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

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After eight installments, the Skywalker saga of the Star Wars universe has come to an end as one is set to rise, and one is set to fall…permanently.

After the disappearance of Luke Skywalker and his former protégé Kylo Ren becoming the new Supreme Leader, a major event has been discovered. Long thought to be dead, Emperor Palpatine has not only been found alive, but his intentions are crystal clear. When Kylo Ren learns of Palpatine, he initially intends to kill him. However, he soon learns that Palpatine does intend to bring the Sith back to power, but from a new unlikely source.

Meanwhile, Luke’s final protégé, Rey, has been diligently training in the continued efforts to lead the war between the re-emerged Rebellion and the First Order. Rey’s friends Poe Dameron and Finn have learned that there is a spy within the First Order giving a message to General Leia Organa. When they learn that Palpatine is alive and well, they also discover that he plans to make a Final Order, which will destroy all free worlds. As Rey and her friends embark on a quest, they will encounter new friends, old friends, tragedy, and a shocking discovery that may make an impact on what is destined to be the final battle between the two factions.

It has finally come to an end. From 1977’s A New Hope to 1983’s Return of the Jedi and the 1999-2003 prequels that revolved around Anakin Skywalker’s origins to his eventual turn as Darth Vader, this final trilogy marks an official end to the Skywalker saga. With 2015’s The Force Awakens and 2017’s The Last Jedi, which the latter was met with resistance due to its having a bit more comic overtones (yet I enjoyed it), this final installment has some brief comic bits but also has a balance in the form of its dramatic effect and while fans were having hope that Colin Trevorrow could have ended it with a major reckoning of a film, J.J. Abrams returns to the fold and well, he gives it more of a safe ending but not without unleashing some major twists.

The opening itself was quite a shocker because we see the return of the man who has caused nothing but strife and tragedy since the saga began and we do mean Emperor Palpatine, played by the returning Ian McDiarmid. It’s clear that Palpatine has waited 35 years to embark on making the Sith the ultimate force in the universe and will go to great means to become just that, but when his plans are slowly revealed throughout the film, it becomes both shocking and unpredictable.

One of the more interesting aspects of this installment is the relationship between Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. While Rey has made it clear that she is now the Last Jedi, she will do what it takes to keep the legacy alive. As for Kylo Ren, he is given a bit of a shock when he discovers who made him turn to the Dark Side. Here’s where things become extremely interesting. When they interact via The Force, they are able to bring objects from their respective worlds into the other’s. That makes for some interesting twists in their stories as well as what’s in store for these two.

While it is sad to see Carrie Fisher in her final film performance let alone her final performance as Leia, it is in a way balanced to see the triumphant return of Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams as well as a surprise appearance from Denis Lawson’s Wedge Antilles, who helped in the Death Star battle of A New Hope. The final battle is quite a major surprise as it may have a bit of the same length as the final epic battle of Avengers: Endgame, but for some reason, it plays off quite well especially when Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio just add a few more twists in order to finally put an end to the saga.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker has taken a safe route to end an epic saga, and it is pretty well done. However, Abrams seems to have kept a few elements of the resisted Last Jedi because it seems to fit certain characters (Poe Dameron anyone?). Altogether, a fitting end to an epic saga that lasted a total of 42 years!

WFG RATING: B+

Disney presents a LucasFilm/Bad Robot production. Director: J.J. Abrams. Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan. Writers: J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio; story by Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio; based on characters created by George Lucas and J.J. Abrams. Cinematography: Dan Mindel. Editing: Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube.

Cast: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotama, Billy Dee Williams, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyogo’o, Keri Russell, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, Denis Lawson, Greg Grunberg, Billie Lourd.

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