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The Rise of Skywalker: A suitably biblical ending to the Star Wars trilogy

 

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
directed by JJ Abrams

Star Wars might have started as a swashbuckling space adventure with a sideline in interstellar hocus-pocus, but it won the devotion of a religion. Aptly enough, The Rise of Skywalker – or Star Wars: Episode IX – feels like something of a biblical epic as it ends the third and final trilogy after 2015’s The Force Awakens and 2017’s The Last Jedi. It comes with a vision of hell ruled by a satanic figure, desert tribes, raging seas and multiple resurrections of dead or dying characters. True, the Jedi guardian-angel thing is long established, but as the opening scroll warns on this one: “The dead speak.”

They certainly do. In the case of Carrie Fisher’s Leia, they do that from beyond the grave while looking slightly annoyed at being forced to work overtime. If her rendering is visually shaky, it’s a minor glitch in what is largely an enjoyable high-action Star Wars movie complete with multiple character curtain calls. It’s one that, like Abrams’ episode VII The Force Awakens, doesn’t do much that is surprising – the inevitable major character paternity revelation is a bit so-what – and its interplanetary treasure hunt of a plot could have done with fewer planets. It’s a little long on the hocus-pocus, too, especially during an extended climax that comes with shades of Harry Potter and Romeo & Juliet. But, mostly, it wraps things up quite neatly while rewarding your affection for the series, especially in a final shot that brings us back to where it all started quite beautifully.

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★1/2

Video: Star Wars Australia & New Zealand

This article was first published in the January 11, 2020 issue of the New Zealand Listener.