Rise of Skywalker

Once again, another movie comes out that is meant to wrap up a franchise. And for the third time in my lifetime, that franchise is Star Wars. 
We learn from the opening crawl, that the galaxy has been receiving ominous messages from the previously thought to be dead Emperor Palpatine (played by the returning Ian McDiarmid). As a result, both sides are going to great lengths to confirm it is possible by finding where he is hiding. 
Kyle Ren (Adam Driver), now the reigning Supreme Leader of the First Order, fears the threat to his power that Palapatine poses and is the first to locate him on the hidden planet of Exegol by using a Sith wayfinder. He discovers a physically impaired Palpatine, who reveals that he created the previous Supreme Leader Snoke as a puppet to control the First Order and lure Kylo to the dark side. Palpatine unveils a secret armada of Star Destroyers with advanced weaponry, and tells Kylo to find and kill Rey, who is continuing her Jedi training under General Leia Organa. 
Rey's friends Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscars Isaacs) and Chewbacca receive word of Kylo's discovery from a First Order spy and all four of them set out with C3P-0 on the Millennium Falcon to find another Sith wayfinder that was once sought by Luke Skywalker. Along the way they encounter an old ally Lando Calrissian  (Billy Dee Williams), and are introduced to a new one, Zorri Bliss (played by a face-covered Keri Russell). 
Their quest is made more difficult by the fact that Kylo can track them all easily due to him and Rey still being linked through the force, which not only allows them to see each other, but transfer physical objects as well. So the gang is constantly on the run from him and his Knights of Ren who finally make their appearance since they were first hinted to in “The Force Awakens”. Star Wars fanatics are likely to be disappointed with the somewhat lackluster reveal, but it’s far from the lone element people are likely to take issue with. 
If there are two constants about Star Wars movies, they are: 
One: To a Star Wars fan, there is no such thing as a bad Star Wars movie.
Two: There is no such thing as a Star Wars movie that a fan can’t find a fault to complain about (Particularly when it comes to the films that came after the original trilogy). 
The makers of “The Rise of Skywalker” were given an impossible task to accomplish. How can you wrap up a nine-movie saga that spanned more than 40 years? These films get teased for years before their release through Comic-Con promos, trailers and carefully crafted stories in the press, there’s no way they can possibly live up to whatever fans have built up in their minds. 
Every Star Wars movie is a great Star Wars movie, and I feel the same heart-pounding excitement every time that giant “STAR WARS” appears on the screen accompanied by that familiar John Williams music (no matter how Jar-Jar laden the movie may have been). And say what you will about “Phantom Menace”, after seeing those highly choreographed lightsaber scenes, the ones from the original trilogy seem awkward, clunky and lame by comparison. 
Mistakes made in the movie are pretty obvious. The reveal of the “Knights of Ren” gave us a small bunch of masked, cloaked, silent people who don’t really do anything until a single scene near the end; and they don’t even battle with lightsabers. The back-stories of Poe, Finn, and of course Rey’s parentage are all touched on but not really explained in any significant detail. I’m sure there are those who would’ve liked to learn more, but there was already so much that had to be squeezed into the film, and it wasn’t really needed to move things along. I got the distinct feeling that these characters were likely to be explored further in solo projects yet to come. Either as stand-alone movies, or as a series on the new Disney streaming service. 
As far as casting goes, it’s a foregone conclusion on who would be appearing. The only issue here would be with the script and the fact that some deserved more screen time. I always thought that the character Maz Kanata (voiced by Lupita Nyong’o) was very interesting, and was disappointed that she was so underused in The Last Jedi. She got a little more screen time in this last movie, but there wasn’t much done to show why she needed to be there in the first place (and we never find out how she got Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber). I know the Star Wars franchise tends to shy away from using any “name actors” in their roles, so why bother to use an actress like Keri Russell in the role of Zorii Bliss when you’re not even going to show her face? Out of all the characters, I think that Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) got cheated the most. After playing such a pivotal role in The Last Jedi and establishing the relationship between her and Finn, I think she deserved to have been included on the quest with Rey, Poe and Finn. I think the addition of Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) was a great idea, but he seemed to be little more than an addition to use as a hook in the film’s trailer. Perhaps they will all get their due in solo/spin-off projects. 
Then finally, I think it was wonderful that they were able to include Princess Leia (played by the very missed Carrie Fisher) In the film at all. They got to give her a proper emotional farewell, and there’s a part of me that wishes I could see a copy of the movie script as it was before Carrie died. I wonder how different the movie would’ve been? 
Ordinarily, sci-fi films (especially those in a franchise) do not have a mass appeal. Fortunately though, Star Wars is the original blockbuster franchise from before there was such a thing. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t watched all the films that came before it, as such the number of people this film appeals to is way higher than the number of people it won’t. 
In the end, I felt Rise of Skywalker was a great end to an iconic saga, and is a credit to it’s genre. The movie is very watchable, fast-paced with lots of great action and great visuals. It never drags or gets boring, and keeps your attention until the very end.
I feel proud that I got to see the end of yet another Star Wars trilogy, and I can help but feel sad that there may never be another. Of course, even if there is, I doubt that it will ever be able to have the same significance again.

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