“The Rise of Skywalker” a safe, final saga

4 out of 5 Stars

By Aaron Reynolds

The Surveyor

“Star Wars” will likely go down in the history of cinema as the most influential and successful movie franchise ever created. When you consider its origins back in the late ‘70s, and its relevance nearly half a century later, it is difficult to argue with that fact.

“Star Wars” has not only spawned three successful trilogies, but also spin-off versions of films and TV series, video games, novels, comic books, and even theme-park attractions. The space-opera rewrote the rules for capitalizing on film merchandising. It has also (from a filmmaking perspective) been a leader in visual effects and epic storytelling.

The realization for fans that “Star Wars” would conclude the Skywalker Saga began to set in during 2017 after the release of “The Last Jedi.” Disney promised fans one final chapter in the franchise, spawning what surely would represent one of the most anticipated, historical, and record-shattering releases ever in Hollywood.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” reached theaters this past weekend to droves of movie-goers, all immensely excited with plenty of huge expectations. It is always difficult for a work of art, regardless of the medium, to amount to such relentless hope and expectations for a rewarding conclusion.

History has shown us groundbreaking, powerful series in film and TV often end with controversial or mixed reactions from long-time viewers. The recent conclusions of beloved series like “The Sopranos” and “Game of Thrones” are evidence of how difficult it is for production teams to present a final, satisfying conclusion that pleases audiences.

Keeping that in mind, audiences will likely leave the theaters after viewing “The Rise of Skywalker” with convoluted feelings. On one hand, despite what some skeptics say about Disney, the new trilogy was worthwhile and rekindled a franchise that suffered after the early-2000s prequels. The new Disney series introduced old and new fans alike to a new band of heroes and a modern villain.

“The Force Awakens” reinvented the series with Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren while keeping true to its roots and offering nostalgia based on the returns of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. “The Last Jedi” answered a few questions, set up more twists, and established a few cliffhangers for the conclusion.

So, where does “The Rise of Skywalker” stand in the most recent trilogy, as well as the film franchise as a whole?

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” may not break any creative boundaries or represent the greatest conclusion of all-time to a series, yet that’s not saying it’s a bad movie. It is difficult for anything to live up to so much hype and promise. While some audience members may feel cheated with the end result, the reality is, “The Rise of Skywalker” offers fans what they want – a fitting conclusion.

“The Rise of Skywalker” may take a safer route to its finale and, with J.J. Abrams returning as its director, some may feel the culmination lacks a bit of inspiration. Instead, Abrams sticks to the formula with a fan-focused rendition.

The storytelling is there, the CGI and special effects are amazing as always, and the performances are worthy. Though it might not go down as the best “Star Wars” movie, or even the greatest in the latest series, “The Rise of Skywalker” offers an appropriate large-scale closure to such a profound and tremendously popular franchise.

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