Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker(PG-13)
Caution: some spoilers, nothing too big, I think.
Well, this is it, the official end of the "Skywalker Saga" (but hardly the end of the Star Wars franchise in general). I didn't love it as much as the original trilogy (episodes 4-6), but I would say it's the best entry in the third trilogy. I suppose there's a lot that I could say about it, and even while watching the movie in the theater, I thought to myself that there was no way I'd remember everything I wanted to say about it, by the time I got around to writing my review, and I'd surely want to edit my review whenever I end up watching the movie again, on DVD. (Though that probably won't be for quite awhile.) So I'll do my best to remember as many of my thoughts as I can, for now. I can say it reminded me of various other things, at different points. Things like Avatar: The Last Airbender (which is neat, because that series occasionally reminded me of the original trilogy of Star Wars movies). And there was an alien mechanic named Klaud who kind of reminded me of Pilot from Farscape. And a plot point from near the end of the movie reminded me of a similar plot point from near the end of Summer Wars (though it was very much in keeping with the end of The Last Jedi, as well). And... I dunno what all. But I should get on with describing the plot...
So. It turns out that somehow, Emperor Palpatine may actually still be alive, having been in hiding since he was supposedly killed in Return of the Jedi. Now, Kylo Ren is trying to find him, in order to kill him, so that Palpatine can't challenge his leadership of the First Order. (Oh yeah, since killing Snoke in the last movie, Kylo is now Supreme Leader... though there are surely people in the First Order who aren't happy about that.) Meanwhile, Leia has been training Rey as a Jedi (we even get a brief flashback at one point to the very end of Luke's training of Leia, and honestly that is a movie I would love to see, all by itself). When the Resistance gets information about Palpatine from a First Order spy, Rey decides to search for the Emperor herself. But of course, she's joined by her friends, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO. They also meet Lando Calrissian.
Um... really, I don't want to give away a bunch of details of the plot, all the different planets we see and all the things our heroes have to do to find Palpatine. There are various characters I feel I should mention in passing, though. Finn meets a woman named Jannah (Naomi Ackie), another former stormtrooper who had left the First Order. (Finn is surprised and very happy to learn he's not the only one, and in fact Jannah knows some others.) We meet an old friend of Poe's named Zorii Bliss (who is played by Keri Russell, though I never would have known that if I hadn't read it online, because Zorii's face is hidden by a helmet; she kind of reminded me of Sabine from Star Wars Rebels). She's angry at Poe for having left the gang they were both a part of, to join the Resistance, but she now ends up helping the Resistance, herself. Another member of her gang is Babu Frik (a small puppet character voiced by Shirley Henderson), who helps our heroes in a way I don't want to spoil. Another new character is Allegiant General Pryde (Richard E. Grant), who apparently had served Palpatine as an Imperial officer back in the day, before becoming a high-ranking officer of the First Order. So it's weird that this movie is his first appearance. Speaking of First Order officers, there's one named General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), who's been in all three movies of the third trilogy, though I guess somehow I failed to mention him in either of my previous reviews. I also somehow failed to recognize him in this movie, and only learned a certain character in the movie was Hux when I read it online, while working on this review. I really should have recognized him, and now that I know it was him... his actions in the movie make even more sense than I thought they did while watching it. Let's see, who else should I mention? Maz Kanata is still around, as is Rose Tico. (I want to mention that before I saw the movie, I'd seen some vague headlines about fans being upset with how the movie treated Tico, but I didn't read any articles, so I thought maybe she dies in the movie. But luckily, the problem is just that she didn't get enough screen time. Which is bad enough, but it could have been worse.) Lt. Connix is also back, as is a Resistance pilot named Temmin "Snap" Wexley (Greg Grunberg, whom I know from Heroes). The latter had been in The Force Awakens, but if I noticed him in that movie, I didn't remember the character by the time I noticed him in this movie. It's a very minor role, but I enjoyed noticing a familiar actor. Another familiar actor I enjoyed noticing in a minor role was Dominic Monaghan, who played a Resistance trooper named Beaumont Kin. (There's no way I'd even know either Wexley or Kin's names if not for Wikipedia.) Our heroes also meet a friendly little droid named D-O (voiced by director J. J. Abrams). And there were any number of cameo appearances by various people that I didn't catch and that weren't of any particular importance.
Whew. Now that that's out of the way, what else should I say about the plot? Um... I do think it's kind of a neat bookend that the first movie of the new trilogy was about a race between the heroes and villains to find Luke Skywalker, and the final movie was about a race to find Palpatine. Of course, Kylo won that race, and of course, Palpatine convinced Kylo to join him instead of fighting him. He promised to restore the Empire and make Kylo the new Emperor, with the assistance of a massive fleet of Star Destroyers, each of which was equipped with a planet-destroying weapon like the one from the Death Stars. (Though obviously smaller, the new weapons were just as powerful as the old ones. I guess technology keeps getting smaller as it becomes more advanced, even in a galaxy far, far away. I mean, the odd Starkiller notwithstanding.) Meanwhile, we also finally get a definitive answer about Rey's parentage. I won't spoil it, but it's very important to the plot. Also, there's a truly epic lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo. And of course an epic space battle, with a deeply heartening moment at one point that I think was a great payoff to the general idea I was talking about at the end of my review of "The Last Jedi." Oh, and Luke is a Force Ghost now, and he makes the best of that... both in advising Rey and in finally managing to lift his X-Wing with the Force. (About damn time.) And... speaking of things that should have happened a long time ago, there's something I always found mildly annoying about the end of Episode IV, which I'm not going to specify here, but I do feel that a certain oversight was finally corrected, in a subtle and sweet (but sad) way, in this movie.
And... of course lots of other stuff happens that I don't want to spoil. But I thought most of it was pretty damn great. All the drama, all the action, all the humor, all the moments both big and small. (Okay, there were a few plot details I could have done without, but not enough to detract from my general enjoyment of the film.) And the final moments of the movie make for a fitting conclusion to the entire saga.