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The Rise Of Skywalker

When I sit down to watch a movie to review, I always try to approach it with a completely open mind. I attempt to leave all preconceived notions and beliefs checked at that door, because at the end of the day,I know that it’s my job to be as objective as possible. But, as it turns out, I’m a fallible human being, and sometimes, this philosophy is much easier to preach than to practice. For example, when it comes to STAR WARS, I tend to gloss over its flaws, and focus solely on the good. I’m the guy, in fact, who wrote favorably of all three of the prequels, and absolutely adored the new additions to the Skywalker saga, THE FORCE AWAKENS and THE LAST JEDI.

I mention all of this, because I found J.J. Abram’s return to the franchise, THE RISE OF SKYWALKER to be every bit as thrilling, engaging, and satisfying as one could have hoped. Like I have felt every single time that I’ve seen it since I was 10 years old, the moment the phrase“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” flashed across the screen, and I heard the opening blasts of the legendary theme, I was utterly elated.

Time has passed since Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) gave his life to aid the rebellion, and though his sacrifice was commendable, the First Order is still as strong as ever. While Leia (Carrie Fisher), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) hunt for a way to destroy the evil army and restore harmony to the galaxy, Rey (Daisy Riley) is training to hone her Jedi skills. She does not know exactly how these powers will aid them in their crusade, she simply knows that there will be a time when she will need to rely on the Force to help establish peace for all.

Meanwhile, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has been receiving communications from Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who was last seen plummeting down into the depths of the doomed Death Star. Ren views these messages as a threat to his rising power, and longs to end the Emperor, once and for all. When he finally tracks him down, however, his plans change dramatically. Palpatine has been building an army and fleet that is unlike anything that has become before it, and possesses to the ability to destroy all of those who refuse to concede and cower. He’s willing to hand the reins over to Ren, only if he succeeds in slaying Rey, and obliterating the Jedi for good.

There a few moments in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER that feel clunky, and some of the dialogue is a bit hokey, even by STAR WARS standards. There are a number of situations that unfold a little too conveniently in an obvious effort to wrap everything up with a tidy bow, and I would imagine that some fans, and slew of critics, will take umbrage with this approach. Abrams makes obvious attempts to correct course on some of the directorial decisions made by Rian Johnson in THE LAST JEDI, which was unnecessary. At the end of the day though, this is the ninth chapter in an epic saga. If ever there was a time for fan service and pay offs, this is it. It seems as if Abrams embraced this philosophy, and certainly delivered the goods. There are countless references, set pieces, and characters that will delight the most savvy of STAR WARS fanatics. A huge part of the fun of THE RISE OF SKYWALKER are found in these moments, as it rewards those who have been along for the ride since the very beginning.

As expected, Episode IX is chock full of bombastic, beautiful action sequences that fill the screen and dazzle at every turn. From Poe and Finn fleeing a fleet of TIE fighters, to a light-saber clash aboard a familiar fallen vessel, to a climactic battle between the rebels and the newly-formed Final Order, Abrams certainly has a gift for blockbuster filmmaking. Every frame in these sequences is stuffed with impeccable detail and eye-popping effects, so much so that it proves impossible to take it all in with one viewing. These moments are literally jaw-dropping, as proven by the faces by my two ecstatic children as the soaked in every second of the show-stopping spectacle.

Cheesy moments aside, the trademark humor of the franchise is found throughout, and the story will prove to be engaging for those who have remained locked in to the saga from its inception. Nine films in, there was no reason for Abrams to attempt to win over a new audience or draw in the casual fans. I would imagine that most will be enthralled with what unfolds, and though sad to see many of these characters go, will be satisfied with the journey that we all took together.


A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas for allowing me to attend this month’s film.

Brian Miller