Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker is out now and brings not only this new trilogy of films to a close, but also the entire nonet of films (yes, that’s the word for a collection of nine things, and yes, I had to look it up).
Okay, I could’ve just said ‘The Entire Saga’, but I checked with Emperor Palpatine, and he said, “Good… Good…”
Oh, and for no apparent reason, with this final film, all of them have been rebranded to remove the episode numbers, so “Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker” simply becomes “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker” and so on.
I will get discuss elements of the premise of the story, but I won’t give away any key plot points, but still, if you don’t want to know anything whatsoever, then is not the review you’re looking for…
In short, Emperor Palpatine is back, despite the usually life-hindering situation of being dead, and promises Kylo a new Empire, called The Final Order. Will he take it? Can the bad guys beat the good guys? Meanwhile, Rey – who we first meet whilst practicing her zen-like training with Leia – wants to go to Exegol to continue looking for the item Luke was once looking for… and until that’s revealed, I couldn’t remember, either. That’s how invested I feel in this new trilogy.
Oh, and we’re told Poe is a Spice runner – like the Manchester drug, which sends people into a zombie state while standing up?
As this is the last movie (for now), there are lots of homages to the original trilogy, which I’ll get to in a section later, for those I spotted. If you saw any more, let me know in the comments below.
Overall, although it’s never boring, Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker feels very perfunctory, with a bog-standard story, a complete abscence of humour and as for the “They fly now” line during a chase, it’s one of those things that pops up briefly and never comes back again, making it a complete waste of a line. Plus, with everyone just going through the motions, none more so than with John Boyega, who would get out-acted by a tin of spam, so when he is told “Rey is not who you think she is“, he has a dazed look on his face as if someone is telling him what to get for his shopping.
Along the way, how can Rey do a whole ton of climbing when Daisy Ridley has no muscles whatsoever? Surely, she should’ve had some weight training before taking part in this?
As for the cast, Richard E Grant, I like, but he always chews the scenery as Richard E Grant, whatever part he plays
However, for the rest, they’re largely forgettable in terms of acting. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill‘s appearances feel like token gestures, and the voice cast shows a ton of people returning, but apart from one early scene, I would need someone to point out where the majority of them pop up. And as for Carrie, she’s listed solely as “archive footage” – repurposing unused footage from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, so they’ve had to work the story partly around her untimely passing.
Kelly Marie Tran, as Rose, takes a backseat in the proceedings, despite becoming a major character in the last film. It’s like they just couldn’t think of anything for her to do, this time, when they could’ve had her flying a spaceship like almost everyone else. She was one of the four cast members seen on The One Show, recently, alongside Grant, Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux) and Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), so why she was there is anyone’s guess.
Also, this final movie is John Williams‘ last ever Star Wars score, as he is retiring from those. Then again, when you hear most of it, it feels like someone’s stuck on a random CD from any of the others. Also, Carrie Fisher gets top billing, but then, of course, it’s on of the movies in which she’ll appear. The last one is due to be 2020’s Wonderwell, which hasn’t yet got a release date.
And now some callbacks to previous films… (so, skip this section if you don’t want to know):
- 1. They chance upon a festival which takes place every 42 years… Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was released in 1977, and this one’s in 2019. Get it?
- 2. Lando says “I’ve got a bad feeling about this“, as a callback to the line used many times in the original movie, the first time being from Luke Skywalker.
- 3. A sort of quicksand puts our heroes in peril, rather like the trash compactor from the first film
- 4. When Poe et al are harrassed with Stormtroopers with “What’s your operating number?“, as spoken to Han Solo in the first movie over the intercom.
- 5. Chewie is cheating at a game of battle chess – a reference back to the original movie and “Let the wookie win“.
- 6. And one final bit which I’ll put behind a spoiler heading, so do not read if you are planning on seeing the film:
As always, I was the last person in the auditorium, and the only one who stayed for the full closing credits, which include the Imperial Death March, and end with the full Star Wars theme.
The cleaner who came in had also seen it, asked me what I thought, and as we got talking, he said that Disney are already calling for Kathleen Kennedy‘s head (well, resignation) because it hasn’t made a ton of money as expected. The Force Awakens made approx $245m in the US on opening weekend, and then the figures for the next two are $220m and $190m, respectively. Given that the total worldwide box office receipts for the first two films were just over $2bn and then $1.3bn, the prospects of a further trilogy are looking bleak, but then if this film hadn’t been made, I wouldn’t have been crying out for it to happen.
As I arrived at the Odeon Trafford Centre, I assumed it might just be quiet, because the place shuts at 6pm on a Sunday, apart from the cinema, but… when I saw the queues, it was like the train station scene in Gandhi… So, I bought the ticket from a machine (one of the few that worked), made my way to the auditorim, approximately 20 minutes before the film began at 8.40pm (well, the adverts, and then trailers), and how many were already in there? NONE!
The guy told me that apart from the IMAX and Dolby recliner screens, the regular ones have been fairly empty, like the one I was in, and this is only the opening weekend!
Yes, you could lay the blame at the door of JJ Abrams for both this one and The Force Awakens, as well as that of Rian Johnson for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, but these films will be a collaborative effort. When this one said only Abrams wrote it, you know he will have been the head of a team of writers.
He also agreed with me that out of the five films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the best of them. He hadn’t seen Solo: A Star Wars Story, so I told him – helpfully – not only that it was a dumpster fire, but also that they got the wrong lead actor for Solo, and suggested he check out The Age of Adaline. I *DID* say that that film also sucked, BUT, it has Anthony Ingruber as a young Harrison Ford, and he’s the spitting image!
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker is out now in cinemas, but it’s also available to pre-order on Blu-ray – with Limited Edition The Resistance Sleeve, Blu-ray – with Limited Edition Limited The First Order Artwork Sleeve, 3D Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray and DVD.
Running time: 141 minutes
Release date: December 19th 2019
Viewed at: Odeon Trafford Centre
Format: 2.39:1 (Dolby Vision, Anamorphic Panavision, Super Panavision 70)
Director: JJ Abrams
Producers: JJ Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan
Screenplay: Chris Terrio, JJ Abrams
Story: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, Chris Terrio, JJ Abrams
Characters: George Lucas
Music: John Williams
Leia Organa: Carrie Fisher (archive footage)
Luke Skywalker: Mark Hamill
Kylo Ren: Adam Driver
Rey: Daisy Ridley
Emperor Palpatine: Ian McDiarmid
Finn: John Boyega
Poe Dameron: Oscar Isaac
C-3PO: Anthony Daniels
Jannah: Naomi Ackie
General Hux: Domhnall Gleeson
General Pryde: Richard E Grant
Zorii Bliss: Keri Russell
Chewbacca: Joonas Suotamo
Lando Calrissian: Billy Dee Williams
Rose Tico: Kelly Marie Tran
Snap Wexley: Greg Grunberg
Babu Frik: Shirley Henderson
Lieutenant Connix: Billie Lourd
Beaumont: Dominic Monaghan
R2-D2: Hassan Taj, Lee Towersey
BB-8: Brian Herring, Dave Chapman
D-O: Robin Guiver, Lynn Robertson Bruce
Sith Alchemist: Lynn Robertson Bruce
Maz Kanata: Claire Roi Harvey, Richard Coombs, Matt Denton
Klaud: Nick Kellington
Lieutenant Garam: Mandeep Dhillon
Lieutenant Draper: Alison Rose
Commander D’Acy: Amanda Lawrence
First Order Officer: Cyril Nri
First Order Officer: Richard Bremmer
First Order Officer: Mark Richard Durden Smith
Colonel Aftab Ackbar: Tom Wilton
Nambi Ghima: Kiran Shah
Pilot Tyce: Vinette Robinson
Wicket W. Warrick: Warwick Davis
Pommet Warwick: Harrison Davis
Young Rey: Josefine Irrera Jackson, Cailey Fleming
Rey’s Mother: Jodie Comer
Rey’s Father: Billy Howle
Soldier: Lin-Manuel Miranda (uncredited)
Maz Kanata: Lupita Nyong’o
D-O: JJ Abrams
Colonel Aftab Ackbar: Chris Terrio
Nambi Ghima: Debra Wilson
Darth Vader: James Earl Jones
Snoke: Andy Serkis
Anakin Skywalker: Hayden Christensen
Luminara Unduli: Olivia d’Abo
Mace Windu: Samuel L Jackson
Obi Wan Kenobi: Ewan McGregor
Obi Wan Kenobi: Alec Guinness (archive sound)
Yoda: Frank Oz
Adi Gallia: Angelique Perrin
Kannan Jarus: Freddie Prinze Jr
Qui-Gon Jinn: Liam Neeson
And a spoiler:
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.