A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Everyone in this galaxy seems to be familiar with that phrase that appears on screen before diving into the epic space tale that is Star Wars. This is a saga that began way back in 1977 with a movie no one thought would spawn into the billion dollar empire we see today. Even George Lucas himself skipped his own premiere thinking it would be a colossal flop! Yet here we are on movie #9 in the main story with 2 spin off movies and several tv/streaming series generating revenue at a light speed pace. If you are like me then you have been following this adventure through all the highs (Ep 4 & Ep 5) and the lows (Ep 1 & Ep 8) eagerly awaiting the “final chapter” in the Skywalker saga. (personal disclaimer: I do not believe that we watched the final chapter in this story-line)
JJ Abrams had to do a lot of heavy lifting for this one to make up for the disappointment that was Episode 8. He brought all the right combinations of action, humor, and story telling to keep this show moving along as quickly as possible for a 142 minute ride. I enjoyed the couple of twists and turns that I did not see coming in the story as JJ worked to clean up some of the loose ends from Episode 8. The action scenes are all wonderfully done and each seem to have their own feel and identity. Most of the screen time is devoted to Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and they don’t seem to mind having the film on their shoulders. Both of them bring emotion and a sense of authenticity to this space tale. The set design looks great as always and the special effects remain top notch which is to be expected after so many years. Star Wars has been pretty good at adding minor characters that become fan favorites (except for JarJar from Episode 1 and L3-37 from Solo) and Episode 9 is no different. I found myself cracking up at newcomer Babu Frik each time I went to the theater.
Now it wouldn’t be a movie featuring Storm Troopers if there weren’t a few misses. I think JJ did just about as well as he could to fill the entire run time with story and action, yet it still managed to feel a little bit too long to me. A few scenes felt a little over-steeped for dramatic effect without adding that much to the overall story. I also touched earlier that I don’t think they did a good job wrapping up the story. This chapter was billed as a closing entry into the Skywalker story it does not feel that way at all. There are also some standard cheesy lines and scenes that get shoved in and take away from the final rating but they don’t hurt as much as in Episode 8.
Look, I know its easy to knock the new Star Wars movies, especially if you grew up watching the original classic trilogy. These newer ones rely on more special effects and big name actors/directors while lacking that uniqueness that held up Ep 4-6. These movies aren’t perfect by any means, but they still provide entertainment, which is the end goal of any trip to the theater. Looking at all 9 movies together I still think they provide one heck of a adventure. Rise of Skywalker had quite the black hole to climb out of from The Last Jedi but it used all the Force left to deliver a solid 2 Apologies with action, humor, and engrossing story.