After 42 years we are told that this is the end of the road for a space saga that we all know and love. I’m not entirely sure that this will be the case, as lucrative franchises never truly die, but for now at least, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of a historic era.
The toxic fandom of recent years has meant that every entry into this saga has been met with a barrage of haters to counter the lovers of this new trilogy. I think for any review to really work, you need to look at things objectively. First off, this is a spoiler-free review so you won’t find anything here to ruin the movie-going experience.
I come from the first era of the franchise, and love the original trilogy very much. The prequel trilogy has, over the years, aged a lot better than expected. This new trilogy undoubtedly offers a new generation of fans a sip of a drink that we’ve all already got drunk on, and rightly so. But it’s hard for me to look at this new trilogy as anything more than just an expensive exercise into fan-fiction. Rogue One remains the best modern Star Wars film to be made, and feels like the only sequel worth tagging onto the original 6 movies.
Now that’s not to say that this new trilogy contains bad films, because it absolutely doesn’t. The Force Awakens played to similar beats that we all know and love and got interest back into the franchise, and The Last Jedi had its moments. But in a bid to retcon what we take as gospel in the Star Wars universe, this new trilogy has delivered a ‘take’ on Star Wars that feels at odds with the themes and style of the first 6 movies. I have no real qualms about the films existing, but hand on heart; they don’t feel like chapters 7-9 of a linear story.
I made my peace with that a long time ago and as a result I try to enjoy these films for what they are. As a popcorn-munching matinee adventure, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker delivers a very enjoyable piece of spectacle that frequently delivers cool moments. As this is a spoiler-free review I won’t go into depth, but the plot involves the First Order making a big move to win the war, and our heroes making a stand against a re-galvanised enemy, now headed by Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
The story takes some interesting and odd turns. Some threads land better than others, but it’s clear that director J. J. Abrams has a clear vision of what he wanted. This feels like a Star Wars film in terms of the action and character development, but perhaps it panders too much to fan expectation rather than establish its own identity. The central trio of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac do very well and keep you invested. Adam Driver once again effortlessly steals the film, and has the best action scenes too.
I wasn’t happy with how they handled a pretty big plot development. It’s so early on in the film (in the opening credits in fact) that it completely disrupts what could have been a very interesting and suspenseful journey for the characters to discover. With that decision made, the plot hurtles towards its finale without really pillaging any of the emotional depth it could have explored in further detail – something which the film would have certainly benefitted from.
Kelly Marie Tran seems to have got the roughest deal here because after a promising start, he character is relegated to just set-dressing now. I don’t know if that’s to do with the fan backlash unfairly aimed at her after the release of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, but either way she deserved better. Carrie Fisher gets a nice tribute in the film, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) finally gets some recognition for his efforts, Richard E. Grant brilliantly chews his scenes as Allegiant General Pryde and Billy Dee Williams is still cool as ever as Lando Calrissian.
Given the scale of what this film is trying to achieve, I didn’t think there was enough of an emotional pull at the finale and that’s quite a ball to drop after 4 decades of set-up (which is also why I don’t think we are done with the ‘Skywalker’ saga just yet). There’s so much to explore, explain and redress – it’s a dream project for someone 10 years down the line. Even if the story gives you plenty of head-scratching moments in terms of narrative choices, you can rest assured that the spectacle keeps you on the edge of your seat. This is a fun movie to watch without the baggage of the past weighing down your expectations.
The IMAX release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality – The IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images, coupled with IMAX’s customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.
Now I’m a massive fan of IMAX and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is, without doubt, best served by witnessing it in the format. But it’s more than just the crystal clear images, the vibrant colours that pierce and absorb your attention or the giant canvas of a screen that paints this picture in the biggest and best way possible. It adds true immersion to the movie-going experience and for a film like The Rise of Skywalker, that’s invaluable. If you can afford the uplift then IMAX is the best way to watch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
If you think about it too much then it’s very easy to pick apart. But if you can just go and enjoy it for what it is, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a lot of fun and certainly the best blockbuster of the Christmas season. With plenty of wacky characters, some good fight sequences and a culmination of a trilogy-story that, let’s be honest, was always walking uphill, The Rise of Skywalker provides lots of good family entertainment. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all meant to be about?
Tickets are available now at http://po.st/RiseofSkywalkerIMAX.
Cast: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, Richard E. Grant, Billy Dee Williams, Domhnall Gleeson, Ian McDiarmid, Mark Hamill, Kelly Marie Tran, Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Ackie, Jimmy Vee, Dave Chapman Director: J.J. Abrams Writer: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, Chris Terrio, J.J. Abrams Certificate: 12A Duration: 141mins Released by: Disney Release date: 19th December 2019