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STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (2019) – My rating: 7.5/10

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (also known as Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker) is a space-opera and is produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams. It is the third installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), and the final episode of the nine-part “Skywalker saga”. This movie was produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams’s production company Bad Robot Productions and was distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The Rise of Skywalker follows Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron as they lead the Resistance’s final stand against Kylo Ren and the First Order, who are now aided by the return of the deceased galactic emperor, Palpatine. I think I’m a little tired of Star Wars — this one was just ok.

Following a threat of revenge by the revived Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) obtains a Sith Wayfinder, leading him to the uncharted planet Exegol. There, he finds Palpatine, who reveals that he created Snoke (Andy Serkisas) a puppet to control the First Order and lure Kylo to the dark side. Palpatine unveils a secret armada of Star Destroyers and tells Kylo to find and kill Rey (Daisy Ridley), who is continuing her Jedi training under Resistance leader Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) deliver intel from a spy that Palpatine is on Exegol; Rey has learned from Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) notes that a Sith Wayfinder can lead them there. Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), BB-8, and C-3PO depart in the Millennium Falcon to Pasaana, where Luke’s search for Exegol ended.

While on Pasaana, the group encounters Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), who points them to the Wayfinder’s last suspected location. Kylo learns where Rey is through their Force bond and travels there with his warrior subordinates, the Knights of Ren. Rey and the others discover the remains of a Jedi hunter named Ochi, his ship, and a dagger inscribed with Sith text, which C-3PO’s programming forbids him from interpreting. Sensing that Kylo is nearby, Rey goes to confront him. The First Order captures the Falcon, Chewbacca, and the dagger; attempting to save Chewbacca, Rey accidentally destroys a First Order transport with Force lightning. Presuming that Chewbacca has been killed, the group escapes on Ochi’s ship.

I’m stopping here to reserve some semblance of integrity and of course, the element of surprise.  This supposedly last Star War film was not as good as some of its predecessors. I found the story rather robotic and cursory, it was all over the place. There were numerous scenes of fighting and often, without merit. The story jumped from subject to subject leaving me desperate for an explanation. Some parts were even a little boring. I think there was too much action to say very little. Despite the uneven flow, the acting was very good and the special effects were absolutely brilliant. Carrie Fisher lives through the age of repurposed unreleased footage from The Force Awakens. I also think I’ve had enough Star Wars, the whole battle between The Force and Emperor Palpatine and his stormtroopers after 43 years is a lovely adventure but is screaming for closure and “The End”. The movie received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the cast performances and visual effects but criticized the story, pacing, and perceived departures from the themes and story of The Last Jedi. It has grossed over $840 million worldwide against a production budget of $275 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 2019. You Star War fans, Check It Out!

[STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is Oscar-Nominated for Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects — Totaling 3 Oscar nominations]

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) – My rating: 9/10

StarWars_TheForceAwakensThis Star Wars is a good one. I loved seeing some of the old gang and I loved that there will be more Star Wars on the horizon, scheduled for 2017. As much as I liked The Force Awakens, I didn’t like it as much as some of the past Star Wars episodes. About 30 years after the second Death Star was destroyed in Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who didn’t make an appearance until the very end of this movie and is also the last Jedi, has disappeared. The “First Order” is looking to eliminate Luke and the Republic but Luke’s twin sister, Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is opposing the First Order while searching for Luke to get his help before they are destroyed. Resistance’s X-wing fighter pilot Poe Damerson (Oscar Isaac) has a partial map of Luke’s location stored in his Droid BB-8. Poe is captured by Stormtroopers but his Droid gets away where it meets a scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) who helps to conceal BB-8. In the meanwhile, the Stormtroopers torture Poe for information leading to the map, finding out the map is hidden in the Droid. Poe tries to escape when he gets help from a First Order Stormtrooper called FN-2187 who later renames himself Finn (John Boyega). Unable to continue to kill or function as a Stormtropper for the First Order, Finn joins the Resistance and escapes with Poe. Finn and Poe find BB-8 on planet Jakku where they meet Scavenger Rey. The planet is attacked by Stormtroopers, and Poe disappears, presumed dead, while Rey, Finn and BB-8 meet Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Together they team up to continue this worthy Star Wars adventure that has more twist and turns than any other production I’ve recently seen. There are many villains leading the First Order. The dark warrior, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who is the son of Hans Solo and Leia Organa and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), plus the ruthless commander of the First Order, General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). Lupita Nyong’o plays Maz Kanata, a wise and perceptive operator of a shady cantina on a planet called Takodana. Maz tries to help Han and his new team, giving the lightsaber that belonged to Luke and his father to Finn for safekeeping.

I opened this review stating it didn’t quite stand up to some of the former Star Wars episodes. The reason is too many scenes reminded me of too many movies I’ve recently seen. I actually found myself making a comparison right there on the spot between the scene I was watching and Maze Runners: The Scorch Trials, District 9 and Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1 & 2.  As most of you know, Disney has taken possession of the Star Wars series buying out the entire franchise from George Lucas for $4.05 billion dollars.  Not bad — So Far, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has taken in $540,058,914 in 2 weeks.  Perhaps Disney isn’t as unique in their story telling as George but there seems to be 540+ million reasons to keep trying.

[STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is nominated for Film Editing, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects]