First review of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (M)
Rating : **1/2
Yes, the Force is strong with this one.
However, it is how this Force is deployed by Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that will leave some lingering doubts in the minds of passionate devotees of the franchise.
Saddled with the daunting task of bringing the official Skywalker Saga to a definitive close, this ninth episode keeps switching between alternating states of good-natured incoherency and controlled panic.
In particular, the first two acts of the new movie are uncharacteristically messy, convoluted and disjointed for a Stars Wars release.
Many key sequences are over-edited until they become underwhelming, cut together by someone who'd either had too much coffee, too many people looking over their shoulder, or both.
The plotting can only be likened to a heavily stacked shopping trolley with at least one wonky wheel.
You never know which direction this scattershot tale will go, or for how long.
Without straying into the spoiler zone, it can be revealed that a sinister villain long thought to be dead is back in business.
He wants Jedi poster girl Rey (Daisy Ridley) dead to extinguish all threat to his reactivated power, and dispatches her telepathically connected nemesis Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to put a light saber to her throat ASAP.
After 2017's The Last Jedi divided fans by straying too far from key tenets of the Star Wars canon, director J.J. Abrams spends the first 100 minutes of Rise of Skywalker trying anything to right as many of those perceived wrongs as possible.
While Star Wars movies have always been eager to please, this one is way too desperate to be liked.
The difference is telling, and as a result, Rise of Skywalker almost always feels as if it is in a nervy, needy rush to get the job done.
It is only upon rounding the home turn to deliver a distinctly gripping and unexpectedly elegiac finale that Rise of Skywalker finally hits the impressive stride true believers would have hoped for.
The balance struck between storytelling, spectacle and genuine emotion generates both real excitement and a sombre realisation that this is the end of something that has meant so much to so many for over four decades.
But does the great stuff come too late in a movie that spends so much time struggling to be any good? To be frank, the answer is yes.
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER opens in cinemas today.