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There's no doubting that the film is an action bonanza. The return of a classic villain kickstarts the film, which speeds ahead at full throttle all the way to the end, whether it be through space chases, lightsaber battles, military assaults, or just sheer action adventure hijinks. This is literally the most exciting film in the Star Wars series, because there is never a dull moment. There can't be, because the plot is stuffed to the brim with grandiose action, dramatic beats, and sprawling, epic sights.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker details the adventures of a galactic resistance force as they struggle with the return of an ancient and powerful enemy. The Light Side of the Force clashes with the Dark Side of the Force in an epic struggle that will finally determine which side prevails, with virtually every character in the previous eight Skywalker saga films joining the greatest battle the world has ever seen.
To say that there are many things happening in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is an understatement. It's almost as if the writers, knowing that this is the last Skywalker saga film, took every unused plot idea they could find and threw it into the movie — since there might never be a chance for those ideas to see the light of day. So it's not just action you get, but a breathless race from start to finish, with nary a moment of respite to mourn for those who have passed. While in theory, it might seem like a good idea to the executives, it also means that truly important beats don't get the spotlight they deserve in the frenetic pacing of the film. Sacrifices mean little when there's no time to feel their impact, and plots have to be as straightforward as possible to ensure that all of them fit into the movie. A breather was sorely needed, showing us that no matter how tight a script is, the viewer needs time to ruminate and reflect for events to have their true impact felt.
The movie is as much as a film from the classic trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return Of The Jedi) as it is of the current sequel trilogy (The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi). Virtually every character appears in the movie, whether it be through mindscapes, Force ghosts, imaginary sequences, or even just a simple voiceover. It was nice, for sure, like meeting old friends. But some felt artificially shoehorned in, like the movie knew it had to have the complete collection of characters, so it would take the flimsiest of justifications to have as many legacy characters appear as possible. While it brought back lots of nostalgia, they ultimately didn't serve the story, which was a pity. The characters could have been better utilised — but that would also mean that the run time would have increased, to more organically fit them in.
With everything but the kitchen sink in the film, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker must be a brilliant story, full of daring plot twists and unexpected revelations, right? That's where the dichotomy lies. The film plays out in a fairly straightforward way, revealing that all the intrigue and the mystery and the questions from the previous two movies were... to accomplish a villainous plot that is no different than every other mad dictator, Star Wars or otherwise, out there. Unstoppable planet destroying weapon(s) again? Check. Ruling/destroying the galaxy again? Check. The Dark Side of the Force reaching its peak again? Check. While it can be argued that this is a logical extension of what has come before, it's also like seeing the Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens and realising that, oh, they built an even bigger Death Star... again. The trailers made it seem like a Machiavellian plot that had been hatched for generations would be finally revealed, when the truth was something a little more cobbled together.
Because that's what the film feels like. It is the final chance to course correct the Star Wars franchise and make sure that everything plays out such that we get a classic ending. It leaps into this with gusto, retconning some revelations and pulling everything out of its pockets to make sure that we reach the telegraphed conclusion. For this reason, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker will be divisive. Not because it is controversial, but because it treads so safely that there's hardly any surprises, let alone controversy.
Then there's the villain of the piece, former Emperor Palpatine himself. While he was a phantom menace lurking in the prequels and a fairly good manipulator in the original trilogy, here he's really just a plot device. Of all the characters to have returned from previous films, Palpatine is perhaps the most disappointing of the lot. His plan is shockingly awful and his resources are unbelievably huge (where did they come from?).
But when all's said and done, the film tries its best to acquiesce as many desires of fans as possible. And that is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. By striving to cover every single base, it doesn't quite cover any single one with great satisfaction. It tries its best to do everything, when it really should have focused on the really important things.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is the most action-packed and most fast-paced Star Wars movie ever. But in tossing everything possible into the film, it also loses what makes all those individual elements special. It closes a classic franchise in a classic manner, but was this how it should have ended?
Running time: 142 min
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is an epic action-adventure space-opera film. It is the final film to the Star Wars sequel trilogy and the concluding movie for the entire nine-part Skywalker saga. It is also known as Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker.
The film is directed and written by J. J. Abrams, with writing credits for Chris Terrio and story credits for Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow. It stars Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Naomi Ackie (Jannah), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Richard E. Grant (Allegiant General Pryde), Lupita Nyong'o (Maz Kanata), Keri Russell (Zorri Bliss), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Ian McDiarmid (Plapatine), and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian).
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker opens in cinemas:
- 19 December, 2019 (Singapore)
- 19 December, 2019 (Malaysia)
- 20 December, 2019 (Philippines)
Marcus Goh is a television scriptwriter who writes for “Crimewatch”, as well as popular shows like “Lion Mums”, “Code of Law”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.
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