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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker review – a fittingly nostalgic send-off | reviews, news & interviews

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker review – a fittingly nostalgic send-off

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker review – a fittingly nostalgic send-off

J.J. Abrams helms the final instalment of the nine-film, 42-year space saga

I've got it Chewie. Joonas Suotamo, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: 'The Rise of Skywalker'

So here we are. The final instalment of a nine-film saga, three trilogies across 42 years. It’s debatable what would be harder – saving that galaxy "far, far away", or giving millions of Star Wars fans the send-off they crave. J.J. Abrams certainly had his work cut out. But, with a few provisos, he’s succeeded.

So here we are. The final instalment of a nine-film saga, three trilogies across 42 years. It’s debatable what would be harder – saving that galaxy "far, far away", or giving millions of Star Wars fans the send-off they crave. J.J. Abrams certainly had his work cut out. But, with a few provisos, he’s succeeded. The Rise of Skywalker is epic, spectacular, surprising and, most importantly, brings its human stories to resolutions that brim with emotion. 

The plight of the rebel alliance is more dire than ever. Supreme Leader Snoke may have been despatched by his disciple Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in the previous film, but he’s simply been replaced by an even more evil baddie from the past. Emperor Palpatine is back from the dead with an enormous fleet that’s about to transform the First Order of fascist bad guys into the Final Order – which surely spells Last Orders. First he wants Ren to kill rebel poster girl Rey (Daisy Ridley). Which begs the perennial question: who is she? 

While the plot is driven by the rebels’ search for Palpatine’s secret planet, so they can thwart the fleet, the real business is on the human scale: the orphaned Rey’s desire to learn her true identity, the outcome of her love-hate battle with Ren, his need to deal with his patricidal misdeeds, the question of which Skywalker the title alludes to.One also can’t help wondering who’s going to hook up with whom, from a pot that includes Rey, dashing fighter pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac), former stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and plucky resistance mechanic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), along with a few, potentially romantic newcomers.

It isn’t without hiccups: ropey dialogue, over-forced sentimentality, the frustrating introduction of appealing new characters (particularly Brit Naomi Ackie’s rebel warrior, pictured above) with insufficient time to get to know them. The first hour is a rush of action, some of it impressive, but making it difficult for the camaraderie of its heroic triumvirate of Rey, Poe and Finn to assert itself. 

The film actually hits its stride whenever Rey and Ren share the screen, action and psychological drama dovetailing with the clash of their light sabres. Highlights include Ridley’s awesome encounter with his TIE fighter in the desert, and a thrilling duel aboard the ruined Death Star in a raging sea, with a shocking psychic intervention by Princess Leia (the late Carrie Fisher tastefully maintained by special effects) followed by a completely unexpected, deeply touching guest appearance.Ultimately, it’s Ridley’s film. She works wonders with the eventual revelation and consequences of Rey’s identity, while enjoying her transformation into a one-woman Jedi army. But Driver also does excellent work with Ren’s arc; rarely has seething rage dissipated in such a fittingly beautiful way. Other characters fare less well, and the bond between Rey and Finn that started so promisingly in The Force Awakens has gone nowhere since. 

It’s hard not to feel a massive nostalgic lump in ones throat when hearing John Williams’ iconic score at its most rousing, or seeing a return to where it all began, the Skywalkers’ dusty abode on Tatooine, all those moons ago. 

The film hits its stride whenever Rey and Ren share the screen

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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