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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

When you realize it’s the planet on the horizon that you were supposed to land on.

Synopsis: Good vs. evil in Space. The finish of the Skywalker saga.

Have there really been nine Star Wars Skywalker movies? Yes! I know this because IMDB tells me that the full title of the latest is Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. The filmmakers claim that this is the final installment in the Skywalker saga that began with Star Wars in 1977.

I must admit that my Star Wars knowledge is incomplete; I haven’t even seen Episode 8. Seeing memes of Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, shirtless and in impossibly high-waisted pants lets me know all that must be known about the movie. And about pants fashions in other galaxies.

I do know the basic canon: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo wage battle against bad guys in outer space with the help of assorted humans and aliens. The latest generation of good guys are led by Rey, Finn and Poe. Early on the Nazi-types were the Empire and now they are the First Order. Same difference.

The Rise of Skywalker (TRoS) is big and unwieldly. Within the saga, it’s like a cargo plane, and you are the passenger getting where you need to go without the exhilaration of, say, flying in a jet fighter. In Star Wars geek-speak: TRoS is a U-Wing Support Craft and your fave episode (maybe, The Empire Strikes Back or The Last Jedi) is a Jedi Starfighter.

TRoS has our good guys (Rey, Finn & Poe) on a high speed scavenger hunt for an object that could be the key to winning the latest galaxy war. It’s rough going for the team, but especially for Chewbacca. Poor Chewie has the toughest time and I’ve always felt like he was swept into fighting a battle that had nothing to do with him or his fellow Wookiees. Maybe he knows this too and that’s why he often throws back his mighty furred head and lets out that existential groan-bellow.

The filmmakers obviously thought it was too late in the game to create new villains so they have re-animated  some old ghoul named Palpatine who begins the episode by taunting  Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) that he is merely his puppet. But Kylo intones: I killed Snoke. I’ll kill you. (Who the hell is Snoke, I wondered) But the old ghoul is unafraid. Kylo thinks he is awesome AF because he has retrieved a cheapy-looking coffee mug-sized pyramid. This is something that the good guys need too. Also, our friends have a dagger with some mysterious message inscribed upon it.

When we first see Rey (Daisy Ridley) she is floating around meditating like she is at some hardcore yoga retreat. Once in awhile Kylo Ren gets in her head and says menacing things, much like Voldemort did to Harry Potter. These visions let Rey know that she has to go flying around the galaxy with Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), looking for the key to good winning over evil. The pyramid holds an awesome power (I guess) and the dagger will lead them to it. And/or lead them to Kylo where he and Rey are going to have it out.

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Just notified that he is contractually obligated to do Girls film with Lena Dunham

I never got past Astronomy 101, but I think it would take longer to get from one planet to the next than it appears to in the movie… One afternoon they are at a desert planet clue-hunting at a disco and the next morning they are back to the Jedi headquarters planet, (which looks like the type of big unkempt jungle yard you’d find on the outskirts of Tampa) and off to another planet (or big ship?), where Kylo’s bedroom is situated. Kylo gives a place of honor to Darth Vader’s semi-melted mask. It looks like what the final product would be if I tried to make a Darth Vader helmet cake. When Rey sees this she is disturbed, but only has a moment to reflect on how mad Kylo must be to have this in his room, because she has to keep busy running to and fro in her quest to save the galaxy from evil.

Whenever our heroes land, they get into fights where they have to dodge space gun blasts that send up explosions of white sparks (festive!) or Rey has to have a light saber fight with someone. Her biggest rival, of course, is Kylo. In TRoS, Kylo tries out a new look; he repairs his dirt biker full face helmet with red caulk. When he takes his helmet off, he scowls at everyone in the manner Adam Driver might if an entertainment journalist asked him one too many questions. As we know, he’s a complete psycho who either wants Rey to rule beside him in some Future Nazi Empire or he wants to fight her to the death. She wants him to be good “Ben” and not bad Ren. Rey cannot be corrupted!

Things heat up and get increasingly creepier when Palpatine (the old ghoul) cackles and legions of robed Siths chant evil chants and slowly march forward. But maybe they were just holograms? There are a fair number of tricksy holograms in TRoS to keep you off balance.

Phew! So much to unload in this last of the Skywalker movies. But I think I’ve avoided any spoilers. Mostly because there was too much to keep track of. O! But do keep an eye open for Lando Calrissain who may pop up in a golf shirt from time to time. I think he lives on some nearby golf course planet.

Expect to sit through a mediocre first half with a fair amount of fan fiction-esque dialog. Sample…Old Ghoul: I am all the Sith!   Rey: And I…am all the Jedi!  The last half of the movie lets Rey shine, especially in an awesome saber battle among crashing waves.

And now that director J.J. Abrams has finished his Star Wars work, he can get back to work on Star Trek. I’m hoping the crew drops by Endor, so we can spend some much needed time with the singing teddies known as Ewoks.  Yub Nub!

Movie Loon’s Movie Review Shortcut:

Grade:   B-

Cut to the Chase:   An okay finish to the Star Wars Skywalker saga. But better than average entertainment overall.

Humor Highlight:  Morose Kylo Ren.



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