- Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019), rated M for science fiction violence
That of course is the Australian rating; in the United States, it’s rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action.
As usual, I’ll include the trailer at the end – and a clip, IF I can find one (and this early into this release, that’s no guarantee).
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD. PROCEED AT OWN RISK.
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
The Skywalker Saga has finally come to an end… for the 3rd time! (This is the absolute final time… apparently.) In 1983, it seemed – for years to come – that the saga had finally ended with Return of the Jedi. Then, 16 years later the Prequels came along, and for the better part of a decade it seemed the saga ended with Revenge of the Sith in 2005 (arguably the best of the franchise). Then came the Sequels and Anthology – aka the Disney Era. The mock cynicism with which I say “It’s ending… again!” certainly doesn’t match my mood coming out of the theatre, however. JJ Abrams Episode IX is one of the franchise’s best installments to date, and a beautiful farewell to the characters we all know and love. (And boy, was it hard to sit on this review for more than a week!)
About a year after the events of The Last Jedi, a broadcast from the former Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) – apparently killed by Luke Skywalker 31 years earlier in Return of the Jedi – is heard across the galaxy, sparking panic. The First Order and the Resistance both mobilise in response. The FO’s Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is determined to quash any and all threats to his rule. He tracks the undead Emperor to the uncharted Sith planet Exogol, where the Emperor reveals he created former Supreme Leader Snoke to lure Ren to the Dark Side. He unveils a gigantic armada of ships with which he plans to take over the Galaxy very, very soon – and promises to assist Ren and the FO if he will kill Rey (Daisy Ridley). Meanwhile, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) of the Resistance sends out Rey – with Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and BB8 – to Pasaana, where an ally might help them track down the former Emperor.
Right from the beginning, The Rise of Skywalker well and truly drew me in. The opening crawl had an eye-catching beginning (“The dead speak!”), and was quick and to the point, clearly establishing the context. Even better, though, is the movie’s beginning with a great action scene on the molten planet Mustafar (climatic setting of Revenge of the Sith, briefly seen in Rogue One), as Kylo Ren searches for the Sith wayfinder that holds the secret to Palpy’s location.
Like Revenge of the Sith, Episode IX remains action-packed and thrilling from start to finish, across a multitude of planets and situations, as Rey and Ren come closer to the inevitable showdown – and both come close to the final decision as to whose side they’re truly on. Easily one of the most exciting of the Star Wars movies – particularly the spectacular climax, which rivals the best scenes of all the previous movies (aided by the MASSIVE stakes!). If you’re after FUN (or good old-fashioned Star Wars), you’re sure as hell gonna get it!
At the same time, The Rise of Skywalker is a very plot-centric film, and like Revenge, packs as much plot (and plot threads) in as possible. Some felt that this made the movie feel overstuffed, but that wasn’t the case for me; while there were some occasional moments when I felt some more work could’ve been done, I found it very satisfying. The plot & its threads are handled quite well, and there are some great surprises and twists and turns – all the more surprising considering its predecessor.
The acting in this film is solid; Daisy Ridley in particular pulls a fantastic performance as Rey, who must come to grips with her identity and her allegiance, and her place in all this.
Adam Driver also gives a particularly great performance as Ben Solo/Kylo Ren – possibly his best to date – as the scheming Supreme Leader of the First Order who also struggles with his identity and his allegiance.
And let’s not forget Ian McDiarmid, who gives an absolutely perfect reprisal as the previously-killed Emperor Sheev Palpatine!
Oscar Isaac and John Boyega are also good in their reprisal of Poe Dameron and Finn, respectively.
Billy Dee Williams is also great – and appears to be having a lot of fun – in his return as Lando Calrissian.
Anthony Daniels provides another great performance as C-3PO, and this time gets a much more substantial role than in his last 3 appearances (which Daniels had complained about).
I also rather liked the incorporation of the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, using (probably tweaked) unused footage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. She was a nice inclusion, and received an appropriate send-off.
I also rather liked the new characters – particularly Poe’s old friend (flame?) Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell), Babu Frick (Shirley Henderson) (absolutely adorable) and former Stormtrooper Jannah (Naomie Ackie).
I would discuss other actors, but that would entail spoilers – some of them BIG! Which is another great aspect of Skywalker: it ties back to – and has appearances and cameos related to – as many of the Star Wars movies as possible; possibly all of them (the Skywalker Saga ones, anyway). Abrams seems intent on bringing back – even if it’s only for a couple lines – as many of the actors & characters as possible, as well as as many of the locales. It’s not only fitting and appropriate for the ending to the saga, but it’s a HUGE nostalgia fest! The nostalgia factor alone is a great reason to go watch it. (Some of the cameos – one in particular – surprised even me.)
The film is also quite emotional – again, fitting for the final farewell to our beloved original characters and their story. (It’s also notable that several scenes feel like a direct response to some of the criticisms leveled against the Sequel Trilogy, and make some of them untenable. Which is a plus for me!)
And then there’s the special effects; it goes without saying that a Star Wars movie will ALWAYS have great special effects, and The Rise of Skywalker absolutely nails them.
Someone once said that one of the great things about Star Wars was that just about EVERY shot from EVERY movie – regardless of the movie’s quality – makes a great poster/wallpaper/background image (I use a number of them as wallpaper for my laptop). It’s definitely true here!
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker is a great adventure, and a fantastic, epic, emotionally satisfying, and all-round perfect conclusion to the Skywalker Saga, and is easily one of the best Star Wars movies to date! (I sometimes think it rivals Revenge of the Sith.)
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a real clip – there are some short 30-second (or less) excerpts of clips accompanied by a full-length trailer, though, for anyone interested. (Try googling “the rise of skywalker clip”.)