"Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker"; Cast: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyongo, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiamid, Billy Dee Williams; Direction: JJ Abrams; Rating: *** (three stars)
This ninth episode of the "Star Wars" franchise is the last of the sequel's trilogy after "The Force Awakens" and "The Last Jedi". It is astutely mounted and presented, but hardcore devotees of the series will definitely find the film disappointing compared to the last two editions. And the uninitiated will find this film extremely tedious.
Like every edition, this one too is about the inter-galactic battle to control the universe. It is a battle between good against evil. The writers, Chris Terrio, Derek Connoly, Colin Trevorrow and Director JJ Abrams waste the opportunity to forge a new ground left by the previous instalment. Instead, they are so obsessed with tying the loose ends of the previous editions that the narrative ends up being sort of repetitive and nostalgia-inducing.
The story begins with a scroll that informs us that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who was defeated at the end of "The Return Of The Jedi", isn't dead and has built the largest fleet of Star Destroyers ever assembled. This sets the ball rolling and raises the intrigue quotient.
For the uninitiated, Emperor Palpatine, has apparently been in the background while creating the First Order. He is instrumental in initiating Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) into the order, and also had a hand in bringing Ren and Snoke (from the previous two films) together to worship at the altar of the original antagonist, Darth Vader.
The plot accelerates after Ren locates Palpatine and expresses to kill him. The zombie Emperor not only reveals his ultimate plan to beat the Resistance but also his specific plan for capturing Rey (Daisy Ridley), in order to bring her over to the dark side. Ren has a change of heart. He joins forces with Palpatine and pursues Rey, who is struggling with her identity. He tries to convince her with, "The dark side is our nature, surrender it to me".
When Rey receives another message from Ren, she returns to the hub of the Resistance and her friends Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). From thence, the plot jumps all over the place. And when the film reaches its climatic battle and the story's epilogue, the narratives appears dreary. But Ridley keeps the tone from becoming trite or from letting us laugh at how senseless the twist of her origins is, solely through her performance and Rey's grounded emotions.
Ren on the other hand has hardly much to offer. Poe Dameron who is an ace pilot remains at odds with Rey about most things. But the main demand on Poe's time is fixing his rickety used spacecraft and otherwise dashing about with a small band of Resistance fighters who look out for the Emperor's gathering forces.
Carrie Fisher shows up in the film using unused outtakes from "The Force Awakens". The footage fits in seamlessly with the story being told, without appearing to be forced.
Overall, while the film is mega-mounted and technically impressive, it does not offer anything that's new and exciting.