Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Epic

The Rise of Skywalker

Friends old and new return in The Rise of Skywalker.

It's been 42 years in the coming but the Star Wars saga has finally drawn to a fitting conclusion with the last of the nine films, The Rise of Skywalker, hitting screens across the globe.

The faces we've now become familiar with in the most recent trilogy  - including the Jedi-in-training Rey (Daisy Ridley), reformed Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and hot-shot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) - all return along with, in various ways, many of the major players from the original film.

"[T]he broad lines of the plot are familiar but there's enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. But don't worry, this is no great departure from the standard script - as is usual in the Star Wars films, there's numerous new worlds and peoples and creatures to encounter - including a droid, dubbed "Coneface" but actually called D-O, and tech wiz kid Babu Fink, new spacecraft and speeders, some well-choreographed light-sabre battles and a slightly cheesy ending (but that's part of the fun, isn't it?)"

Princess (now General) Leia Organa (originally played by Carrie Fisher but fairly seamlessly digitally intermeshed using archive footage since her death in 2016) is, of course, still leading the rebels, now known as the Resistance, as they battle the evil First Order, successor to the Empire, led by the nasty Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his underlings General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Allegiant General Pryde (Richard E Grant). 

Meanwhile, the wookie Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) is still cheating at that weird chess-like game on the Millennium Falcon and droids C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Jimmy Vee) continue to provide some comic relief while Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) also make appearances as does the original Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams).

Rumours Emperor Palpatine (Ian MacDiarmid) has returned and gathered a massive armada of star destroyers on the mysterious Sith homeworld lead Rey, accompanied by Finn, Po, and the droid BB-8 to embark on a quest to find a rare Sith "wayfinder" that can show them the way there and enable them to destroy the fleet before it can wipe them out.

And so, as we've come to expect with the Star Wars franchise, thus begins a romp through new worlds featuring encounters with new and diverse creatures - these include a droid, dubbed "Coneface" by Po but actually called D-O and rather small tech wiz kid named Babu Fink - as well as the unveiling of a host of spacecraft, land speeders, some well-choreographed light-sabre battles and a slightly cheesy ending (but that's part of the fun, isn't it?)

Director JJ Abrams is a self-confessed big fan but he hasn't allowed that to overawe him this time (unlike in Episode VIII - The Last Jedi). Yes, the broad lines of the plot are familiar - good versus evil and the conflicts individuals face in picking a side - but there's enough twists and turns - including more family history revelations - to keep it interesting. But don't worry - the form remains the same; this is after all an ending, not a beginning.

It's a slickly made film - as all the Star Wars films have been, generally (and that started with the original) - and will appeal to a broad audience with the action starting in the opening scene and pretty much not letting up until the credits roll. There should be enough here to please fans - although no doubt some will love it and others hate it - but it can also, despite the rather complicated backstory, be watched as a stand-alone (should anybody dare!)

There's been much speculation about where to from here for Star Wars and while many questions have been answered in this final film, there's certainly plenty of plot lines that could yet be developed into stand-alone films (or - and perhaps we're dreaming - a stand-alone series). With the sort of crowds that are turning out to see this film, there's no doubt, this won't be the end of Star Wars.

The Rise of Skywalker brings the three trilogies to a neat close with a satisfying ending to what can, on many measures be described as one of the greatest film sagas ever made.