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New to Digital/DVD/Blu-Ray - STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker review
Emperor Palpatine returns with a plan to dominate the galaxy.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: JJ Abrams

Starring: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Ian McDiarmid, Oscar Isaac, Keri Russell, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Billy Dee Williams, Kelly Marie Tran, Richard E. Grant, Joonas Suotamo, Naomi Ackie, Dominic Monaghan

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker dvd


"I've got a bad feeling about this." So exclaims a returning character in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the purported conclusion (yeah, right) of the Skywalker saga. It's an early indication that we're in for another lazy, risk averse ride on the Starship Fan Service. Following the negative reactions to Rian Johnson's previous instalment, The Last Jedi, The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams has been reinstated to correct the course, which means throwing familiar bones to Star Wars fans.

Just as The Force Awakens was practically a rerun of the plot of A New Hope and The Last Jedi largely followed the structure of The Empire Strikes Back, The Rise of Skywalker is heavily indebted to Return of the Jedi. That closing chapter of George Lucas's original trilogy gets a lot of flak, thanks to the addition of the merchandise friendly Ewoks, but it features some of the saga's greatest moments. Many of those moments featured the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid), who in an act that reeks of desperation, makes a return here, despite having been killed off at the end of the 1983 blockbuster. The explanation for his return amounts to little more than "look, I'm back okay, now stop asking questions," and it's a lot like a struggling football club resigning a once beloved player who is now sadly past his prime.


star wars the rise of skywalker review

The Emperor, aka Palpatine, has set his sights on once again making the Sith the all-conquering force it once was. To do this he requires the aid of the galaxy's two most powerful Jedi - Rey (Daisy Ridley) and her smitten teen goth adversary Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). If you've seen Return of the Jedi, you already know exactly how this dynamic will ultimately play out.

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Elsewhere, Rey, Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), BB-8 and R2-D2 set off in pursuit of a space macguffin, having received intel from a spy within the First Order, which is now stuck inside C-3PO's head. Thanks to the sort of bureaucracy that leaves you up shit's creek without a paddle when you forget your phone unlock code, C-3PO is unable to relay the message because it's written in a Sith language. Luckily, Poe knows an old acquaintance who might be able to have C-3PO appropriately rewired.


star wars the rise of skywalker review

As Zorri Bliss, Poe's old partner in crime and perhaps love, Keri Russell steals the show. Bliss is a spunky bandit who shares a cheeky rapport with bad boy Poe, and their brief moments together are the closest this new trilogy has gotten to replicating the dynamic of Han Solo and Leia in the originals. It's telling that despite wearing a mask for the entirety of her short screen time, Bliss manages to win us over in a way this trilogy's major characters have failed to. She feels like a creation of Lucas, who knew the importance of a good costume and a dash of romance.

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Each chapter of Lucas's original trilogy had its standout set-piece - the Death Star attack, the evacuation of Hoth, the speeder bike chase - which is something this trilogy has struggled to replicate. The action sequences of these movies all blur into one blandly staged CG heavy set-piece, and The Rise of Skywalker gives us nothing that will stick in our minds the way the aforementioned moments have. Abrams plays it safe with a series of plot twists that mimic those of earlier films and the reintroduces some original trilogy characters, some from beyond the grave. His film chugs its way to a climax in which yet again the rebels are asked to take a one in a million shot. If you're remotely familiar with Star Wars you could probably write this script yourself, as there are few surprises in store. The movie's title is explained in unconvincing fashion in a sloppy final wrap-up that has "let's blow this thing and go home" written all over it.


star wars the rise of skywalker review

There's a not so thinly veiled political message running through the film about how we all need to band together in the face of evil. "There are more of us than there are of them," a character states in a speech meant to rouse the troops, and in what should be a punch the air moment, the spirit of Dunkirk is evoked. It's a noble sentiment, but it loses much of its impact, coming as it does in a film that throws actress Kelly Marie Tran under the bus, turning her into little more than a background extra in an effort to appease the sort of people who hounded her off the internet. Resistance indeed.

Is this really the end of the Skywalker saga? That's what they want us to believe, but with the movie leaving a couple of loose ends untied, don't be surprised if we hear another famous line echoed - "No, there is another!"

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker comes to UK Digital April 13th and DVD/blu-ray April 20th.




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