We got our original taste of “Star Wars” 42 years ago with the release of the first film in the now complete nine-film series. Cinema genius George Lucas took themes from the Wild West and Japanese slapstick to create his massively popular and influential characters. He set out to make a myth with deliberate intent and by golly, it worked just fine. Ask any of the millions of viewers who have watched his films.
Sometimes we can easily see his tropes. In “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” the heroine, Rey, always wears white. We know she represents the good side of the force. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, is a nasty piece of work and always wears black. We get it. We get a sub-theme of a bad ruler who sets out to murder an innocent baby. I’ve heard that one before.
J.J. Abrams has produced a big stack of the most successful action films of all time in both the “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” franchises. He has directed some of them, including “Star Wars VII.”
Here he also writes, but in collaboration. Chris Terrio won his writing Oscar for the incomparable “Argo” in 2013. The two of them produced a script that at once finalizes the saga and does due honor to the massive body of work that has gone before.
I won’t say where the writers had the film end up but I will say that we in the seats nodded and smiled. Great stuff.
The score by John Williams brings the familiar melodies back to our ears and hearts. The combination of good music and fond, long-standing memories hits the right spot. This makes the ninth and last “Star Wars” score made by Williams.
Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac play the core members in the story.
The late Carrie Fisher returns via movie magic to play Princess Leia. She has as her companions Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams who returns to his iconic role as Lando Calrissian after a 36-year time out. Anthony Daniels once again plays the robot 3CPO. Only Daniels appeared in every episode.
I want to mention the depth of the bench of actors in this great film. Richard E. Grant plays General Pride (in mythic stories sometimes the characters take on metaphysical attributes). General Pride does not have a major role. However, J.J. Abrams puts an Oscar-nominated actor in that place.
We just do not see that in minor films. Ian McDiarmid once again plays the Emperor. Beautiful Keri Russell has a small role as a criminal. We only see her eyes in the course of the action. That makes for a bench that has depth and talent. Huzzah.
I won’t forget the cool “Star Wars” stuff. We have some little puffin sort of birds that last about 4 seconds on screen. There is a tribal party scene with a hundred snorkel face beings in a mass line dance. Abrams works in loads of details and they all work for us.
“Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” has a mild PG-13 rating. The four saw blade film runs for two hours and 21 minutes. Disney allowed a reported $300 million to make the movie for us. Thanks, Walt.