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“Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker”

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Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) battle through space and time, arguably the coolest part of “Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.” STILL COURTESY OF LUCASFILM LTD

3/5 stars

By Anna Husted EBS FILM CRITIC

“Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” is exactly what fans want it to be. From the first moment when we see the Millennium Falcon light-speed galaxy jumping, to the final double light saber battle, the movie delivers on all the classically fantastic moments of the franchise. But in that sense, it’s also predictable, yet curiously leaves us wondering about a lot.

Rey (played by a somehow more beautiful than ever Daisy Ridley) must finish what Luke started: find the hiding place of the evil Emperor and defeat him. The biggest obstacle is no one knows how to get to the unknown Sith planet without a Sith wayfinder, which only Kylo Ren has. 

As expected, Rey and Ren face off in multiple epic showdowns, yet in this installment their ability to psychically connect reaches new, visually phenomenal levels. There is one instance where Rey transfers feelings to Kylo Ren through distances of space and time that are unprecedented—even by Obi Wan Kenobi standards of Force-wielding. 

Throughout the film, we meet with old and new faces, such as an introduction to an adorable, yet scarred, Sith droid—my new favorite—who speaks bluntly and says “no thank you” when approached by strangers. While Rey, Poe, Finn, Chewy, and droids C3P0 and BB-8 travel from planet to planet trying to obtain the wayfinder, we also discover that Rey’s kindness is even more powerful than the Force. Admittedly, it’s almost as cheesy as it sounds.

Yet, it’s hard to forget that it will always be the characters and their often corny relationships that make the Star Wars franchise great. They are why we watch these movies across generations, and “The Rise of Skywalker” gives us some touching and fun moments with those intergalactic souls.

Unfortunately, unanswered questions make “The Rise of Skywalker” fall short of the prestige of most of the other Star Wars films.

Try this frustrating example for size: At one point, Finn mentions something seemingly leading to Rey that he never brings up again, and there’s no explainable reason for director Abrams to not revisit the thread. Worse still, it wasn’t something we, the audience, were even looking for. When the film is tied up in a mostly neat little bow, why leave a dangling question?

Overall, “The Rise of Skywalker” is entertaining and fun. The Star Wars world building continues to impress and the flying and fighting choreography reaches a new level when comparing the last three Star Wars installments.

You’ll find most moviegoers satisfied, but I continue to wonder if there isn’t something greater Disney and Abrams could have achieved, something more thematically spiritual and mentally stimulating that would have left fans astonished by this epic story’s conclusion. Or maybe we’ve come to expect too much from what was once just kids in costumes and George Lucas playing with model toys—although I doubt that. After all, Lucas was a master storyteller and filmmaker. He gave us a world that didn’t exist, a journey we all wanted to go on, and heroes that always shot first. 

Anna Husted has a master’s in film studies from New York University. In Big Sky she can be found skiing or at the movies at Lone Peak Cinema. When not gazing at the silver screen or watching her new favorite TV show, she’s reading, fishing or roughhousing with her cat, Indiana Jones.

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