Friday, 20 December 2019

Star Wars at the speed of light



Director JJ Abrams (Star Trek) had the unenviable task of rebooting the Star Wars franchise with The Force Awakens in 2015. Fast forward to 2019, Abrams has the Herculean task of wrapping up the 9-part Skywalker saga in the shadow of the fandom menace.

Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi (2017) remains divisive among fans. However, I still stand by my review, but am delighted to say The Rise of Skywalker eclipses Johnson's subversive instalment with interstellar zest and ends George Lucas' space opera with an emotional flourish.

At the speed of light, The Rise of Skywalker is a deliriously brilliant conclusion to a saga that is closest to my heart than any other! It features inevitable lightsaber duels between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), that pack an emotional punch equalling those from the original trilogy, as echoes of the past reverberate around them.

Johnson laid the groundwork for 'Reylo' in The Last Jedi and this is taken to its bittersweet conclusion in standout performances from both Ridley and Driver. Their battle of wills is the beating heart of Disney's sequel trilogy underscored by composer John Williams' rich repertoire spanning the entire Skywalker story.

The maestro John Williams is on hand to finish what he started in 1977. His ninth soundtrack for the Skywalker saga is a joyous journey through light and dark, tinged with sadness in the knowledge this will be Williams’ Star Wars swan song. For 42 years, his music has been the soundtrack to many fans (myself included) lives. More than once, familiar leitmotifs evoked memories of loved ones long since passed away and I was unable to hold back tears. Rey’s theme becomes the centrepiece as her story reaches its conclusion with an ending that witnesses one of Williams’ most beautiful orchestrations with nods to Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Schindler’s List in a galaxy-spanning symphonic celebration.

The gang's back together. It's an unalloyed joy to be in the company of Rey, Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels). This plays to Abrams' greatest strength. His innate ability to create compelling character relationships that began with Felicity and continued in Lost.



Where would Star Wars be without droids? C-3PO gets to shine, not just literally, in the final episode alongside best friend R2-D2, BB-8 and newcomer D-O, a delightful droid with PTSD. C-3PO and R2-D2's humorous exchanges were sorely missing from the prequel and sequel trilogies up to this point. It would be churlish not to mention Zorii Bliss' (Keri Russell) droidsmith Babu Frik.

Star Wars has always served as an anti-fascist allegory and none more so than here with the repeated stance of the First Order, about to become the Final Order under the auspices of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and Allegiant General Pryde (Richard E Grant), making the Resistance think they're alone, which is, to invoke Marxist cultural criticism, false consciousness. Suffice to say, with Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) back at the helm of the Millennium Falcon, the good guys will never give up, never surrender (borrowed from Galaxy Quest).

The Rise of Skywalker meshes Lucas' sci-fi opus with the explosive exuberance of Marvel Star Wars Weekly, school playground adventures with friends long gone and is a love letter from a superfan to fans that still believe in hope over despair. I geeked out with fellow fans, strangers brought together by the Force, as it should be.

2 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed the movie. There were some fantastic moments, I especially liked the Rey/Kylo force tug of war with the troop transporter that ended up with the reveal of the other side of Rey.

    I loved the idea of the Emperor being evident throughout the war, watching from the sidelines all this time.

    Great to see Luke back to guide Rey on her quest and to see him use his force to allow Rey to use his old X-Wing...fantastic.

    A great end to the Skywalker Saga and do I see a glimpse hope of maybe Disney/Star Wars continuing with that yellow light Sabre (what a cool lightssbre too)!

    Loved it and can't wait to watch again in glorious 4K at home in 2020.

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    1. Like Avengers: Endgame, The Rise of Skywalker was a deserved victory lap for a saga that has spanned the lives of generations. I've already pre-ordered the limited edition Skywalker Saga 4K Blu-ray box set, which comprises 27 discs and copious extras.

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