Movie Guru: ‘Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker’ isn’t perfect, but it has its moments
‘Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker’
Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action
Screenplay by: Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams
Story by: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, Chris Terrio, and J.J. Abrams
Based on: Characters created by George Lucas
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Kellie Marie Tran, Keri Russell and more
Grade: Depending on who your favorite characters are, either two and a half out of four or three stars out of four.
Note: There are sequences in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” that could trigger those sensitive to flashing light sequences.
‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ isn’t a wonderful movie, but it’s also not a disaster.
Whether or not you like it will depend a lot on who your favorite characters are, and how you feel about the two previous movies. The script is something of a mess, and suffers from the fact that we haven’t gotten anything close to well-established story arcs in this particular trilogy. There are also some controversial character decisions, most of which have been thoroughly spoiled on the internet.
But there are also some genuinely impactful moments where the movie will sweep you along despite whatever reservations you might have. The cast is surprisingly good, even when they’re not given a great deal to work with, and they bring more sparkle to the film than it probably deserves. There’s still some of the old Star Wars magic swirling throughout the movie, and it’s likely to grab you when you least expect it.
The movie starts several months to a year after “The Last Jedi,” with the Rebellion chasing down information about a mysterious broadcast from an old enemy. Rey continues her training, still dealing with the aftermath from her big moment with Kylo Ren in the last movie. Over with the bad guys, Ren consolidates his power while continuing the hunt for Rey and problems among his people.
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The screenplay is by the same guy who wrote “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and you can see the similarities in the overstuffed storyline and plot points that trail off into nothing.
None of it is necessarily bad, but the movie needed about another hour in order for it to be paced properly. Or, perhaps, for some of these plot points to be established two movies ago, but this is what happens when people make massively budgeted movies without properly outlining a trilogy story arc first.
But there are a few big stirring moments, battles and big heroic moments that I’m not allowed to discuss in any kind of detail without facing execution by Disney snipers.
The smaller moments of character interaction are even lovelier, with the movie finally offering us some bonding time we didn’t get in the two previous films. I include the droids in this category, a list that now includes the charming miniature droid D-O.
A lot of that charm comes from the acting. John Boyega finally delivers the Finn we’ve all been waiting for, and Oscar Isaac makes the most of every second he’s onscreen. Daisy Ridley does everything she can with the little she’s given, and Adam Driver shows off a far wider range of his acting skills than in previous Star Wars movies.
Leia’s storyline is disappointing in some ways, but given the fact that Carrie Fisher died before filming started the movie handled her story as well as it reasonably could have.
Somewhere in my imagination, there’s a better version of this movie. But if you’ve followed these characters this long, you’ll definitely want to be there for the end.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.