Film Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (SPOILER FREE)

The final chapter is here. It’s been a long time coming and everywhere I turn there seems to be a mix of reviews for this film and I wanted to throw my two cents, as a fan, as to what you can expect from this movie. It will be completely spoiler free, so fear not, nothing will be ruined…

JJ Abrams claimed that this was the film to end it all, both the trilogy and the saga. Bold words, and bolder still with some of the limitations that were forced upon him. I will say that I have been an Abrams fan since Lost, I loved Super 8 and even adored the light comedy Morning Glory with Harrison Ford. For me, his style works. Yet for Episode Nine he set himself what some would say was the impossible task. To have Leia, with no Carrie Fisher. To work off ideas in Episode 8 that he himself wouldn’t have done. And for me, the biggest one, the fact that this trilogy had no direction at its conception. It’s a lot for any writer and director to deal with. When I heard it would be Abrams, I thought, surely, he is the person to pull it off?

Thankfully the answer is yes! Abrams does create a film that brings a conclusion to the sequel trilogy and to the saga as a whole. As the opening title appears and the soundtrack begins, you can’t help but think this is the sort of opening we may never see again, at least for the near future. You watch this movie with laugh out moments, moments of sadness and moments of pure nostalgia. And all fitted into just over two hours. Do not get me wrong, this film is not perfect but it’s exactly the film we needed, particularly to end with. Abrams does a lot of course correcting from The Last Jedi to tell us the story he wants to tell, to tell a Star Wars story. And there is a lot to tell, perhaps too much. There are so many moments when I wanted the film to slow down so we could take a deeper look, but Abrams just does not have the time.

If there is one flaw with this movie it is the direction of the trilogy. When you see this film, see the end point we’ve got to, you realise how much better the other two films could have been if this had been planned out. Certain key story points could have been addressed in those films, rather than in The Rise of Skywalker, freeing up this movie to tell a deeper story. It’s frustrating and an opportunity unfortunately missed. But Abrams is determined to get this story right. From the opening crawl itself, you are thrown right into the story and it doesn’t let up for one second. It can’t. This limitation in itself is bad enough, yet the loss of Carrie Fisher also hampers this. You can see that they needed more of her to flesh parts of this film out, however, I was shocked to see just how much she was in this movie. I would rather have it like that, than see less of her. One can only wonder what kind of film we would have had if Fisher was still with us.

These characters, that we’ve grown to know, work so well. We get to see them together, how they interact with one another. It is evident that they have had many adventures already together and part of me is slightly sad to think we won’t get to see more of them. There are a lot of new characters and these don’t get anywhere near the screen time they need. But equally, I’m not here to see them, I want to see the conclusion for the characters we’ve followed. And as to those characters, they work tremendously well. The acting is first rate, particularly from Ridley and Driver, who are the core of this story. We get to see familiar faces return and here there is such a sense of passing on the torch to the next generation. I would have liked more moments with these characters, but then the newer characters really do shine, and deserve to in this final chapter.

For me, the notable high in this film was the music. Just like Abrams, John Williams brings the entire saga into play in this entire movie. The notes and themes that peek out scene after scene, provide the oxygen for this film and remind us exactly where we have been. Williams goes out on a high note (excuse the pun) with what I think will be considered his best score of the sequel movies.

Abrams has done what I would have thought impossible. He has been able to round out the saga and provide something for the fans. There was a lot that Abrams had to overcome, a lot of obstacles in his way. Yes, if he and Lucasfilm could go back, they would (hopefully) do things very differently. But as a film by itself, Abrams has created a very worthy ending. He uses his screen time to its absolute maximum capacity. You could argue it needed to be longer, or split into two films, but that’s not the Star Wars way. This, at the end of the day, is Star Wars. This was high speed adventure with characters old and new who we have loved for over four decades, going out on the high they deserve. The conclusion of this film, of this saga, feels complete and feels like a true Star Wars ending. I won’t lie, I had tears in my eyes before the closing credits appeared. Don’t read the reviews or listen to the critics, go see this for yourself and see just what Abrams has been able to achieve….

Mark 'Spooked Hippie' Alders
Mark’s day job is a primary school teacher, where in his classroom you will find life size cut outs of Darth Vader and Chewbacca, trying his best to educate the youth of today in the ways of the force.