Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Cover

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams impresses me with his ability to direct a story that is told in a clear, engaging, and tight manner. There are side quests that certainly could have been cut, shortened, or altered to take up less running time. However, the overarching story is interestingly epic and gives each pivotal character a fantastic arc.

A year after the events of The Last Jedi, darkness continues to push Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to rid the Jedi. Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and the rest of the Resistance, led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher), must face off against the forces of evil in order to save those whom they love.

The film starts off intriguingly, wasting no time establishing character goals and motivations. From the first twenty minutes, I was highly invested in seeing what would happen to all of the characters and felt some real suspense, wondering how it would all conclude. The Rise of Skywalker is a film that is communicated in such a clear manner that someone who has generally kept up with the narrative can follow along and not be bogged down by convoluted Star Wars jargon. The plot is simple, effective, and the pacing is more upbeat than some of the other films (although some fluff is still present in this 2 hour and 22 minute film).

The cinematography, visual effects, and score all come together to create several beautiful vibrant eye-catching sequences that are action-packed, often epic, and even sometimes emotional. Specifically, the action scenes in The Rise of Skywalker are shot and edited extremely well; from spaceship and lightsaber battles, scenes are full of high-saturated colors and are impressive. Some action sequences run too long but that is coming from someone who is not the biggest lover of elongated action scenes.

While the setup and conclusion are executed in a gripping way, there are some side quests that easily could have been cut or altered to save time and get to the point even faster. For example, our protagonists find a dagger that has an important message on it written in an unrecognizable “sith language”. Unfortunately, C3P0 is forbidden to translate it. This is an interesting situation; our droid friend has information helpful to his allies but due to the way he is programmed, he can’t fork up the translation. I wouldn’t have minded if a few minutes were spent on persuading him to translate it or the heroes themselves reprogramming C3P0. Instead, we get a fair share of time spent on our heroes having to go to a new location to find someone who can assist with the conundrum and by the end of the film, these scenes do not feel so important. While this is my “biggest” complaint with The Rise of Skywalker, it is ultimately very minute, as there is a lot to love and digest.

The finale is epic. Everything I said of the action scenes applies to the finale; but not only are these scenes beautiful– they are poignantly unique. From strobe lighting, to the way lightsabers are used, and the way all of the special effects and sounds (and lack of) are implemented, I was in awe of how all of these elements were stitched together to finish off the climactic arc in the film.

The amount of footage that Disney had of Carrie Fisher was spectacular and worked tremendously well. The manner in which Abrams and the writing team utilized her character was satisfying, fitting, and touching.

Themes related to confronting fear, accepting who you are, who you are not, forgiveness, and ones’ destiny are all themes explored in The Rise of Skywalker. I will not spoil any of the plot in order to explain how the themes are prevalent but I found the themes to positive ones that were implemented seamlessly.

Overall, Episode IX may be my favorite film in the franchise due to the way it spectacularly grows its already-developed characters, delivers on epic action, and concludes a saga that has spanned decades.

Final Verdict:Spectacularly handles characters, delivers on epic action, and concludes a saga that has spanned decades.