Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

The Movie Snob fulfills an obligation.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker  (C-).  And so we come at last to the end of the nine-movie Skywalker saga, and not a moment too soon for this reviewer.

Spoilers follow!

As at least one critic has observed, in Episode IX director J.J. Abrams does his level best to ignore or undo everything that happened in Episode VIII.  Although the Resistance seemed to be whittled down to about 5 or 6 people by the end of Episode VIII, Episode IX kicks off with General Leia (Carrie Fisher, When Harry Met Sally…) back in charge of a typical, seemingly well-manned rebel base.  Villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, Frances Ha) destroyed his Vaderesque mask in the last movie, but he solders it back together for this one.  The painful love story between Finn (John Boyega, Pacific Rim: Uprising) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran, XOXO) is mercifully dropped.  That stuff about Rey (Daisy Ridley, Murder on the Orient Express) being the orphaned child of a couple of nobodies? Mm, not exactly.  And so on.

But there is some continuity:  Episode IX continues the recent tradition of strip-mining the original trilogy for material.  Remember how Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid, The Return of the Jedi) got killed when Darth Vader hurled him down a bottomless air shaft?  Well, you can’t keep a good Sith Lord down, and fifty years on he is rested up and ready for action.  But before we get to the inevitable showdown with Palpatine, our heroes have to go on a tedious quest looking for the Magic Crystal of BlizzBlazz that will reveal Palpatine’s secret hiding place.  None of the main characters is very interesting.  I think Adam Driver is a terrible villain.  Poe (Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina) and Finn are just dull.  Rey is cute and kind of fun to watch if only because her Force powers far outstrip anything we ever thought even a trained Jedi could do, but she spends pretty much the whole movie scowling.  C-3PO is actually kind of entertaining in this outing, and I loved the little muppet guy who has to crack 3PO’s droid head open to get at some secret Sith data.  Billy Dee Williams (The Empire Strikes Back) pops up for a couple scenes, looking genuinely amused at being in the film.  None of it makes much sense, but I thought the climactic battle between Rey and Palpatine was kind of cool.  And the final scene, when Rey goes to Luke Skywalker’s boyhood home on Tatooine, warmed the heart of this old original-trilogy-loving geezer.

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