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Review: 'Rise of Skywalker' is a rushed conclusion to a grand epic

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
3.5 out of 5 Stars
J.J. Abrams
Writer: J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, George Lucas
Starring: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Ian McDiarmid
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: The First Order, reinforced by darkness rooted in the past, prepares to destroy the remaining members of the Resistance.

Review: Here we are, at the end of all things. There is no conclusion that is going to satisfy everyone. I’d argue that the last thing a filmmaker wants is to pander to outside influences to make a film that appeases everyone who sees it. J.J. Abrams and his collaborators have made a film that strives to do just that. It’s a formula that worked in the immediate moment for the “The Force Awakens,” but strip away the nostalgia and there wasn’t much actual story there. I’m still fond of it.

I was genuinely moved by “The Last Jedi.” I’d exorcise some of the humor but found a new connection with Luke Skywalker that I hadn’t felt since I was a child. There’s a vocal group that scoff at this, to make Luke Skywalker a character derailed by fear and doubt was too grounded and took the shine off his heroic rise in the original trilogy. By the end of “The Last Jedi,” Skywalker transformed into a greater version of himself. He silenced the darkness that rattled inside of him and threw off the pain of carrying the weight of a galaxy om his back.

“The Rise of Skywalker” is far less ambitious. It exists to answer questions, not to challenge the perception or legacy of characters that many of us have grown up with. It is filled with story to the point of not being able to give every moment the weight it deserves. It’s propelled by a need to resolve the story more than it is driven by the need to tell the story.

All of that said, I still enjoyed “The Rise of Skywalker.” I don’t agree with all the choices made and can’t help but feel like the screenplay panders to the vocal minority (who will likely hate that they’ve been given exactly what they asked for) as it recycles aspects of “Return of the Jedi” and erases the boldest decisions that Rian Johnson made in “The Last Jedi” (only to reinforce their intent in the end). But there are plenty of aspects of the narrative that work for me. The filmmaking feels a little crude, there’s not the same sense of cinematic wonder that accompanied the previous films.

For many "The Rise of Skywalker" will be the fun romp that they were looking for. Others will never find the peace and closure they were looking for. For me, the emotional pay off came with "The Last Jedi." I'm okay with that.