Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, rated PG-13
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the ninth and concluding film in the Skywalker saga, bringing together the original films, the prequels, and the sequels. In order to achieve that, the film has to address various plot holes and threads from previous films and resolve questions. The result is an entertaining conclusion, and one of my favorite films of the year. The film is directed by two-time Emmy winner J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Westworld, Lost), who took over from Colin Trevorrow, who left after “creative differences”. The film was written by Abrams, Oscar winner Chris Terrio (Argo), Derek Connolly (Jurassic World films), and Trevorrow (Jurassic World films). The film had an estimated budget of $200 million.
The film opens one year after the Battle of Crait (from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi). Kylo Ren, formerly known as Ben Solo, the son of Princess Lea and Hans Solo, is now Supreme Leader of the First Order, played by Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman, Marriage Story). He has obtained a Sith wayfinder device and travels to the planet Exego. There he finds Sith Lord Emperor Sheev Palpatine, played by Ian McDiarmid, who in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, was killed by Darth Vader to stop him from killing his son Luke Skywalker. But through unnatural powers, Palpatine is now alive. Like Satan promised Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he would bow down and worship him (Matthew 4: 8-9), Emperor Palpatine promises Kylo command of his planet killing Star Destroyers as long as he ends the Jedi order by killing Rey, played by Daisy Ridley.
Among Palpatine’s leaders are Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as General Pryde and Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter films), as General Hux, who plays a key role in the story.
The Resistance is led by General Leia, played by three-time Emmy nominee Carrie Fischer who died in 2016, (using unused footage from previous films), and includes Poe, played by Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac (Show Me a Hero), Finn, played by John Boyega, Rose, played by Kelly Marie Tran, Chewbacca, played by Joonas Suotamo, and C-3PO, played by Anthony Daniels, as well as others, but their numbers are dwindling. The news that Palpatine is alive means that they need to act quickly or face complete destruction. General Leia sends Rey, who is continuing her Jedi training, to find the base so that the Rebellion can destroy the Emperor and his Final Order. She and her crew must find a Sith wayfinder in order to find Palpatine. This leads them on a long, planet-hopping adventure as they try to stay a step ahead of Kylo.
There is also a minor subplot with Poe and an old friend criminal Zorii Bliss, played by Golden Globe winner Keri Russell (Felicity). They knew each other when Poe was a spice runner.
The film contains many surprises and plot twists, has lots of loose ends to tie up and the big questions get answered. But no spoilers here. Although I’ve seen all of the films in the series, I’m certainly not a Star Wars expert, but have always found them to be entertaining. Fans of the films will be thrilled to see many familiar and loved characters such as 82-year-old Emmy nominee Billy Dee Williams (Brian’s Song), as Lando Calrissian, in his first Star Wars film since 1983, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, and Oscar nominee Harrison Ford (Witness), as Han Solo. There are satisfying resolutions for the stories Rey, Poe, Kylo/Ben, Chewbacca, Palpatine, General Leia, and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2.
The film is visually stunning and action packed, including of course several thrilling lightsaber battles. The musical score is by five-time Oscar winner John Williams (Schindler’s List, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Wars, Jaws, Fiddler on the Roof), his ninth Star Wars film.
Themes in the film includes love, heroism, courage, sacrifice and friendship, and hope.
Content concerns include the spiritual “Force”, the expected science fiction violence, some light adult language and a same-sex kiss.
The film may remind you a bit of Avengers: Endgame, as it tries to wrap everything up, just as that film did. I found Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to be an exciting and entertaining conclusion of the Skywalker saga.