THE MOVIE GUY — Fitting, but slight, ending to Star Wars

Published 12:03 am Friday, December 20, 2019

After 42 years, the Star Wars saga comes to an end in the form of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which hits theaters this weekend. I’m pleased to report that the filmmakers behind this cherished franchise have done a good job wrapping things up. Casual fans will certainly be pleased by this feel-good film. Diehard fanboys will whine, but that would probably be the case no matter how the film turned out.

I can’t say too much about the plot lest I drop a spoiler or two. Suffice it to say that our trio of heroes, Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) are once again running around the galaxy, trying to thwart an evil plot and stay one step ahead of the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Truth be told, I didn’t really care about the plot. I’ve never been invested in the mechanics of the Star Wars universe, or the complicated family dynamics that drive much of the story. I am mostly interested in the cool alien characters and the special effects and B-Movie thrills. All of that is here in this finale.

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I once again loved the film’s world building—especially the myriad alien creatures who populate the scenic backgrounds. This is a film that I’ll want to see multiple times, just so I can gawk at all of the film’s cool details.

I also think the action sequences are pretty good and I will go as far as to say that the light saber duel that plays out at the film’s mid-point is one of the best fights of the entire series. It’s a thrilling and visually arresting fight that proves to be one of the film’s highlights.

The other highlights come in the form of some cameo appearances that elicited spontaneous applause from the audience at my screening. This doesn’t always work, especially as the film is over stuffed with characters from previous films that serve no purpose other than to re-kindle your sense of nostalgia. The story is far too complex to waste time with a parade of callbacks.

The acting is earnest, although not always convincing. Ridley does give us a heroine who is easy to follow, and Driver turns in his best performance yet. The Rey/Kylo Ren relationship is intriguing, although Finn, Poe, Chewy, BB8 and the rest are left to frequently languish in the background.

That’s okay because the Star Wars movies generally work best when it’s a focused battle between the hero and the villain. All of that works well in this movie. Mix that in with multiple trips to exotic planets, state-of-the art special effects and John Williams’ iconic score and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker becomes a fitting, although not great conclusion to this beloved story.

 Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are each week in The Port Arthur News and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at