It would seem there are two types of contemporary Star Wars fans at this point—those who embraced director/writer Rian Johnson's vision in the previous mainline series, The Last Jedi, and those who don't. Last time out, we learned how light-side Rey (Daisy Ridley) and dark-side Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) share some kind of bond through The Force. We learned that Leia (Carrie Fisher) could survive in the cold vacuum of space for some reason. How Luke (Mark Hamill) could project a hologram across the galaxy that could choose whether or not to physically touch people and things. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang (John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran and them droids) flew all over the place visiting space casinos, freeing space horses, learning space secrets and doing space stuff.
Well, JJ Abrams is back at the helm now, and he's undoing or re-kajiggering as much of Johnson's stuff as is humanly possible. Part of this is fan service (there is perhaps no more toxically vocal fanbase than the Star Wars set), part of this is trying to wrap up a Disney-fied version of George Lucas' original vision—and say what you want, he did it his way the whole time without concerning himself over corporate interests (see the documentary Empire of Dreams for more on that). Part of it is how obviously the filmmakers painted themselves into a corner by not working together on an actually unified story—but part of it is the unrealistic pressures put on a series that may borrow from mythology, but is ultimately about lasers in space and hairy beasts shrieking "Ruggggghhhhhhh!" at humans and droids who somehow understand them (and vice-versa).
Anyway, in Rise of Skywalker, Han Solo's dead, Luke's dead, Leia's barely hanging on and the upstart young rebellion folk are busy trying to dismantle the empire. But ruh-roh, turns out Snoke (the big baddie from the first two new movies) was a clone the whole time, and Emperor Palpatine (the big bad from the other six movies) is totally still alive somehow, and he's trying to pull the strings from his totally bitchin' and evil Sith compound on some far-flung planet no one can find. But find it they will, so long as actors like Keri Russell show up to have a few lines that work like stand-ins for actual story and character development. Space lasers are shot, lost planets are found, harrowing backstories are revealed and oh-so-many sequel possibilities are set up. All the while drama unfolds while John Williams music swells.
But no one really acts in these movies so much as they deliver ham-fisted rhetoric about fate and destiny and space lasers. They're kinda like monologues that provide the same information over and over again. Then there are the crammed-in love stories, the abandoned love stories and the whole mire of unanswered questions raised by Abrams and crew; they all lead to an ending that'll make you think things like "OK, that coulda been worse," or "I will defend this to the death because liking Star Wars defines me as a person!" Either way, the movie's fine if you don't take it too seriously—kind of like all Star Wars movies.
-Who can even give a shit anymore?
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
With Ridley, Fisher, Isaac, Boyega, Driver, Russell and C3P0 (Anthony Daniels)
Violet Crown, Regal (both locations), PG-13, 142 min.