by Philip Price
Director: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver & John Boyega
Runtime: 2 hours & 22 minutes
If one was to go back and watch the prequels ("...but why?!?" you cringe!) with as objective a perspective as possible, with the allowance of framing them in a new light given the events of the ‘Star Wars’ universe that have unfolded since their release it's not hard to see that Emperor Palpatine has always played the role of puppet master; at first hedging both sides against one another before fully giving in to his true Sith tendencies and converting a young Anakin Skywalker to follow him on that path.
And while J.J. Abrams initial film in this sequel trilogy, “The Force Awakens,” seemingly had no interest in resurrecting the long, thought-to-be dead Emperor there is sound reason (believe it or not) in bringing this antagonist back to round out all three trilogies in a way that makes for a resounding stanza ... just as George Lucas always intended.
It's about rhyme; a recurring metrical unit where the past predicts the future. There is a great sense of scope and history in these films and while Disney has admittedly fumbled a massive opportunity with these sequels, “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker,” seeks to try and rectify the lack of cohesion in this latest trilogy and bring everything together through that aforementioned scope and history in a fashion that is both meaningful to our new heroes while imparting the identity of those original heroes to inspire this new generation to continue to work towards the betterment of the galaxy. Yes, ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ more or less crams two movies into one and yes, it is genuinely disappointing that this series wasn't better constructed from the beginning given how much this world means to so many people, but taken what we're given Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio are able to connect the dots in a satisfying enough way where the right questions are answered, some mysteries remain yet feel destined to be unraveled on Disney+ while other inquiries are made that no one seemed to be asking, but are quickly brought up and resolved just as swiftly.
It's impossible to please everyone and as much as I hate to admit it as a long-time, but not die-hard fan of the franchise, the discourse around these films is often toxic and demeaning. It's OK to simply enjoy whatever brings a smile to your face and more often than not, as I sat experiencing ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ for the first time, I had a smile on my face.