producer J.J. Abrams replacing The Last Jedi’s Rian Johnson (a public whipping-boy for that one, although it wasn’t that bad), this reunites the new characters, drags in some old familiar faces, ties up loose ends and builds, at length, to what should be one of the grandest finales in all American cinema. But it isn’t really.

Even more dispiriting than the movie itself, however, are the rabid legions of Star Wars fans out there – amongst the most toxic in the world today – who’ll be screaming apoplectically about this until the next, essentially unrelated movie comes along in a few years time. Don’t you wish they’d all grow the Hell up?

Without mentioning any spoilers, we open with Supreme Leader of the First Order Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) travelling to discover the origins of a mysterious voice he keeps on hearing. Ren, like Voldemort, Freddy Kruger and Godzilla, simply won’t die, and Driver has trouble making him as commanding as he really should be; he comes on less like a Shakespearean villain and more a sullen teenager. Which Ren kind of is, actually.

Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Chewbacca (now played by Joonas Suotamo) are off in the Millennium Falcon, while Rey (Daisy Ridley) is Jedi-ing around as General Leia (Carrie Fisher) contributes sagely advice. The late, great Fisher has been gone for three years now and the role has been somewhat macabrely constructed here by way of unused footage, soundbites and stand-ins, and therefore Leia feels disconnected from the action. Abrams, as if feeling that her unreality must be acknowledged, even has her say, “Nothing’s impossible.”

Finn, Poe and Rey unite and set up a basic love triangle, which will disappoint some LGBT audiences who hoped the guys might have more of a bi-curious bromance, and a basic, call-back-heavy plot kicks in as they venture forth alongside C-3PO (Anthony Daniels once again) to take on Ren and his Dark-Side-ish types, which now include a sneering Richard E. Grant, no less, as Allegiant General Pryde. And it all feels just a little underwhelming, but John Williams’ done-to-death score swells to hopefully convince you that you are indeed having an awesome experience, and Ridley, in particular, acts her heart out.

But, 42 years after the first Star Wars (or Episode IV, or whatever), this can’t help but feel like a bit of a fizzer, partially because of the fact that, back in 1977, no one had ever seen a movie like Star Wars – and now we see them all the damn time, week in, week out. And yes, they’re often better.

Star Wars’ most drooling devotees won’t be pleased, but for Luke’s sake, are they ever?!

Reviewer Rating

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (M) is now screening at cinemas absolutely everywhere

DM Bradley

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