STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER | ©2019 Lucasfilm

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER | ©2019 Lucasfilm

Rating: PG-13
Stars: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, Joonas Suotamo, Keri Russell, Ian McDiarmid, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie
Writers: Chris Terrio & J.J. Abrams, story by Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow and Chris Terrio & J.J. Abrams, based on characters created by George Lucas
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: December 20, 2019

All movies are Rorschach tests to some extent. What we feel about them, what we want from them and what we see in them derives from who we are when we go into the theatre.

Even so, STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, the ninth and (reportedly) last film in the Skywalker saga, is more of a Rorschach test than most. Different viewers by now have developed particular wants and needs in relation to the STAR WARS films. What may cause one viewer to well up with emotion may tempt another to hurl footwear at the screen.

Reviewing STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is doubly tricky, because just about any plot or character references may be taken as spoilers. Based on how the last film in the series ended, it’s probably will surprise no one that as, the new film opens, the malevolent First Order and the benevolent Resistance are still trying to destroy each other. Power-hungry Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is now in charge of the First Order; General Leia (Carrie Fisher) is still running the resistance. Our heroes, Luke Skywalker’s disciple Rey (Daisy Ridley), former storm trooper Finn (John Boyega), and ace pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac), are very much in the thick of things.

It’s clear that director J.J. Abrams (returning as helmer after the seventh film, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS) and his co-screenwriter Chris Terrio have great respect for what they’re dealing with and are doing their best to pay respect to every aspect that they can. They deserve a lot of credit for keeping Leia a vital part of the story, even though actress Fisher passed away in 2016. We can tell the visual tricks they’re using, but they’re not distracting, and the General is as present as she needs to be.

The visual effects and stunts are what we’ve come to expect from STAR WARS. There are also some lovely little grace notes, including one that demonstrates laughter is universal. It’s a moment not directly connected to any of the main plotlines, but it serves to illustrate, in a very STAR WARS way, just what it is the Resistance is fighting so hard to preserve.

Ridley and Boyega are stalwart, and Isaac brings wry personality to his role. It’s definitely pleasing to see certain characters get their due, and fun to spot some name actors, mostly longtime Abrams colleagues, who pop up throughout.

But who wants what out of this? Is the STAR WARS saga a seasonal joy, a longtime love, or a piece of one’s soul? Is everything tied together, or are there loose, contradictory ends? Trying to convey how viewers may react to STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – spoiler-free, no less – is like trying to evaluate someone else’s spiritual experience after a religious ceremony, without knowing that person’s religious background in the first place. May the Force be with those who make the attempt.

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Comments:

  1. This is the most perfect review possible of ST:TRoS. I really love the review…and the film.

    Amilyn

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