In Brief: Fans will not be disappointed. Those of us on the cusp are glad the franchise has wrapped this third of a group of three movies.
What you’re going to notice over and over again in this review is how much I dislike this movie and what happened to the Star Wars franchise. Sorry. It may even seem a bit incoherent since much of this was written at 1:00 this morning after a very long day.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker picks up where The Last Jedi left off. It continued the story of The Force Awakens. The movie is a conclusion of the third trilogy of the series. George Lucas’ episodes one through nine — those that he laid out for producers all those years ago — are finally done.
Other than the middle three that began in 1977, the rest haven’t been all that impressive. In fact, all that has been added from the original movies, is better effects. Episodes one through three and VII, VIII and now IX haven’t been all that good.
What got lost in the Star Wars mumbo jumbo that followed the original three movies is the wonderful sense of humor and the grand sense of adventure that got us to fall in love with the idea in the first place. This movie proves that point. It is dreadfully serious and totally lacking in humor. All it really manages to do is finish the story.
Daisy Ridley’s Rey and her rebels do battle with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren who is The First Order’s version of Darth Vader. By the way, is Adam Driver in every movie in 2019? Actually, it’s only four but when you consider all the work he did last year, it seems like more. That’s not a criticism. I’m a big fan.
Sorry, I digress. Back to the review, if you haven’t been keeping up — or if you don’t remember — the First Order is this series’ version of The Empire.
The movie runs 2:21 and the plot is complicated. However, it’s Star Wars so how much do you really need to know? Not much. This one is packed with Star Wars lore and is as predictable as the rest of them.
The acting — so much fun in the original series — is as wooden as the regurgitated archive footage of Carrie Fisher. She died in 2016 but is in the movie quite a bit. In fact, Fisher gets top billing.
Not that it matters.
In my book Star Wars quit being relevant when Lucas decided it was important to put episodes one through three on the big screen. The three movies — while providing much needed history — were awful.
Reboot king J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) had us all excited when he brought back some of the original cast for The Force Awakens in 2015. It picked up the Star Wars saga several years after Episode VI and was fun for about half a movie.Then Abrams made the huge mistake of killing off Han Solo.
It effectively took all the oomph out of the series. It died when Harrison Ford’s Solo bit the dust.
Worse. Two years ago Abrams was among those responsible for The Last Jedi. It led me — and many others — to wish it was the last Jedi. Nope. Now we have Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The title confused me. Didn’t Skywalker pass from this life to become one with The Force? What? Does he rise from the dead? In itself that would be a real coup because it would resurrect a franchise that ought to have moved on long ago to be one with The Force.
In the end, the new and Episodes I, II and III and the VII and VIII never managed to recover the cowboys in space adventure of the original three films.
Actually, in a way the franchise has moved into newer, more interesting pastures. The Disney TV show The Mandalorian has a storyline that’s getting rave reviews and its effects are as good — or better — than what Abrams put in the first reboot and in this movie.
That leads to the answer to a question that has been asked of me for the last several weeks. A lot of people wanted to know if I was excited to see The Rise of Skywalker. A quick read of this review pretty much tells you what I think.
But just in case you missed my point, the answer is no.
Other than the expected stunning effects, and the electricity generated by Ridley and Driver, not much in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is all that interesting. But we’re done. For the non-fan that is a blessing and proof that The Force is with us as well.
Director: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Chewbacca, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Shirley Henderson, Harrison Ford, James Earl Jones, Andy Serkis, Hayden Christiansen, Samuel L. Jackson, Alec Guiness, Frank Oz, Freddie Prinze Jr., Liam Neeson
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some violence. The wrap up of the last three episodes is an anti-climax. Fans will think it’s great. I didn’t. Give it a 2 1/2 on the Friday Flicks with Gary o to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.