How do you end a Skywalker saga born 42 years ago? While also drawing to a close the timeline of a new set of characters born five years ago? This is a challenge that Star Wars Episode XI: The Rise of Skywalker never quite manages to circumnavigate. Ultimately creating a frenetic and somewhat muddled and disappointing end to the Skywalker legacy. One that while fun and emotional in places, lacks the spark of ingenuity and creativity that the previous instalments promised. While equally feeling rushed and ‘fan’ driven after the criticism of The Last Jedi.
As stated above this is a spoiler free review, therefore I will not indulge in major plot points. However, one that many will have anticipated as being a spoiler is in fact announced as already having happened in the opening credits. With Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) back to ensure the galaxy in once more engulfed in a new empire.
This rushed return speaks of to an overarching problem in the films narrative. Where characters are both brushed to one side or brought back with little build up or explanation. And while the main focus of the film lays with Rey (Daisy Ridley) Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Chewie (Joonas Suotamo), Kylo (Adam Driver) and C3-PO (Anthony Daniels). Other characters of interest built throughout the past two instalments feel undeniably let down in the final chapter. As does the story arc that should have linked the prequels, original trilogy and sequels together.
This is not to say that Star Wars Episode XI: The Rise of Skywalker isn’t a beautifully shot film. With cinematography, puppetry and effects that are truly stunning from the first scene to the last. Coupled with the pure magic and power of John Williams score. There are also moments of pure emotional wonder, that will bring a tear to the eye of any viewer. Equally the core messages of the film are strong, with hope, freedom and diversity triumphing over hate and oppression.
Director: J.J. Abrams