You can tell there are true fans in the audience when a film’s production company logo gets a rousing round of applause. . . And another for the opening credits; another for the prologue; culminating with a rapturous clap-a-thon for the final scene.
This final instalment of the 'Star Wars' trilogy of trilogies is the ultimate goodbye for fans of the decades-long-running, cherished saga of the Skywalkers. The story itself has many, many echoes of the original trilogy, with new characters very much recalling previous favourites. Indeed individual scenes, so memorable in the first series, are repeated in this last instalment for emotional effect (and bullseye, JJ Abrams, the whole theatre was in tears. . . Nicely played, sir).
This episode hits all the narrative high notes audiences are hoping for, secrets and plots are revealed, and are very satisfying. Everything is pretty much tied up in a neat bow, with very poignant goodbyes scattered throughout the film (it is VERY hard to write this without spoilers!). Carrie Fisher’s departure was handled with respect and dignity, mainly using leftover footage from previous films. Finally, for those not quite ready to let go, individual stories for up coming standalone films are teased, setting the scene for the universe’s future.
While any new 'Star Wars' film is sure to divide loyal audiences, hopefully everyone can agree on the performances. Adam Driver is an absolute standout. As Kylo Ren, every emotion darts across his face as he sells Ren’s motivations. It is also an incredibly physical performance – lightsabers are constantly twirling everywhere – but Driver makes it look natural, if not exactly easy. He and Daisy Ridley as Rey have incredible chemistry, key to the story and a great example of excellent casting.
Speaking of casting, while the majority of leading cast members remain white, there is a lot of diversity in the greater ensemble. This includes blink-and-you’ll-miss-it evidence of LGBTQIA+ characters. There were some high-calibre cameos too, which, while a casting coup, jerked me out of the story – I would have preferred not to recognise them. Finally, it seems that this film uses puppets more than CGI effects, which is also very welcome.
As a great fan of this series from a very young age, I loved this movie, and thought it was a fitting farewell to a much-adored story. My only hesitation is with the very last scene. Goodbye Skywalkers, this film gives you a fitting, very fond farewell.
'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker' is in cinemas now.