Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – Film Review

Rise of the fan service – An ending that Star Wars fans will emotionally connect with.

In Rise of Skywalker another Star Wars trilogy comes to a close with the release of the final film to end the Skywalker saga started in 1977.

Star Wars - The Rise of Skywalker - Film Poster 2019
Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker – Film Poster 2019

And after a mixed reception to The Last Jedi, J.J. Abrams (The Force Awakens) is back as a safe pair of hands to guide the last film over the finishing line.

What we have here is the return to focus on the main trio of heroes – Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac) and their enjoyable interactions coupled with some good moments for Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who continues his relationship with Rey.

The latest threat is the apparent return of Emperor Palpatine and an imminent threat to the galaxy as the First Order continues to try and hunt down the Resistance.

Our heroes must try and find where Palpatine is before he can launch a final bid to subjugate the galaxy from his secret Sith hiding place.

Episode 9 is a location hopping treasure hunt with increasing dollops of fan service – back references, cameo appearances, and a finale that is designed to appeal to Star Wars nostalgia fans.

Rise of Skywalker moves along at such a breakneck pace in an action orientated spectacle, barely pausing for breath, that it feels like it’s two films in one.

It’s a good thing in a way as there’s no time to question some of the jumps in logic as Abrams tries to write around the plot threads left behind by Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

Carrie Fisher’s final appearance in Star Wars

One much publicised writing challenge was the posthumous appearance by Carrie Fisher as Leia – her scenes reconstructed from out-takes from Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Unfortunately, this was one of the less successful plot points in the film.  

There’s precious little running time to deal with the new characters introduced in this film – many of them women – as Episode 9 tries to tie up loose ends from an entire series at increasing speed.

Kelly Marie Tran (who plays Rose Tico) is just one of the women who get sidelined in this film which offers few surprises for seasoned Star Wars fans.

To be fair, many of the payoffs set up from the previous two films land well, but writing out Leia respectfully while completing a trilogy that felt like it was doing a course correction around parts of The Last Jedi was always going to be a challenge. 

And yet, despite realising that the Rise of Skywalker felt like it was trying to squeeze two movies worth of plot into less than 2.5 hours there remained a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment for a Star Wars fan.

The last half of the film was an going to hit fans with more emotion more than average film goers – casual viewers can take it or leave it.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) (12A; moderate violence, threat; 142 minutes)

Director(s): J.J. Abrams

Cast Includes: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams

Summary: STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is a sci-fi fantasy adventure in which a band of rebels make their final stand against an evil power.

Rating: **** (Rise of the fan service – Star Wars fans will love this finale, non-fans can knock a star off)

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker Trailer