Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
by George Wolf and Hope Madden
Not that long ago in a galaxy near and dear to us, J.J. Abrams brilliantly re-packaged our Star Wars memories as The Force Awakens. Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi took an opposite approach two years later, bringing a challenging and welcome nerve that sent a clear signal it would soon be time to move on.
Abrams is back as director and co-writer to close the saga with The Rise of Skywalker, which ends up feeling less like a course correction (which wasn’t needed) and more like a sly meeting of both minds. The fan service is strong with this one, indeed, though it never quite smacks of panicked fanboy appeasement.
In fact, the echoes of Johnson’s vision only make Abrams’s franchise love letter more emotionally resonant. We were told this goodbye was coming, and now here it is, so grab hold of something.
And that doesn’t mean just tissues (though you may need them), as Abrams delivers action that comes early and more than often. From deep space shootouts to light saber duals amid monstrous ocean waves, the heart-racing set pieces are damn near non stop and seldom less than spectacular.
But let’s be real, this is the Rey and (Kylo) Ren show.
We knew their fates would collide, we wanted that collision, and here we get it, propelled by two actors in Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver who are able to fully embrace the weight of their respective arcs. As all our questions are eventually answered, Driver and Ridley never let us forget what drives their characters: the closure of identity.
And from a new hope to the last hope, it is precisely those bloodlines and destinies that have always driven this entire franchise. Abrams makes sure he honors that legacy with a satisfying sendoff bursting with fandom in nearly every frame.
Yes, you’ll find some awkward dialogue and underused characters, but that’s not a bad scorecard considering all that The Rise of Skywalker throws at us. From welcome hellos (Lando!), to sad goodbyes (Carrie Fisher’s is handled with heroic grace), political relevance (“there’s more of us” in the resistance) to stand up and cheer moments, this is a one helluva farewell party.