The force is almost always with us in this finale.
I found myself in tears at Carrie Fisher’s final moments as Leia, filmed before her death in 2016, in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Actually, this was unreleased footage from the two previous “Star Wars” entries, but it’s still moving. It always hard losing the most important people in your life-the ones who influence you-and being that “The Rise of Skywalker” is the last film of the saga, these types of conclusions always makes me teary.
He may recycle elements from “Return of the Jedi,” but co-writer/director JJ Abrams finishes the story very well by revealing its main characters and taking risks. It involves the evil Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who was killed by Darth Vader, but came back through the process of cloning. He tells Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) that he will be leading the empire once more, and tries everything in his power to manipulate Rey (Daisy Ridley) into joining him on the Dark Side.
C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Chewy (Joonas Suotamo) and BB-8 all join Rey on her quest to end the everlasting war, and bring peace to the galaxy. But given the convoluted circumstances, it’s not always easy.
By “convoluted,” I’m deliberating on how the story gets complicated to understand at first, and scenes are predictable, but nonetheless, we’re able to acknowledge the drama from both Rey and Kylo Ren. They’re both manipulated by great power, while dueling each other with their lightsabers. Ridley and Driver both portray their characters with integrity and feelings, and McDiarmid reprises his role by delving deeper in his character’s motives.
“The Rise of Skywalker” also has a sense of humor, regarding Finn, Poe, and C-3P0, because it has some silly bickering and awkward moments. Give it up for Boyega, Isaac, and Daniels. And it also has some new characters, like Poe’s old criminal friend Zorri Bliss (Keri Russell), who’s mostly seen in her mask and costume, and a little droid named Dio, who basically has a cone for a head, one wheel, and a cute little voice. Let’s not forget that Billy Dee Williams is back as the one and only Lando Calrissian, who returns to battle on the Millennium Falcon. And there are other familiar characters you may see or hear along the way, but why don’t you just be surprised.
The visual world is still dazzling. I love gazing at the aliens, droids, and sets, which look more realistic than the CGI creatures we see today. The best sequence is a wavy ocean, which has a relic that Rey needs to find. I was reminded a bit of the ocean scene in Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” but I was more impressed with how her battle with Kylo Ren takes place.
You can pretty much tell this is like “Return of the Jedi,” because of its predictable plot twists, but it also takes risks by revealing things that we probably wouldn’t have guessed from the saga. Maybe some of us would, but I don’t dig as deep as they would. I’m no comic book nerd (no offense), but I do admire this sequel for its nostalgia and how JJ Abrams brings it all together.
This is not a full throttle “Star Wars” classic, but it is still entertaining and emotional. And I’m really going to miss these iconic characters.
May the force be with you.