By Marc S. Sanders

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is a well packaged thrilling adventure of spectacle, emotion, thrill and salutations to a film saga that’s lasted nearly a half century. JJ Abrams, with backing from the franchise’s new owner Disney, invents a storyline that bears consistency with the episodes that have been seen before. There’s just so much to appreciate.

To get the story rolling, it appears the villainous Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid in a role that has never garnered enough deserving praise) returns from the dead, intent on recruiting the confused Kylo Ren to kill Rey. From there, it becomes a race for Rey and her allies (Finn, Poe, Chewbacca C3PO & BB8) to find “wayfinders” (like directional compasses) that will lead to Palpatine’s location. Naturally they get sidetracked with some unexpected encounters like flying Stormtroopers (“They fly now!”) and Lando Calrissean (a very welcome and delayed return for Billy Dee Williams). As well, Rey gradually learns more of her back story and there are some quite surprising moments to see.

ROS is really a beautifully shot piece of cinematography. Abrams still loves the occasional lens flare but it’s never distracting. Outer space flights and battles have a clear exactness to them. The moments between Rey and Kylo Ren are well edited conversations and lightsaber duals that occur at two different parts of the galaxy as background settings seamlessly change at times. This is an element from the prior often sour Episode VIII known as Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi that still works for these new characters.

Abrams and company really get everything right here by neglecting wasteful narratives from Johnson’s installment to allow reflections on the other films in the series with fan loved cameos of characters and ships from before.

Episode IX is bound to displease some fans who carry their own vision that challenge them to accept something satisfying. I dare not consider what those thousands of possibilities could be.

All that I know is that the newest chapter is never boring, often surprising and in the most capable hands possible with the Mouse House engineers.

Major applause for the Daisy Ridley giving her best performance to date followed by John Boyega & Oscar Isaac offering terrific buddy chemistry with fun, wry dialogue and major kudos to Anthony Daniels who is given much material that reminds the audience that the Skywalker saga is quickly approaching closure. Daniels has always offered a quite humane performance to a character that can show one expression but still carries dimensions of fear, wisdom and humor. An actor limited in expression who only provides a vastness of emotion.

The Rise of Skywalker delivers a lot of story and some new, albeit unnecessary characters (except for new merchandising to sell), but everything is a visual treat.

Abrams’ contributions offer opportunities of laughter and tears and messages of redemption and sacrifice for a greater good.

There’s much to this to consider and appreciate. I absolutely loved Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

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