Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – the send-off the franchise deserves

Ever since A New Hope came out in 1977, people have been captivated by Star Wars. It’s a film series that has spanned generations, entertained those both young and old, and influenced pop culture in ways that no other movies ever have before. And 42 years and 11 films later, the franchise is still going strong.

The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of the Skywalker saga, and concludes a story that has been over four decades in the making. And with that comes a lot of pressure, with the weight of the world on director JJ Abrams and his team to provide a satisfying conclusion to this epic space opera.

When Disney bought the rights to Star Wars and announced they were going to be making a sequel trilogy back in 2012, there was a mixture of excitement and apprehension from fans around the world. This was certainly magnified considering the prequel trilogy, which concluded with Revenge of the Sith in 2005, was met with such criticism when it came out.

But overall, while these films were unlikely to reach the same acclaim as the original films did, I believe Disney have done a good job. The Force Awakens provided a brilliant way of introducing a new set of heroes, such as Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron, while keeping some of the old faces that people have come to know and love.

The Star Wars formula has stayed relatively similar in this new trilogy, with the classic good versus evil dynamic prevailing, played out on a grand stage full of space battles and a few lightsaber duels chucked in for good measure. Although some may argue it’s become slightly stale, the franchise has stuck to its roots which made it the phenomenon that it’s become today.

The cast at the European Premiere

There was a lot of criticism for the last film in the saga, The Last Jedi, and while I personally loved this movie, the studio had to win back some fans which they had alienated. But instead of playing it safe, Disney have made some bold decisions in this film that fans are either going to love or hate.

The central plot in The Rise of Skywalker focuses around the Resistance’s search for a Sith Wayfinder, which is needed to locate Emperor Palpatine and his hidden base on Exegol which he is using to marshal a fleet for The First Order. The film does a good job of building tension, which ultimately leads to a final showdown between Rey, Kylo Ren and the Emperor, and a classic space battle between the Resistance and the First Order.

The most significant talking point around this film is undoubtedly the decision to bring back Emperor Palpatine, who we last saw being thrown off the reactor shaft by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi to his apparent death to save his son Luke from Palpatine, and seemingly fulfil his prophecy of being The Chosen One.

The Rise of Skywalker flies in the face of this, and it soon becomes apparent that Palpatine has been lurking in the shadows and orchestrating the rise of The First Order who attempt to create a new Empire, with Darth Vader’s grandson Kylo Ren at the helm. For some diehard fans, this is going to be a bitter pill to swallow, as what we thought we knew for over 30 years has been completely wiped out.

Personally I didn’t mind the Emperor’s return, as I think it was well handled and helped Rey and Kylo Ren’s character development immensely for reasons which will become apparent while watching the movie. Both Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver provide standout performances in this film, as their inner conflict is portrayed masterfully throughout, and each scene they share with each other is immensely captivating and helps carry the film to a large extent.

Ian McDiarmid reprises his role as Emperor Palpatine, whom he first played in 1983

Another element which has to be commended is how well the film deals with Carrie Fisher’s untimely death, and although we don’t see as much of Leia as we might have, it stills provides a satisfying conclusion to Leia’s story.

The film also does incredibly well with how it utilises Luke Skywalker and Han Solo as Force ghosts who guide the main characters through their journeys. It was always going to be a tall task for Abrams and his team to create a Star Wars film with such little involvement from the original trio, but at no point while watching The Rise of Skywalker did I feel that this was a big issue, as I was incredibly invested in the stories of Rey, Kylo, Finn and co for the entirety of this final chapter.

After the final confrontation between the Resistance and the First Order, the last scenes of this movie provide a wave of nostalgia for long term followers of the franchise, and while some may argue that they are providing excessive fan service in these final scenes, it provides a satisfying conclusion for a franchise that has been dear to many for almost half a century.

Whether you’re a diehard Star Wars fan who wants to see how the Skywalker saga concludes, or you just want to see an epic sci-fi film full of action, drama and high stakes, there’s something for everyone in this movie and I would highly recommend a trip to the cinema for anyone who’s considering watching it.

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